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Spa GP - Race weekend recap - Maldonado

The 2012 Formula One World Championship is more competitive than ever.

Following the fifth race of the season, we've now had five different race winners from five different teams.

Not since 1983 has a campaign started with five different winners but history repeated itself on Sunday.

If anyone thought that Formula One could become even less predictable this season, then they needed to watch events unfold in Spain as Pastor Maldonado, the 27-year-old Venezuelan took his first pole position on Saturday and then his first race victory on Sunday and all while driving a Williams, a car that last won a Formula One race in Brazil 2004 with Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.

Seen by some as a pay driver, ourselves included, due to the amount of money he brings to the Williams team through sponsorship, Maldonado drove a faultless weekend.

He might not have finished Saturday afternoon on pole position, with his time half a second slower than the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, but second place in qualifying was still a wonderful achievement for Maldonado, especially when his team-mate Bruno Senna had dropped out in Q1.

Speaking immediately after qualifying the Williams driver told We have been working so hard all year to understand these tyres and with the updates we have brought to this race we have made a very good step forward. The car is very consistent and its race pace is good so I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow. There has been a really positive atmosphere in the team all season and this is a great result for them and Venezuela.

It was an even better result for them once the news broke that Lewis Hamilton would be excluded from qualifying due to breaking a rule in regards to fuel.

In a script that only Formula One could write, the news was released just as the team were celebrating Frank Williams' 70th birthday, would there be an even bigger present for the long standing F1 boss?

Going into the race no-one really gave Williams much of a chance of being able to convert pole position into the race win.

The much improved Ferrari, being cheered on by Fernando Alonso's home crowd, would surely be strong enough? The Lotus' of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean had both shown good long distance pace in Friday practice, surely they would be in contention?

Even the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel after saving tyres from qualifying would challenge?

The answer was an emphatic no, while Alonso might have taken the lead on the first corner and led the first phase of the race, the Williams team had the strategy nailed and Maldonado re-took the lead of the race after the first pit-stop and that's where he remained until the chequered flag fell.

Even a fairly early pit-stop wouldn't deny Maldonado from his first race victory, as Alonso's newer, fresher tyres, lost performance sooner than those on the Williams.

Its an unbelievable feeling winning my first race. The car felt really consistent, was fantastic to drive and our pace was strong throughout. Alonso was chasing me hard but we looked after our tyres well and I managed to open the gap towards the end. The team has worked so hard all year and this win is for them. To be the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race is a big honour and hopefully I will win more races in the future.

With just four points from his first four races, the twenty-five points earned from the win shot Maldonado up the drivers table to ninth.

Williams also climb the constructors table and are now level on points with Mercedes in fifth.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 14 2012

Time: 1:00PM

Your Comments

To call him a pay driver is to insult the integrity and intelligence of one of the master team owners, if not the master. If he was not up for it, then Frank would never be swayed by the honey pot that he brings with his oil company backing. He won the race fair and square and I hope he wins many more.

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