Pastor Maldonado says that Renault’s decision to drop him for Jolyon Palmer in 2016 was a “very bad move” and one he didn’t understand.
After spending three seasons with Williams, Maldonado joined the team then known as Lotus for the 2014 campaign at a time when there were huge financial issues for the outfit.
Looking back on it, he thinks it made sense to join the team but feels that within just a few months everything had changed for the worse.
“At the time, I had two options: Force India and Lotus,” he told the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com.
“It was a very logical choice. They sponsored big names, as well as brands with an interest in my country. You had Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft. Lots of good, interesting sponsors.
“Between the end of November and the beginning of January it had become a completely different team. Eric Boullier had left the team, everyone was gone. There were few people, there was a lot of stress and we didn’t know what to do.
“The simulator was discontinued because there was no money to reactivate it. And in the simulator, only two or three circuits were uploaded, because each circuit cost 20,000 euros!”
Can't guarantee this guy's gonna remain sober for much longer this evening 😇 pic.twitter.com/zSzisUXN1n
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) July 27, 2014
The issues were just as serious on the track, with the team only scoring 10 points that year, two coming courtesy of Maldonado.
This was largely because of the poor reliability of a Renault engine; one that was winning races in the hands of Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull.
This, Maldonado says, took its toll on team morale.
“We didn’t make it to the finish half of the season because of structural, mechanical problems or power sources that broke down themselves,” he recalled.
“They [Red Bull] even won races and were able to compete with Mercedes, while we didn’t even manage to get the car working. It wasn’t that we were slow, but that the engine didn’t even start. That weighs heavily on a team and it was therefore not nice to be there at that time.”
Ultimately, the team would become Renault again after a better 2015 season for them in which he scored 27 points, 24 less than team-mate Romain Grosjean, who claimed a podium.
After some mixed messages, the decision was made to replace Maldonado with Palmer, and it’s one that the Venezuelan
, who clearly doesn’t rate the Brit, is heavily critical of.
“When the team became Renault, I knew I couldn’t stay, but we didn’t understand, one day they said yes and the next day it was no. It was always a mess,” he said.
“We didn’t understand, they chose Palmer as the driver… It’s incredible, even if he brings money. Some very bad decisions have been made, both about the car and the drivers and about the technical staff. ”