Venezuela hails Formula One race winner

Pastor Maldonado was hailed a national hero on Monday after becoming the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race on Sunday in Spain. Locals in Caracas showed off placards with the writing “Maldonado, the pride of Venezuela!” and the El Universal paper named him “Our Shepard,” in reference to his first name. Maldonado, 27, caused the latest surprise in a turbulent F1 season on Sunday when he won the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams ahead of Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, with whom Maldonado has appeared in public on several occasions, had also expressed his delight about the victory via the social network Twitter. “Our Pastor Maldonado won, making history! Barvo Pastor. Congratulations to you and your fighting team!” Chavez tweeted. Henrique Capriles, Chavez’ challenger for the presidency in the upcoming elections, also congratulated Maldonado via twitter, saying: “Great Maldonado! Congratulations to Pastor.” Maldonado joined Formula One last season and until Sunday was often seen merely as a “pay driver,” getting the contract only because he brought with him a big sponsor in Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

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