Pastor: I still feel undervalued in F1

Date published: August 11 2015

He has been accused of being a "pay driver", is one of the most criticised drivers and even has a website making fun of him, but Pastor Maldonado says has learned to "live" with it all.

The Venezuelan entered Formula 1 in 2011 with Williams and many said he only got his seat as he brought the team big financial investment through oil company PDVSA.

However, he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with Williams and stayed with the team for another season before moving to Lotus at the start of the 2014 campaign.

Despite being a grand prix winner and a veteran of nearly 100 races, Maldonado often cops a lot of flak as many believe he is involved in one too many crashes and someone even created a website called "hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com"

When asked by Brazil's Globo.com how he deals with the criticism, he replied: "I'll be honest, if you ask me if I like it, the answer is of course not. I prefer other kind of opinion, especially the truth. Yes, I was involved in some incidents.

"Imagine, for example, the crash in Austria if my car was that of Alonso's. [He was referring to the clash between Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso of McLaren on the first lap]. And what happened? Nothing, no one was punished, just a racing incident between two World Champion. If I was involved, it would be a big scandal, there would be a huge media pressure. This is just an example of what happens when I am on track."

He added: "Yes, I am responsible for some of these incidents. But one experience that made me laugh was in China this year when Jenson [Button] tagged me. Everyone said I was to blame, because whenever I am involved everyone says I'm to blame.

"I read some news that I was responsible and should have been punished by the stewards. [Button was handed a five-second penalty and two penalty points to his licence for the incident.] There is always pressure from the media, whether I'm right or wrong. There is always someone that seeks to hide my talent and tarnish my image in Formula 1."

Although he has been on the grid for nearly five seasons, Maldonado is still accused of being a "pay driver", but he feels he has proved that he deserves to be in Formula 1.

"In the beginning there was huge pressure being a 'pay driver'. But I've learned to live with it and it is not everyone who can win a Formula 1 race without having the best car," he said. "With the best, many can, it's much easier. But if you don't have the best car, as we had in Spain [with Williams] three years ago, it was something unexpected.

"A lot people underestimated me and my victory in Barcelona was a great lesson for them. Today I still feel undervalued in F1. But only because I have not had a car in recent years that allows me to showcase my talent.[However] it gives me even more strength to get out on track and show what I can do, learn, not only to drive, but the technical aspects.

He added: "There are drivers who do not deserve to be here in F1, but I believe I have demonstrated that I deserve, clearly, to stay here for long."