F1 paddock sighs with relief as Pastor Maldonado departs the sport

Venezuelan racing driver Pastor Maldonado will not be entering the 2016 Formula One season after failing to secure a deal with Renault Sport Formula One Team, purchasers of what was left from financially beleaguered Lotus F1.

Maldonado, who was given the nickname “Crashtor” after demonstrating an erratic driving style and causing several accidents throughout is Formula One career, was a controversial figure within the sport. In particular a lot of attention was focused on the money he bought to Lotus F1 through sponsorship. Many fans of the sport believed that Maldonado didn’t earn a place based on merit but instead was given a driving seat based purely on money he bought through sponsorship from the PDVSA oil company. This may be a somewhat unfair opinion given that Maldonado won the 2010 GP2 Championship driving for Rapax and won six races in one season, a record at the time.

Fans of Maldonado will say that he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso whilst driving for Williams Renault. However, this was only his third ever points scoring finish in 24 races and neither Maldonado, his team, or anyone else in the F1 paddock quite understood how he managed it. Further more, there was a fire after the race in the Williams garage which some sceptics suggested was deliberately caused by Williams to hide foul play with Maldonado’s car. Of course that theory is flawed as Maldonado’s car wasn’t in the garage at the time. It was, in fact, team-mate Bruno Senna’s car which was damaged by the fire.

Maldonado’s legacy

Pastor Maldonado became the subject of many internet memes such as this
Pastor Maldonado became the subject of many internet memes such as this

Despite becoming a high-profile figure within Formula One, Maldonado is likely to be remembered mainly for his controversial style of driving. FIA stewards found him responsible for causing many accidents. These included side-swiping Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren Mercedes during qualifying for the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, causing an avoidable collision with Sergio Pérez during a practice session of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix and then running into the back of Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT during the race, the 2012 German Grand Prix where he was penalised for causing an avoidable collision on Force India’s Paul di Resta, the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix where Maldonado was deemed to have caused a collision with Marussia’s Timo Glock after jumping the start, the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix where he collided with Esteban Gutiérrez after making a pit stop which caused Gutiérrez’s car to roll over, the 2014 Grand Prix where he caused a collision when trying to pass Marcus Ericsson (and received points on his Super Licence)…there’s a lot more and I won’t bore you with the rest. Lots of crashes, lots of penalties, lots of damage to cars…and his career.

What next for Pastor Maldonado?

At this time no one knows. It’s possible that he will enter a different area of motor racing, perhaps stock car racing [sorry, I couldn’t help having a little dig]. However, with oil prices at the lowest in over a decade, sponsorship cash is likely to begin to dry up and there won’t be many teams looking to take on a driver with a poor track record when it comes to crashes and, frankly, dangerous driving. PDVSA have already failed to pay their bills to Renault which Maldonado says is the main cause of his F1 exit. If he was as good a driver as he thinks then surely Renault (or Haas) would have snapped him up.

Perhaps he’ll travel with his cousin, Manuel, who has entered Italian FP4 at the age of 15. Let’s hope that Pastor doesn’t give too much advice away to Manny, hey…

 

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