At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Maldonado inherited pole position when Lewis Hamilton failed to return an adequate fuel sample to the FIA and was ordered to start at the back of the grid. He drove excellently, holding off world champions Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso to take a famous win.
Alonso finished second, 3.1sec behind Maldonado after pressuring him for much of the race.
It was also Williams’ first race win since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
However, the following season heMaldonado was regularly outqualified by rookie team-mate Valtteri Bottas. When he moved to Lotus in 2014, team-mate Romain Grosjean outshone the Venezuelan also. In F1, consistency is key, which Maldonado lacked.
Robert Kubica – Canada 2008
Robert Kubica became the first Polish driver in F1 when he signed for BMW Sauber in 2006. A fantastic driver who could have achieved more behind the wheel of a capable car, Kubica started 99 races and found the podium 12 times, with one pole position and fastest lap.
At the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, his car’s nose was lifted into the air by a broken front wing, and unable to brake or steer, it hit the concrete wall and ricocheted into the opposite barrier at a speed of 186.49mph. The car was destroyed, Kubica’s feet visible at the end of the broken car.
But a year later, the Pole was back at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and this time, in the most poetic of ways, he attained his only F1 race win.
Lewis Hamilton failed to heed a red light in the pit lane, the McLaren rear-ending Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari, with Nico Rosberg also crashing into the pair.
All this handed Kubica the lead, heading team-mate Nick Heidfeld home to score a BMW Sauber 1-2, the first time a German constructor had won a Grand Prix since 1962.
The Pole’s F1 career would ultimately peak on that day. He suffered a near-fatal crash at the 2011 Ronde di Andora Rally but returned to F1 in 2019, however he never reached the same heights as that famous race in Canada.
Alessandro Nannini – 1989 Japan GP
Wins don’t always happen in a perfect scenario, and Alessandro Nannini was not entirely happy with how he won his only F1 race.
The 1989 Japanese Grand Prix is infamously remembered for the culmination point of the rivalry between McLaren team-mates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, that clash ultimately bringing the Italian a debut win.
Nannini was sixth on the starting grid, whilst Senna was on pole but fell behind Prost at the start.
The Brazilian stayed behind until lap 40, diving up the inside at the final chicane. Prost turned in and the two collided.
It was the end of the Frenchman’s race but Senna restarted his car, overtook Nannini and eventually finished first. He was controversially disqualified for rejoining the race via an escape road though, handing Prost the championship and Nannini the race.
“I must say, I would prefer to win by actually crossing the line in first place,” commented Nannini afterwards.
A year after his victory, he was involved in a horrifying helicopter crash which severed his right forearm. Nannini never drove in an F1 race again.
Vittorio Brambilla – 1975 Austria GP
It was at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix that Vittorio Brambilla, nicknamed ‘The Monza Gorilla’, took his sole victory.
Championship contenders Niki Lauda and James Hunt were on the front row, but the rainy conditions did not favour the former, who eventually fell down to sixth.