Sir Frank Williams says Pastor Maldonado has shown the potential to be a Formula One champion after taking his maiden victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Venezuelan driver stormed to the top step of the podium with an impressive drive at Catalunya, where he kept pace with Fernando Alonso before jumping ahead of the Ferrari man during the second round of pitstops.
Even when he came under pressure from the double champion as the race wore on, Maldonado wasn't to be stopped as he gave Williams a first win since 2004 and the team boss said he wasn't surprised to see the 26-year-old show his doubters that he is more than just a pay driver.
"We've got a real racing driver,” he told the Press Association
. "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."
Indeed, Williams said he felt Maldonado – a title winner in GP2 back in 2010 – could go all the way and be a champion in F1 as well.
"Undoubtedly, and I'll tell you why,” he replied when asked if Maldonado has the potential to be a champion. “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."