Pastor Maldonado's unexpected victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix
has led to a stream of congratulations for both the Venezuelan and the Williams
team, but there is one man who, while pleased for the former GP2 champion, who wishes he could have been the one pushing him into F1.
Giancarlo Minardi established a reputation as both a discoverer of talent and someone prepared to take a punt on those that looked likely to miss out otherwise - see Giancarlo Fisichella
and Jarno Trulli
in the former category and Mark Webber
and Justin Wilson in the latter - but regrets that he was not able to take his involvement with Maldonado further than a maiden F1 test.
The Venezuelan was still in Formula Renault
when he received an unexpected call from Minardi asking if he would join a session alongside then DTM regular Christijan Albers, F3000 frontrunner Patrick Friesacher, Australian hopefuls Will Power and Will Davison and Champ Car refugee Tiago Monteiro at Misano in 2004. Maldonado posted the third fastest time, but it would be another seven years - four of them spent in GP2 - before he got his F1 break with Williams.
"I'm happy for Pastor - finally he got to where I always thought he could get," Minardi commented, "As the first to believe in him, however, the joy for his first pole position and first victory in F1 leaves me with a bit of regret because he's not my driver. After the test [at Misano], several managers came forward, all economically stronger than me, and took him a way from me. But the joy remains from working first with another young talent, and I will continue to work to find others and help them achieve their dreams."