Maldonado takes Grand Prix victory in Spain

Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado has scooped up his first Grand Prix victory at Catalunya, just 24 hours after securing his maiden pole position in Formula One. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had set the fastest time in Qualifying, only to be disqualified for not having sufficient fuel in his car for a sample for the stewards, hence promoting Maldonado to P1.

Maldonado had a good start at lights out only to be passed by Fernando Alonso into Turn 1, in an almost exact replica of the Spaniards  2011 start. Behind him, the Lotus’ who normally have lightning starts, fell into place behind Maldonado. Nico Rosberg passed Romain Grosjean into turn 2 and was followed through by Sauber’s Sergio Perez. Grosjean fought hard to keep his position, ending in a puncture for Perez. Hamilton had a great charge from the back of the grid and was up to 19th by the end of the first lap.

It was not long before the gaps began to form. Alonso got out of the one second gap needed to rob Maldonado of DRS while Maldonado did the same to Raikkonen. Behind Raikkonen, a gap of a few seconds formed to Rosberg.

Mark Webber was the first come in for a scheduled stop, unusually early on Lap 7, and changed to the hard tyres. The following lap, team-mate Sebastian Vettel pitted for his own set of hard tyres. The top three cars of Alonso, Maldonado and Raikkonen began to build massive gaps to each other and the rest of the grid while Rosberg in P4 led a long train of cars.

Romain Grosjean went for the overtake on Bruno Senna into turn 1 before getting the whack of a Williams for his efforts. He lost his front wing end-plate but this didn’t have any effect on him. Schumacher came up next to try to pass Senna before smacking into the back of him and sending both of them off the track. A very angry Schumacher threw his wheel out of his cockpit as he lamented his third DNF in five races, while Bruno Senna pulled the car in to the side of the track to retire.

While all this was happening, Lewis Hamilton made his first pit stop of the race which was going well until he ran over his old tyre which a rather clumsy engineer had dropped into Hamilton’s path. No damage was done to the car however, and Hamilton continued on.

Suddenly, on Lap 17, Webber lost positions to Di Resta, Massa, Hamilton and Vergne in very quick succession, The ‘Unlucky Aussie’ then headed into the pits at the end of the lap for a new front wing. Whatever Webber’s problem was, was fixed, and he set a new fastest lap on his first lap out of the pits. The front three continued to stay in a class of their own while Grosjean battled hard to catch them, albeit unsuccessfully.

On Lap 23, The Stewards announced that both Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel were under investigation for speeding under yellow flag conditions, caused by the Senna/Schumacher crash. Both drivers were handed drive through penalties. A few laps later, Narain Karthikeyan pulled his HRT over at the side of pit exit to retire. Maldonado moved up to 1st place after Alonso pitted.

Fernando Alonso passed the Marussia of Charles Pic into Turn 1, with the wave of his hand, giving out to him for holding him up. Pic received a drive-through for it. However, while serving his penalty, he pulled into his garage to retire his car.

Perez pitted on Lap 42 to change his tyre’s and after a very clumsy pit stop, he had to pull over at the pit exit with an unattached rear wheel.

Maldonado pitted from the lead on Lap 42, suprisingly early, and rejoined in P3, behind Alonso and Raikkonen. Alonso pushed all he could for three laps before making his pit stop, but it was not enough and he rejoined behind Maldonado. Maldonado cruised past Raikkonen into turn 1, followed by Alonso. Raikkonen pitted the lap after.

Maldonado and Alonso fought their hearts out, Maldonado for a first win, Alonso for a home win, but Kimi Raikkonen played himself into a chance of winning when he left the pits to set a new fastest lap, almost a full two seconds faster than Maldonado and Alonso. Grosjean mirrored his team-mates lap times but was too far behind to catch the trio at the front.

Over the last ten laps, Alonso and Maldonado had a great fight but eventually, Alonso’s tyre’s ‘hit the cliff’ and Maldonado pulled away. Raikkonen got very close but finished 0.6 behind Alonso in the end.

It is Maldonado’s first ever F1 victory and William’s first win since Brazil 2004.

Final Standing’s:

1. Pastor Maldonado
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Kimi Raikkonen
4. Romain Grosjean
5. Kamui Kobayashi
6. Sebastian Vettel
7. Nico Rosberg
8. Lewis Hamilton
9. Jenson Button
10. Nico Hulkenberg
11. Mark Webber
12. Jean-Eric Vergne
13. Daniel Ricciardo
14. Paul Di Resta
15. Felipe Massa
16. Heikki Kovalainen
17. Vitaly Petrov
18. Timo Glock
19.  Pedro De La Rosa
Retired:

Sergio Perez – Rear Wheel Failure
Charles Pic – Mechanical Issue
Narain Karthikeyan – Mechanical Issue
Bruno Senna – Collision
Michael Schumacher – Collision

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