Is Formula One losing one of its treasures with Maldonado?
Pastor Maldonado is leaving an interesting legacy behind him in F1. Also known as The Maldonator, the driver amounted more crashes and penalties than probably any other single driver during his tenure. Also, no matter how you spin it, Pastor was not particularly well liked. The hot-headed Venezuelan has been considered dangerous and a menace on track. And of course, Pastor would never admit any of the controversy was his own fault, a not uncommon trait in F1 drivers, but when you slowly piss off everyone on the grid, it’s likely to come back to bite you.
Yet it’s honestly quite sad that Pastor is leaving the sport. The man was one of the last truly unpredictable factors in any Grand Prix weekend. With his also notoriously crash-happy ex-team mate Romain Grosjean becoming more level-headed over time, I can’t help but to feel that F1s are losing one of the few exciting elements left in the sport currently dominated by three teams who are unable to really challenge each other (Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams).
But it’s also not unbelievable that Pastor would be ousted. Similarly (overly) audacious drivers have fallen out of the F1 spotlight either due to their own doing or due to others losing faith in them, drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jarno Trulli and Vitaly Petrov. Also, many have correctly speculated that Maldonado’s continued presence in the sport was simply due to his notably large sponsorship package (which if you think about it, is true of most drivers) and once that well dried up the man would probably be left hung out to dry. And that might be, but sticking around for five seasons shows that somebody must have had a lot of faith in Pastor.
And once again, while I do think the man should have apologized for flipping over Esteban Gutierrez back in 2014 – I really do hope that another Maldonator will rise to the occasion and make races more interesting. Max Verstappen has shown a lot of promise with his daring drives but there really are no other Wild Card drivers on the grid right now. So, farewell, Pastor. You were not always great but you were never boring.
Pastor Maldonado’s career in a nut-shell:
- Teams driven for: Williams (2011-2013), Lotus (2014-2015)
- Best finish: Victory in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix
- Best standing: 15th in 2012 season
- Worst standing: 19th in the 2011 season
- First season highlight: Scoring points in the Belgian GP, despite receiving a penalty for bumping into Lewis Hamilton on purpose
- Final season highlight: 7th place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix, fighting off Ricciardo, Kvyat & Nasr
- Nickname: The Maldonator