|Pastor Maldonado becomes the
first ever Venezuelan Grand Prix
The cheers in Spain would have been overshadowed by those in Venezuela and Grove today as Pastor Maldonado claimed the first Venezuelan victory in Formula 1. Pastor fought a running battle with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso throughout the race, starting as the red machine slipped past as the lights turned out at the start.
Not only did the victory mark the best result for a Venezuelan driver in Formula 1 but also a return to the top step for Williams F1 after an eight year win-drought. Not since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2004 and the labours of Juan Pablo Montoya has the British team taken the top step.
A resergance from the Ferrari of Alonso late in the race had the two drivers tied together with a very short string at the end of the race. In the dying laps though, the Pirelli rubber on the F2012 started to go off and the pressure on Maldonado eased, he cruised to a landmark victory.
Alonso was left to fend of the advances of the Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen who rounded out the Spanish podium. The Lotus carved a couple of seconds a lap out of the leading pair as his fresher tyres, challenging for second by the end of the race. Next up was the other Lotus of Romain Grosjean wrapping up another good weekend for the Enstone based outfit.
For the "front runners", it was a trying weekend. The penalty for Lewis Hamilton not only deprived him of the chance of a win, but having used more tyres in qualifying, and being stuck with a set up which should have seen the McLaren running at the front, his eventual result of eighth was a shock and a pleasant surprise. Lewis was the only driver to run a two stop strategy, which at the mid point of the race was set to ruin the drivers day, the tires deteriorated early in the first half of the race and when he bolted on the primes with 30 laps to go, the chances of him making the race distance were slim. He did it though, struggling in the dying laps of the race to hold on for points.
For Sebastian Vettel, a low starting position was turned into sixth when he didn't so much as pass the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg but robbed him in the infield section of the course. A drive-through penalty for failing to slow through a yellow flag gave yet more frustration, as did the change of a front wing. Both Red Bull drivers were forced to change their front wing with no apparent reason, a particularly damaging move for Mark Webber who failed to score points.
Felipe Massa was anothe driver hobbled by extra trips through the pits. His additional run was a non-stop trip through the pits as he was also done for failing to slow during the yellow flag.
That flag was caused by the big talking point of the race. Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna's coming together at the first corner could, or perhaps even should, have prompted the arrival of the safety car. The scattering of debris as the Mercedes-Benz rammed the back end of the Brazilian while trying to overtake into Elf Corner. Schumacher maintains that Senna hit the brakes early, likely as the Williams was on older tyres at the time of the incident which finished both car's involvement in the race.
Karthikeyan and Pic also retired during the race, along with the Sauber of Perez.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Maldonado Williams-Renault 1h39:09.145 2. Alonso Ferrari + 3.195 3. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 3.884 4. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 14.799 5. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:14.641 6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 1:17.576 7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:27.919 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1:28.100 9. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:25.200 10. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap 11. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 1 lap 12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 13. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 14. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap 15. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap 16. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 17. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 19. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
Driver Team On lap Perez Sauber-Ferrari 38 Pic Marussia-Cosworth 36 Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 23 Senna Williams-Renault 13 Schumacher Mercedes 13