Pastor Maldonado targets title challenge after Spanish GP win

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at the Circuit de Catalunya

Williams driver Pastor Maldonado believes he may be able to mount a title challenge after scoring his maiden win in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Venezuelan became the fifth different winner this season by beating Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in Barcelona.

When asked if he felt he could win the title, Maldonado, 27, said: "Everything is possible.

"We aren't the best team at the moment. [But] the gaps are close and I'm driving well."

He added: "I have a good feeling with the team and with the car."

Maldonado is ninth in the drivers' standings, 32 points off the championship lead.

Some of the shine was taken off the victory when a fire broke out in the Williams pit as they were celebrating after the race.

Four of their mechanics, four from the Caterham team and one from Force India received treatment after the incident. Initial reports from the teams involved were that none were seriously hurt.

Speaking before the incident, Maldonado said: "We are looking to do our best, looking forward to winning some races, to getting a couple more podiums.

"And I'm really happy because the team hasn't won many races for many years so this is a great moment for us. I hope to continue like that."

The championship is headed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who are tied on 61 points, with the German ahead on results countback.

Alonso, whose team made a major step forward in Spain after starting the season with an uncompetitive car, expressed his surprise that he should find himself at the head of the championship.

He said: "What we can say is we have probably had the most difficult start of a championship in these three years in Ferrari, with a car that was not competitive at all, and we finish the first quarter of the championship, the fifth race out of 20, and we are leading the championship, or the same points as Vettel.

"So we have to be very, very proud and very happy with the points we achieved and with the position. Maybe we have not to be so proud about how competitive we are but we are working on that."

Vettel finished sixth in Spain after Red Bull's most uncompetitive performance of the year.

The fact that it came at a track on which Red Bull have dominated for the last two years underlined the unpredictability of this season.

Vettel said: "It's valuable points. It's difficult for us to understand what's going on."

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted the Italian outfit needed to continue to make steps forward with their car if they wanted to maintain their position.

"I look at it as the glass is half full," he said. "That has to be a push for all the engineers at home to make sure we improve the car, because if we want to win this championship we have to make a massive step and keep improving the downforce mainly.

"With all the problems we had since the beginning of the season, to be at the top of the championship means at least we are there but we have to keep improving because our target has not changed."