Maldonado makes Williams day with historic victory in Barcelona
Who would have thought it? Williams winning a Grand Prix in 2012? And won by a still relative rookie Venezuelan? And the day after team boss Frank Williams celebrated his 70th birthday? Then, while the champagne has hardly finished drying on Maldonado’s overalls, the Williams pit is almost completely destroyed by a fire. It could only happen in Formula One…
The topsy turvy world of Formula One reached even higher levels of unpredictability with a result that left all the major teams bemused and bewildered, while the boys from Didcot celebrated a historic victory. After a qualifying session that looked for a while as if McLaren had regained it earlier season form, a hapless Lewis Hamilton was left stranded on the circuit with an empty tank and a 23 place grid drop after having set pole.
Meanwhile Pastor Maldonado set the pit lane alight with the demonstration of yet another team that has found serious pace as the season develops. And so having claimed second, he was then promoted to pole when the stewards announced their penalty for the McLaren team’s fueling error. Happy Birthday Sir Frank! On his shoulder however, was a menacing form in the shape of local hero Fernando Alonso who once again had promoted his Ferrari into a position that seemed above and beyond the car’s actual rightful place.
The Lotus team yet again reaffirmed their strong performances with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen claiming fourth and fifth, with Sergio Perez in sixth as Sauber continue to show genuine pace. Out of place and pace Red Bulls languished in eighth and twelfth, with Jenson Button in his McLaren struggled in eleventh. Mercedes faired somewhat better with Rosberg taking seventh and Schumacher ninth.
Come the race, Fernanado as expected pounced on the Williams down to the first corner to force his way into first to the roars of the crowd. But Maldonado held his nerve and his position for the next 26 laps. Come the second round of pit stops, the young Venezuelan swept into the lead. Alonso chased hard to recover lost ground and looked to take the position back. However after one effort on lap 57, his tyres started to drop away leaving Maldonado to open the gap to over three seconds as he crossed the line to take the chequered flag.
Behind the dueling pair, the Lotus team reversed their grid positions with Kimi leading them home to third and fourth places. Whilst Perez was unable to convert his grid position into points following a series of mishaps, his team mate Kamui Kobayashi finished in fifth, having muscled his way past Jenson. Behind him Vettel managed to haul his Red Bull up into sixth, while Hamilton recovered from last on the grid to claim eighth, though seventh looked possible as he harried Rosberg in the closing stages.
With the drama of the race seemingly over, and the dust settling on yet another unexpected result, smoke started pouring out of the pits from the Williams garage. A fire had taken hold and it took pit crews from several teams to help douse the flames, but not after causing serious damage to the team’s equipment and the car of Bruno Senna.
With the glamour of Monaco beckoning in two weeks time, the drivers table is wide open at this stage of the season with Alonso and Vettel tying for first, but closely followed by the pack. Yet again, NGK teams took the majority of the top ten places so in one area at least, things are proving predictable in Formula One.