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Sunday, May 13, 2012


Excellent driving for maiden victory
Pastor Maldonado scored his maiden Formula 1 win and ended a Williams victory drought dating back to the end of the 2004 season as the Venezuelan defeated local hero Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in an absorbing Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona's Catalunya track.

The result moves Alonso in to joint-lead of the championship with Sebastian Vettel who could only finish sixth behind Romain Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi. Nico Rosberg just held on to seventh from the recovering Lewis Hamilton, while Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg were the final points-scorers.

Maldonado's chances of victory seemed slimmer as soon as Alonso muscled his way through in to the lead in to turn one. Having pegged the gap by lap two, Maldonado eased away from Raikkonen behind as scraps emerged further back. A poor start dropped Mark Webber back, while Michael Schumacher jumped up to sixth place and Rosberg moved in to fourth ahead of Grosjean. Sergio Perez had his race immediately ruined, however, as a puncture caused him to have to limp round the whole first lap.

Hamilton made steady progress before showing his pace and race-craft to dive up the inside of Bruno Senna for 17th place. The first round of pit stops came quite early, with Alonso pitting just before Maldonado as the Williams closed in, keeping the lead as Hamilton made headway by staying out. Raikkonen was the only man to stay in relative touch with the front-runners, but he was running eight seconds back and couldn't make any inroads. While Maldonado ran close to Alonso, Williams kept Bruno Senna out for a long first stint, but his race was ended when Schumacher slammed in to the back of him under braking for turn one, taking both out of the race and leaving the seven-time World Champion livid. A slightly delayed stop hampered Hamilton's progress, but Grosjean was a lot happier on his second set of tyres and soon jumped ahead of Rosberg in to fourth place. Webber suddenly slowed with a loss of front load and had to pit for a new nose - dropping him out of the points.

It was the second round of pit-stops that changed the race, however as Maldonado stayed close to Alonso before pitting. The fresh tyres allowed him to pump in some quick laps and, with the Ferrari being blocked by Charles Pic, Alonso rejoined nearly seven seconds behind in second place. Vettel and Felipe Massa had been running in the lower points-scoring places but their tasks were made harder when they were both handed drive-through penalties for ignoring yellow flags - Vettel's DRS having been wide open. That released Hamilton in to the points as he sought to make a two-stop strategy work. At the front, Maldonado worked to preserve his tyres but saw Alonso close the gap, eventually pitting for the final time with 24 laps to go. Despite a slow stop his early laps on fresh rubber opened up the lead once again, but after Alonso pitted the pair caught Raikkonen - who was yet to pit for a final time - and having made their way past were just two seconds apart. Alonso soon erased the deficit and used DRS to pressure the Williams, but Maldonado stayed calm and drove maturely to hold on to the lead while not overusing his tyres.

Raikkonen pitted for the final time and set about chasing down the leaders, running over a second a lap more quickly. As the race moved in to the closing laps Maldonado started to ease away from Alonso to eventually win by three seconds, with Raikkonen wringing the neck of the Lotus to cross the line just 0.6s behind the Ferrari. Vettel recovered to pass Hamilton and Rosberg late on, and once again the Mercedes struggled with its tyres as the two-stopping Hamilton closed in to hound him right to the flag. The result moves Alonso level with Vettel at the top of the standings, while Hamilton limited the damage impressively to sit third - eight points of the lead. Raikkonen is now fourth and 12 points behind the leaders but the day belonged to Williams and Maldonado as this enthralling Formula One season delivered its fifth different winner from five different teams in the opening five races.

The Spanish Grand Prix, Catalunya, Barcelona
66 laps, 307.104km, Weather: Sunny.

Pos      Driver               Team                     Time
 1.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault           1h39:09.145
 2.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                    +     3.195
 3.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault              +     3.884
 4.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +    14.799
 5.  Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari             +  1:14.641
 6.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault           +  1:17.576
 7.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes AMG               +  1:27.919
 8.  Lewis Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes           +  1:28.100
 9.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +  1:25.200
10.  Nico Hulkenberg      Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
11.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault           +     1 lap
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
13.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
14.  Paul Di Resta        Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
15.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                    +     1 lap
16.  Heikki Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap
17.  Vitaly Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap
18.  Timo Glock           Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
19.  Pedro De la Rosa     HRT-Cosworth               +    3 laps

Fastest lap: Romain Grosjean - 1:26.250

Not classified:
Driver                Team                     On lap
Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari            38
Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth         36
Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth              23
Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault          13
Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                  13

Standings after 5 races:                
Drivers:                     Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel        61        1.  Red Bull-Renault          109
 2.  Alonso        61        2.  McLaren-Mercedes           98
 3.  Hamilton      53        3.  Lotus-Renault              84
 4.  Raikkonen     49        4.  Ferrari                    63
 5.  Webber        48        5.  Williams-Renault           43
 6.  Button        45        6.  Mercedes                   43
 7.  Rosberg       41        7.  Sauber-Ferrari             41
 8.  Grosjean      35        8.  Force India-Mercedes       18
 9.  Maldonado     29        9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          6
10.  Perez         22       
11.  Kobayashi     19       
12.  Di Resta      15       
13.  Senna         14       
14.  Vergne         4       
15.  Hulkenberg     3       
16.  Schumacher     2       
17.  Massa          2       
18.  Ricciardo      2