16 May 2012

Maldonado's F1 win unites Venezuela

6:43 am on 16 May 2012

Pastor Maldonado's remarkable first Formula One victory has brought a rare moment of national unity to his Venezuelan homeland which has been bitterly divided months before a presidential vote.

The 27-year-old driver winner of the Spanish Grand Prix for the Williams team has been closely associated with President Hugo Chavez's socialist government, but his win has elevated him to the status of a national hero.

Venezuela's state oil company has been backing Maldonado since his debut season last year.

During the most dramatic day of his life, Maldonado also carried his young cousin to safety after fire engulfed the Williams team's garage after the race.