Pastor Maldonado hasn't made an impact on the scoreboard during his nine-race Formula 1 career. But that's not to say that the Venezuelan rookie has been a failure, despite the baggage that bringing money to the Williams team lumbered the GP2 champion with. He has looked far from out of place in F1 and although his remarkable drive at Monaco - where he was bundled out of sixth place by Lewis Hamilton late in the race - is the highlight, there have been other very promising signs.
Take his qualifying performances compared to his veteran team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Five times he has outqualified the Brazilian and since the Spanish Grand Prix, where Maldonado first made the top 10 shoot-out that is Q3, it has been the younger Williams driver who has usually shown the better single-lap speed. In a season during which Williams has scored a scant four points, the promise shown by Maldonado has been one of the positives.
He first drove an F1 car at Misano in 2004, completing 22 laps in a Minardi, but it wasn't until last November's rookie test that his real career in the big league started. His journey from F1 novice to proven grand prix driver - for he has shown beyond question that he merits a shot at this level - has been the steepest learning curve of his life. Sharing it every step of the way have been his race engineer Xevi Pujolar and data engineer Andrew Murdoch.
Spaniard Pujolar was at Hispania in 2010 prior to returning to his old team Williams this year. This means that he engineered Maldonado for the three days of running that he completed for Hispania at Yas Marina last November; first during the rookie test and then the inaugural Pirelli tyre try-out. Murdoch engineered Maldonado when he drove for Williams for a day during the Yas Marina young driver test, and so both have been involved with their relatively young charger pretty much from his beginnings in F1.
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