Pastor Maldonado has left the building. Dropped by Renault when the money ran out, F1’s most vilified pay driver will not be on the grid this season and for some reason – five to be precise – PlanetF1 admits we’ll miss him (a bit)…
Pastor Maldonado crashed and he crashed often, so often that a website was dedicated to his accidents (hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com) and memes were created to mark the moments. Did you know he brought down the Titanic?
Averaging one incident every two grand prix weekends Maldonado didn’t just crash into rival drivers, he even took out his team-mate. And if no one was around to crash into it, he’d just crash into a wall.
Nothing and no one was safe. Amusing for those watching on, not so funny for the mechanics who had to repair the damage and those who lost points because of him.
No one played it better than Pastor. The proverbial car insurance tale about the tree jumping into the road, that was invented by the Formula 1 driver. He could crash into a wall – and did all too often – and blame the wall, the car, the weather, the tyres, just about everything and anything but Pastor Maldonado.
He even blamed journalists for his bad reputation, saying they are “seeking news where there is none” while other people were trying to “conceal my talent and tarnish my image.”
And to some degree he was right because when you’re involved in incidents as frequently as he was it is easy for everyone to look at you as the problem.
Case in point is the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix when Jenson Button ran into the back of Maldonado while exiting Turn 17 late in the race. Button blamed the Lotus driver saying: “He hasn’t changed, and he won’t ever change.”
But as everyone on the road knows, if you drive into the back of someone it is always your fault.
Moment(s) Of Brilliance
You can’t take it away from him; Pastor Maldonado is a grand prix winner having triumphed at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. In what was Formula 1’s most chaotic start to a season in the last decade – seven different winners in the first seven grands prix – Maldonado added his name to the F1 winners’ list.
He started the Barcelona race from pole position, inheriting the grid slot when Lewis Hamilton was excluded from qualifying as his McLaren had insufficient fuel onboard to reach parc ferme, and put in a solid display to hold off Fernando Alonso for the victory.
In doing so he became the first Venezuelan driver to finish on the Formula 1 podium and, as things stand, he is the last man to win a race for the Williams team.
Pay v Talent Debate
Maldonado entered Formula 1 on the back of his 2010 GP2 triumph with Rapax Team, a season in which he claimed six race victories, and edged out Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi for the title. That is a clear sign that he had talent.
However along with his talent came millions from Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, who reportedly paid around $30 million for his seat. That is a lot of money.
As his crashes began to cost a sizeable chunk of that money people forgot that Maldonado was a GP2 title winner and focused more on the fact that someone was paying a lot of money for his drive whereas others with more talent than money were struggling – and often failing – to get into the sport.
With money overtaking talent Maldonado became the poster driver for all that is wrong with pay drivers. As Mark Webber so aptly said: “He’ out of his depth and just shouldn’t be there. He’s making up the numbers basically.”
Those numbers all came with dollar signs.
Need we say more…