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FORMULA 1

Maldonado takes maiden win at Spanish GP

Second place in Barcelona enough to send Alonso back to top of championship race

(L to R) Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Williams' Pastor Maldonado and Lotus F1 Team's Kimi Raikkonen celebrate on the podium.
(L to R) Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Williams' Pastor Maldonado and Lotus F1 Team's Kimi Raikkonen celebrate on the podium. DIMITAR DILKOFF (AFP)

Pastor Maldonado became the first Venezuelan driver to win a Formula 1 race when he held off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso (left) and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen (right) to take the checkered flag at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday. The result also marked the first win for the Williams team in nearly eight years. "You can imagine how I feel," Maldonado told reporters. "It is my first podium. It has been a wonderful day, not just for me, but for the whole team."

Fernando Alonso found himself back at the top of the overall world championship standings, level on points with Sebastian Vettel, after finishing second in a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on Sunday.

The Ferrari driver was involved in a riveting tussle with victor Pastor Maldonado, who became the first ever Venezuelan driver to win a Formula 1 race and the fifth different winner in the five rounds so far this season. The result also marked Williams' first race victory since 2004.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was third in the Lotus, with his teammate Romain Grosjean in fourth and Japan's Kamui Kobayashi fifth in the Sauber. Vettel was sixth in the Red Bull, while Lewis Hamilton, who started from the back of the grid after achieving pole - a penalty for having too little fuel in his McLaren for qualifying - fought back to eighth. Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa was 19th in the HRT.

It's a step forward. We did a good time and today we performed well"

Starting from second on the grid, Alonso took the lead from pole sitter Maldonado at the start, but lost out to the Williams' superior pit-stop strategy.

"It's a step forward," noted the Asturian driver. "We led in the first part of the race until Williams brought its stop forward. We tried, but in the final laps the car was a bit strange. Maybe it lost an aerodynamic part. Anyway, this is a step forward. We managed a good time yesterday and today we performed very well. I tried by all means. I cannot ask more."

Williams' victory was marred after four team members were injured in a fire in its garage after the race. One of those injured was taken to hospital, while four members of the neighboring Caterham team were also attended to at the Montmeló circuit's medical unit. A Force India team member was also treated for smoke inhalation.

Alonso and Vettel both have 61 points at the top of the overall driver's standings, though Vettel leads on results countback. Hamilton lies third on 53 points.

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