On this day in 2012: Pastor Maldonado wins the Spanish Grand Prix

Published on
13 May 2022
Est. reading time
4 Min

The Williams driver claimed a remarkable victory in our FW34

The 2012 Formula One season is widely regarded as one of the most open and competitive years in the sport, with a different driver winning the opening seven rounds.
Williams Racing's Pastor Maldonado was the fifth of those seven drivers when he took his first and only F1 race victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday 13 May 2012 – ten years ago today.
The Williams driver overcame the odds to beat out local hero Fernando Alonso and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen in a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix, becoming the first Venezuelan in F1 history to both finish on a podium and win a race - a record that is maintained to this very day.
The memorable scenes where Alonso and Raikkonen hoisted Pastor onto their shoulders after the podium celebrations topped "a wonderful day", as the then-27-year-old racer described it.
On that historic weekend, our South American racer didn't only take his solitary F1 win; he also took the only pole position of his career by planting his FW34 on the front row in Saturday's qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton looked to have taken P1, but the Brit ran out of fuel on his in-lap, meaning the stewards excluded him from the session, promoting the Williams man to pole.
However, Pastor’s win wasn't a straightforward story, and he had to show excellent pace over the Grand Prix's 66 laps. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso joined him on the front row, gunning for victory and cheered on by an expectant 82,000 strong Spanish crowd hoping to see their countryman take his second win of 2012.
The home favourite sent the grandstands into jubilation on the first lap as Alonso's impressive start saw him take the inside line on the run into Turn 1 to seize the lead.
Undeterred, Pastor made sure to keep close to the two-time world champion in the opening two stints, allowing the Williams team to make strategy calls that would pressure their Italian counterparts in the Ferrari garage.
On Lap 25, the race-winning expertise from Grove chose to trigger the undercut, and a faultless pit stop by our crew meant Pastor went out into clear air and pushed hard on the fresh Pirelli tyres.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Alonso struggled to clear the backmarkers in his way, allowing the Williams racer to close the gap until Ferrari called the Spaniard in for his own set of fresh rubber two laps later.
Ferrari's pit stop came too late – Pastor set the fastest lap as Alonso left the pits, and P1 belonged to the Venezuelan once Raikkonen stopped a few laps later.
The sizeable seven-second gap created by Pastor and the Williams team’s combined efforts was enough to keep Alonso at bay through the third stint, but our driver hadn't won the race yet.
A heart in mouth moment came during his third and final stop as the rear right wheel was slow to go on. The lost time meant Alonso was much closer after he had made his third trip to the pit lane.
However, the drama didn't stop there; Raikkonen wasn't looking to pit anytime soon, and his Lotus-Renault would slow Pastor down, allowing Alonso to catch up.
If our Maracay-born driver wanted to join the F1 history books as a race-winner, he would need to make a move for the lead on track. Two laps after Alonso's pit stop, and with the Ferrari closing in fast, Pastor pounced on Raikkonen.
Helped by DRS, he closed in on the Finn and shot past in the Turn 1 braking zone to reclaim first place.
The move sealed the race victory – Williams' first since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix – and provided the perfect present for team founder Sir Frank Williams' surprise 70th birthday party that weekend.

The day's celebrations would go on to be marred by the fire that broke out after the race in the Williams garage.
The blaze injured 31 people, however, the camaraderie and togetherness in the paddock saw multiple pit crews from other teams help bring the flames under control. Thankfully, everyone recovered.
Pastor's incredible win showed the world what he could do, silencing any critics along the way.
He went up against a star-studded grid of drivers, including world champions Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen, and emerged victorious.
Without any rain, red flags, or any other unpredictable events, Pastor guided his Williams FW34 to become a Formula One winner on that unforgettable day in Spain.
¡Vamos, Pastor!

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