Williams F1 driver Pastor Maldonado was on the front page of every newspaper in Venezuela which featured photographs of his post-race celebrations, and every television news report led with the story of his stunning win in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

"I think everybody who saw the race and for sure all the people are happy at the moment and this is great for Venezuela after nearly thirty years without any driver in F1," said Maldonado. "I think it's a great moment for our country.

"Everyone is so happy in my country. I'm very lucky to have a country behind me, pushing so hard, to see me here in F1 and especially to be here [on the podium]," he added. "I'm pretty happy for Venezuela, I'm happy for Williams as well. They did a wonderful job to give me a great car for this race. We are getting better and better, race after race."

"Venezuela has covered itself with glory," said PDVSA, the state oil company that provides financial backing for Maldonado's F1 participation with Williams.

Reuters reported that scores of residents in Caracas had been tooting their car horns and unfurling banners emblazoned with "Maldonado, pride of Venezuela!" on them, and there were also big celebrations in Aragua, Maldonado's home state.

And where popular jubilations are breaking out, the politicians are never too far away - including the country's highly controversial socialist president of the last 13 years, Hugo Chavez.

"Our Pastor Maldonado won, making history," the president tweeted after the race as he proposed that there should be a national holiday to celebrate. "Bravo Pastor! Congratulations to you and all your fighting team! We shall overcome!"

In the post-race press conference at the Circuit de Catalunya, Maldonado was asked whether the president had been on the phone to him yet and the race winner had to concede that there hadn't been time for anything like that.

"No, not yet because I was on the podium before, so no time to even see my family, my people," he said. "Maybe he will call. I don't know."

Maldonado has long been linked with Chavez government and his success in F1 often presented as a symbol of Chavez's socialist agenda, but this weekend's success has pushed him well beyond partisan politics and into the stratosphere of national hero that even Chavez' opponents are rushing to congratulate.

"Fantastic Maldonado!" tweeted Henrique Capriles, who will be opposing Chavez in the October presidential elections. "Congratulations for Pastor, for Aragua and for all our Venezuela with this triumph in F1. Long live Venezuela!"

Even the anti-Chavez El Universal newspaper was moved to run the headline "Our Pastor" ("our shepherd") over Maldonado's picture on Monday morning.

Now Maldonado's a proven race winner, which will just put him under even more pressure to perform and make sure that he is not a one-hit wonder.

"I'm driving well, I have a good feeling with the team, with the car, so everything is possible," he insisted. "For sure we are looking to do our best, looking forward to winning some races, to getting a couple more podiums

"This is great for motivation, to motivate the team, the factory, to keep pushing like that," he added. "I think this is the way. We are motivated and we need to keep pushing."