Controversial F1 driver saved 12-year-old from fire

Pastor Maldonado took victory at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix but it was his pre-race heroic actions that ensured his place in Formula 1 history.

Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan racer, achieved a remarkable triumph at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, securing his first and only Formula 1 race victory. 

However, his feat was overshadowed by a significant incident that unfolded on the same day, demonstrating his heroism off the track.

Maldonado had faced harsh criticism after a lackluster debut season in Formula 1, with only one point to his name. 

Many dismissed him as a mere pay driver. Yet, during the Barcelona race weekend 11 years ago, he silenced his critics in emphatic fashion. 

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The season had commenced with seven different drivers winning the first seven races.

Taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton’s misfortune, Maldonado secured pole position for the race. 

Hamilton had set the fastest time but was disqualified by the stewards due to insufficient fuel for his in lap. 

This turn of events propelled Maldonado to pole position, and he remarkably fended off the challenge from home favourite Fernando Alonso to claim victory.

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The triumph came as a surprise not only to Maldonado but also to his team, Williams. It marked the team’s first victory in eight years and coincided with founder Sir Frank Williams’ 70th birthday weekend. 

Maldonado’s on-track heroics were worthy of prolonged celebration, but unfortunately, the attention quickly shifted to an unforeseen incident.

While Sir Frank was delivering a victory speech to his staff, a fire broke out in the garage, engulfing the area in thick, black smoke that spilled into the pit lane. 

Faced with danger, team members, media personnel, and photographers swiftly evacuated. However, Maldonado’s 12-year-old cousin, Manuel, who had been holding the winner’s trophy, had a protective boot on his broken foot. 

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Showing remarkable bravery, Maldonado picked up Manuel and carried him on his back down the pit lane to safety.

The incident brought teams from various paddock rivals together, as they joined Williams staff in extinguishing the flames. 

It took approximately 20 minutes to control the blaze, but not without consequences. 

A total of 31 individuals received treatment, mostly for smoke inhalation, including some mechanics from other teams who had rushed to assist.

Thankfully, there were no casualties, and all those injured made a full recovery. 

Maldonado’s victory not only secured his place in Formula 1 history but also endeared him to fans worldwide. 

The race day’s events showcased his courage and selflessness, highlighting the true character of the Venezuelan driver.