The AT&T Williams team took Venezuela by storm today as local hero, Pastor Maldonado, fired up the country in a demonstration run of the 2010 Williams Cosworth FW32 as a prelude to his debut in Formula One.
Following November’s announcement confirming Pastor’s appointment as an AT&T Williams race driver for the 2011 season, Venezuela invited the team to visit the country to carry out the event. This afternoon’s run was staged in Caracas against one of the capital’s most historic backdrops, Paseo de los Próceres, and in the presence of President Chavez. Pastor completed a number of laps of the improvised track, concluding the spectacle with a series of doughnuts to the delights of the crowds. Organisers estimated 20,000 people witnessed today’s landmark event, the first time a Venezuelan has driven a Formula One car in front of his crowd.
Of the event, Pastor commented, “It was unbelievable to share this experience with my countrymen. The amount of people that turned out to watch was just amazing. Los Próceres is a very important place so to drive a Formula One car there is special to me. I was also honoured to drive in front of our President, Mr Chavez. What a great way to start my season!”
Adam Parr, Chairman of Williams F1 and who was in Venezuela for the demonstration, said, “We’ve had an amazing day in Caracas, with what looked like about 20,000 people in attendance. Los Próceres, a very important monument to the liberators of Venezuela, was a very dramatic setting for the event and we were honoured with the presence of a number of Ministers and, of course, President Chavez. Pastor did a great job, as did the team, and I think we gave the people of Caracas a taste of how exciting Formula One is.”