x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pastor Maldonado wins Spanish Grand Prix in Williams

Venezuelan driver clinches his first Formula One race after holding off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Paston Maldonado won his first grand prix. Reuters
Paston Maldonado won his first grand prix. Reuters

BARCELONA // Pastor Maldonado held of the bull-like charge of Fernando Alonso to win the Spanish Grand Prix and hand his Williams F1 team their first race victory since 2004.

The Venezuelan had inherited the front position on the grid when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying, but he saw Alonso – competing in his home race in a beleaguered Ferrari – enjoy a better start off the line to steal the lead by the first turn.

By the time the two cars had completed a lap of the Circuit de Catalunya, the Spaniard held a 1.3 second lead. Maldonado fought back and had cut down the lead by the end of the second, but it was – as it so often has been in recent races – in the timing of the pit stops where the real time could be found.

With both drivers employing three-stop strategies, the lead was passed between them like a hot potato, but when Ferrari called Alonso in for his final stop one lap too late, the unlikely pole-sitter was able to capitalise. As the race neared its end, Alonso's tyres appeared to degrade at a quicker rate than the pole-sitter and Maldonado was able to build a gap before passing the chequered flag 3.1 seconds ahead of his Ferrari rival.

Kimi Raikkonen, the Finnish driver, finished third, just 0.6 seconds behind Alonso and ahead of his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean.

"It is a wonderful day, not just for me but for all the team. We have been pushing so hard to improve race by race and here we are. Yesterday we were here after great qualifying and again today, again it was a tough race," he said.

"I am really happy because the car was so competitive from the first lap. Fernando did a better start with me, but I was just following the pace. It is my first podium and my first victory so you can only imagine what I am feeling."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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