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Hero's homecoming for Williams' Maldonado in Venezuela 17 Jan 2011

Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW23. Pastor Maldonado Williams Demonstration, Caracus, Venezuela, 14 January 2011. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW23. Pastor Maldonado Williams Demonstration, Caracas, Venezuela, 14 January 2011. Pastor Maldonado during his demonstration run in the FW32, Caracas, Venezuela, 14 January 2011. © Williams

Pastor Maldonado enjoyed a warm welcome from his home crowd in Venezuela on Friday as the Williams team celebrated his recent confirmation as one of their drivers for the forthcoming season. Maldonado demonstrated the British team’s FW32 at the historical Paseo de los Proceres in the capital city of Caracas in front of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“It was unbelievable to share this experience with my countrymen,” said Maldonado. “The amount of people that turned out to watch was just amazing. Los Proceres 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!”

Maldonado completed a number of laps of the improvised track and delighted the crowd by concluding the spectacle with a series of doughnuts. Organisers estimated 20,000 people witnessed the landmark event, which was the first time a Venezuelan had driven a Formula One car in front of his home crowd.

“We’ve had an amazing day in Caracas,” said Williams F1 chairman Adam Parr. “Los Proceres, 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.”

After wowing Venezuela, 25-year-old Maldonado is expected to return to Europe to join team mate Rubens Barrichello, ahead of 2011's first multi-team test at the Spanish circuit of Valencia from February 1-3.

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