Williams praise for Maldonado
Sir Frank Williams has no doubts Pastor Maldonado has what it takes to become a Formula One world champion.
Although a fire that gutted his team's garage took the gloss off Maldonado's victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, Williams was still full of admiration for the Venezuelan.
The feeling at the end of last year was that but for the funds he brings with him from oil and gas giant PDVSA, Maldonado would not have retained his seat, despite a wretched season for the team.
The transformation this season, however, has been remarkable as Williams have gone from the worst year on track in their history to grand prix winners again in the space of a few months.
With an influx of new technical people and power supplied by the might of Renault, Williams are again on the rise, and Maldonado is benefiting.
The question marks hanging over the 26-year-old have now been removed in the wake of Sunday's performance at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
Founder of the Grove-based marque and team principal Williams said: "We've got a real racing driver.
"I am just astonished by the way he controlled himself, not making a mistake at all.
"His potential could be very considerable indeed. We'd be sad to lose him quite aside from any commercial considerations."
Asked if Maldonado had the potential to be a champion, Williams added: "Undoubtedly, and I'll tell you why, because he is very quick and he does not make mistakes.
"In his first race with a chance of winning he wasn't flummoxed under pressure, and there was an enormous amount of pressure.
"When a driver who has not led before is out in front he tends to make a mistake.
"As the race goes on the pressure grows to not think about being on the podium, about what your mother's going to say, how much the prize money is going to be, not to crash, not to make mistakes, brake a little earlier, look after the car.
"But from what I saw he didn't come near to making a mistake. He was calm on the radio the entire time. That's what champions do."
The win was the 114th for the team, with the 113th seven and a half years ago in Brazil in Juan Pablo Montoya's last race for the Grove-based marque.
Despite the 132-race wait to savour that winning feeling again, Williams has admitted he was far from worried as the race wore on and the elusive victory drew nearer.
"He was clear of traffic, he was in control, the car was going well and there were no mechanical worries," said Williams.
"The balance was also very good, the track seemed stable and other cars weren't spinning on dust or anything on the track.
"I can honestly say I was less agitated or worried than I have been in many, many other wins.
"But we've had to wait a very embarrassingly long time for this one. We should have done better in class, but we didn't."