• BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13: Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Ferrari takes the lead from Pastor Maldonado (R) of Venezuela and Williams into the first corner at the start of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Ferrari Formula One driver, Fernando Alonso, from Spain, bottom right, leads the pack during Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona, Sunday May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
  • Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, drives his Red Bull car during the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
  • Race track stewards remove the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher, from Germany, during the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona, Sunday May 13, 2012.AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 12: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren drives during qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13: Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Williams drives on his way to winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13: Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Williams crosses the finishing line to win the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Williams Formula One driver, Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, drivers his car and celebrates beside his team mechanics after winning the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona, Sunday May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13: Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Williams celebrates in parc ferme after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13: Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Williams celebrates after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
  • Williams Formula One driver, Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, celebrates after winning the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona, Sunday May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • Williams Formula One driver, Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, center, is holds up by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso from Spain, left, and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, from Finland, right, after winning the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona, Sunday May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Every year the Formula One calendar incorporates new races at more far-flung locations around the world. Recent additions have brought the series to such locales as Abu Dhabi, South Korea and India. But the purists know that, no matter where it may roam, F1 is essentially a European series.

With the grands prix in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain now behind us, the circus has come back home for the European section of the calendar that kicked off this weekend in Barcelona, Spain. Keep reading to see how it unfolded.

Coming back from a season when Sebatian Vettel took just about every pole position, this season has seen another driver land on pole at nearly every race. Lewis Hamilton took the first two, succeeded by Nico Rosberg, and Sebastian Vettel at the next two up until now. But in Barcelona on Friday a surprise performance by rookie Pastor Maldonado landed Williams on pole. Surely he wouldn't be able to keep it up over the race distance, though...would he?

Hamilton had initially posted the top time in qualifying, but having finished the session without enough fuel for the officials to test, was bumped to the back of the grid. So Fernando Alonso lined up his Ferrari alongside Maldonado, followed by the Lotus cars of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen. Sergio Perez landed his Sauber fifth, followed by Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Vettel (Red Bull), Schumacher (Mercedes), Kobayashi (Sauber) and Button (McLaren), with erstwhile frontrunners Webber (Red Bull) and Massa (Ferrari) relegated to eleventh and sixteenth, respectively.



Off the line, however, Maldonado couldn't keep his Williams ahead of Alonso's Ferrari, and the two-time world champion took a lead he would hold onto uninterrupted for the first 27 of 66 laps. The start had also boded well for Hamilton, Massa and Rosberg, who each advanced several places from the starting grid, but less so for Grosjean who fell behind.

The stage was then set for Alonso, Maldonado and Raikkonen to wage battle up front when Rosberg fell behind in fourth. A long line of cars bottled up behind the German driver who had shown his mettle so aptly two races prior by winning in China.

Things went much worse for his elder teammate on lap 13. Schumacher and Senna collided, spinning off into the gravel. And while Bruno managed to limp back to the pits with a puncture, Schumi was beached and his race was finished. Webber found less drastic setbacks when his Red Bull misbehaved, dropping him further down the field.

2012 Spanish Grand Prix2012 Spanish Grand Prix

After Maldonado retook the lead from Alonso in the second round of pit stops, the third round brought the drama to a head. A jammed wheel gun in the Williams pit box forced the young Venezuelan to rejoin in third behind both Alonso and Raikkonen. Fernando then pitted from the lead and rejoined behind Pastor and Kimi, and the Williams car overtook the Lotus once again for the lead.

Alonso would squeeze past Raikkonen as well, but though he got close, his tires wouldn't hold on long enough to get past Maldonado as well. And so the relative rookie took a hard-fought and well-deserved checkered flag, and in the process became the first Venezuelan to win an F1 race. It was also the first grand prix victory for the Williams team since 2004 when Juan Pablo Montoya won the Brazilian Grand Prix, and came as a welcome birthday gift to team principal Frank Williams who had just turned 70 a few days prior.

Meanwhile Alonso took second place on the podium and Raikkonen claimed third. His team-mate Romain Grosjean sailed to a smooth fourth place, ahead of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi who fought hard for fifth place. The other Sauber car, however, didn't fare as well, having collided with Grosjean and retired after the ensuing pit-stop thanks to an improperly secured wheel over which a mechanic had tripped. The remaining points went to Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, Button and Hulkenberg.



The results catapult Alonso into a tied lead with Vettel at 61 points each as Hamilton trails with 53. Raikkonen now holds 49 points in fourth, just ahead of Webber with 48, Button's 45, Rosberg at 41, Grosjean holding 35 and Maldonado now eighth in the standings with 29 points. The combined scores leave Red Bull still firmly in the lead with 109 points ahead of McLaren's 98, Lotus' 84 and Ferrari's 63 as Mercedes and Williams each hold 43.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      summazooma
      • 2 Years Ago
      Alonso has really shown up this year, putting a terribly poor car on the podium in regular fashion. Where was Massa, 15th? This from a driver who almost won the championship a few years ago? Nice of Alonso and Kimi to hoist Maldonado on their shoulders on the podium. And, finally... no mention of SPEED's leaving before the post-race interviews for a SOCCER GAME?!!!! REALLY (and, yes, my voice is at a Stephen A. Smith volume for this)... this has to be the single biggest sign that F1 will never become relevant for the powers that be, even if it is for a core group of enthusiasts. SOCCER ON SPEED-TV? IS MURDOCH THAT IN LOVE WITH CHELSEA?!!! Wonder if it'd happened if it was either, A) the British GP, or, B) won by Button or Hamilton? On the other hand, it was won by a Billys (headed by Sir Frank), so perhaps a British driver win wouldn't have mattered, after all... Oh, well, I guess NASCAR called and told them that a decently competitive F1 season can't trigger any kind of following.
        StephenT
        • 2 Years Ago
        @summazooma
        I think the soccer was a Fox thing because they had multiple games on other Fox stations as well. I'm sure Speed didn't have a choice. It would had been interesting to see what would have happened had there been some sort of extended red flag period that delayed the end of the race.
        Matthew
        • 2 Years Ago
        @summazooma
        I didn't understand the switch to soccer either. Was pretty upset I had to go somewhere else to watch post race analysis and interview.
        Jew
        • 2 Years Ago
        @summazooma
        I found it very odd that Speeds coverage conveniently missed the Venezuelan national anthem and picked up right after they ended. I know FOX is their daddy and they must obey but still a dirty move on your part and very disrespectful to not show respect to a drivers first win. Shame on you FOX! Garbage like this is the reason I stream F1 via BBC and SKY online.
      MotionDesigner
      • 2 Years Ago
      Didn't Pastor Maldonado race all season last year alongside Barrichello? How/why is he still a rookie? Good race though. Was really pulling for Alonso on this one. Very surprised how easily and quickly his tires faded on that Ferrari chassis even though they were newer Maldonado's tires. He barely beat Raikkonen at the end.
      dadslife83
      • 2 Years Ago
      He is not a rookie. This is his sophomore season.
      Narom
      • 2 Years Ago
      No mention of the fire nor kimi's electric pace to catch up and if it wasn't for wrong strategy probably won the race? No mention of pastor putting in a cracking out lap or Alonso getting held up by Charles pic? I'm glad I watched the race and didn't solely rely on this report!
      ufgrat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seriously??!? Senna got a puncture on the opening lap, apparently from tangling with Grosjean's Lotus, and made it back to the pits. He didn't make it anywhere after Schumi ran through the back of his car, except to the side of the track. You also failed to note that Hamilton made it from 24th up to 4th, eventually falling back to 8th, to finish in the points, and ahead of his teammate Button, and only stopped for tires twice (demonstrating once and for all, he can take care of his tires, AND pass nearly everyone at least once). Then there's the minor story that there was a fuel spill, a fairly dramatic fire, and several members of various teams had to be treated for injuries and smoke inhalation. You guys don't actually watch these races, do you?
      adrive7
      • 2 Years Ago
      And then Ferrari set the Williams garage on fire. Presumably by parking a Ferrari in it. Seriously though, no mention of the Williams fire? Seems relevant.
        ufgrat
        • 2 Years Ago
        @adrive7
        I thought it was the candles on Sir Frank's birthday cake.
        MotionDesigner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @adrive7
        "Presumably by parking a Ferrari in it." You get points for that.
      Jack
      • 2 Years Ago
      I watched the race, so I'm not reading this, but in a quick skim I didn't notice ANYTHING about the post race fire. Seriously?
      Autoblogist
      • 2 Years Ago
      I swear it's like Mclaren is trying to get rid of Hamilton after this season. Two world champs and they seem to make every effort to thwart both winning. Between that and the inconsistent stewarts , Mclaren will be a mid pack team, by the 2nd half of the season.
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      The race was good. The result was enriching and the team garage CAUGHT FIRE(!) while Sir Williams was giving a post race speech. 7 people injured, every mechanic on the paddock blowing extinguishers into the garage, Senna's car burned to a hulk. No story here!
        Redline
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Drakkon
        That's one way to get rid of any "irregularities" that might be found on the car! Just kidding btw
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
    • Load More Comments