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
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Plus

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021