Analysis: Does Pastor Maldonado deserve his bad F1 reputation?

Pastor Maldonado doesn't usually make positive headlines in Formula 1, but his points finish in the Canadian Grand Prix gave cause to discuss him for good reasons for a change

Analysis: Does Pastor Maldonado deserve his bad F1 reputation?

Maldonado has a bad reputation in F1, and in a world where perception is nine tenths of the law that's a difficult thing to shake off.

Many fans appear to regard him as something of a comic character, principally because they've decided he's a 'pay driver' and a habitual crasher.

It's commonplace nowadays to see Twitter come alive with mock-up pictures every time Maldonado gets involved in another scrape.

And many people also dislike the fact Venezuelan petro-dollars have funded his career, even though having your career financially backed for patriotic reasons is a pastime as old as grand prix racing itself.

The pay driver tag is something Maldonado will never escape, unless he somehow ends up driving for a top team and becomes regularly successful, but beyond the money and the frequent incidents lurks a capable driver, just one who cannot seem to harness his capabilities consistently enough to be taken more seriously.

WHERE ARE THE POINTS PASTOR?

Since graduating to F1 as the reigning GP2 champion in 2011, Maldonado has scored points in less than 10 of the 83 grands prix he's started. His seventh placed finish for Lotus in last Sunday's Canadian GP was just the ninth points finish of his career.

It's true he has a poor scoring and finishing record in F1, but for reasons not entirely of his own making.

Maldonado has retired from 28 of the 83 races he's started in F1 (34 per cent), but 16 of those retirements (57 per cent) were down to technical problems.

Only four times has he retired for reasons entirely his own (spins), so what of the other nine?

Well therein lies the rub. Many of the incidents that define Maldonado's reputation are collisions with other drivers, but (contrary to popular opinion) they are not always clearly his fault.

What could he do, for example, about Lewis Hamilton driving into him in Monaco in 2011, or Max Chilton at the same event two years later?

He's had three accidents with other drivers this season alone, but in all three cases he was hit from behind...

Unfortunately, when Maldonado does trigger collisions the incident usually sticks in the mind - driving into Paul di Resta's Force India while trying to get into the pits in Belgium in 2013, for example, or tipping Esteban Gutierrez into a roll in Bahrain last year.

HAS HE TURNED A CORNER?

But it's not fair to criticise Maldonado without acknowledging the good. This is, after all, the same driver who beat Fernando Alonso's Ferrari to victory in the 2012 Spanish GP fair and square.

That stands as Williams's only victory since the last race of 2004...

ANALYSIS: How Maldonado defeated Alonso in 2012

This season Maldonado has driven well, usually very close to Romain Grosjean in qualifying and sometimes quicker in the races thanks to excellent tyre management.

He's been extremely unlucky to finish only two of the seven grands prix held so far.

"His problems are silly little slip-ups he makes," Alan Permane, Lotus's head of trackside operations, told AUTOSPORT.

"He's quick, he's consistent, he can look after tyres, his feedback is fantastic; his problem is the little errors.

"He knows that and he's working hard to stop that.

"In a very tricky situation [in Canada], doing a long stint, having to concentrate, having to look after brakes, he didn't put a foot wrong.

"Let us hope it is a little bit of a turning point for him."

It's a start, certainly, but Maldonado will need many more trouble-free races before he can leave his bad reputation behind.

MALDONADO'S POINTS FINISHES IN F1

Seventh in the recent Canadian GP actually represents Maldonado's third-best finish in F1. Here's the full list of his nine scoring results:

10th in 2011 Belgian GP
8th in 2012 Chinese GP
1st in 2012 Spanish GP
8th in 2012 Japanese GP
5th in 2012 Abu Dhabi GP
9th in 2012 US GP
10th in 2013 Hungarian GP
9th in 2014 US GP
7th in 2015 Canadian GP

shares
comments
Jolyon Palmer gets five more F1 grand prix practice runs for Lotus

Previous article

Jolyon Palmer gets five more F1 grand prix practice runs for Lotus

Next article

Pirelli: Slower than expected 2015 F1 pace helping cause one-stops

Pirelli: Slower than expected 2015 F1 pace helping cause one-stops
Load comments
Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Plus

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. On the 50th anniversary of his death, Autosport recalls the career of an F1 and sportscar ace gone before his time

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021