On Monday, The Venezuelan star of every crash compilation video of the last five years, Pastor Maldonado, announced that he was leaving Formula 1, after his sponsors failed to pay Renault in time; or probably as the real case was, that the team realised they suddenly had enough money to get a driver who could manage to go round a corner without crashing.
Despite the fact I personally frequently lamented Maldonado; as did most of the fan base of the sport, I do have some sadness about him leaving the sport. It’s probably like if the Far-Right were to be eliminated completely from Britain; the country probably would be better off for it overall but it would eliminate a lot of comic relief from life. Although its undeniable that Pastor Maldonado was not good enough and was often an embarrassment to the sport, it will be hard not to miss his idiocy of spinning off frequently, taking people off next to every race, or his continuing denial of blame of any incidence.
Of course, Maldonado was not a useless as we all like to suggest. He did of course win the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix brilliantly and had some impressive qualifying performances that year. The Spanish Grand Prix in particular was a fantastic moment in modern Formula 1 and is one of the results where the audience had to pinch themselves to check if it had actually happened.
But Maldonado won’t be remembered for that, He will be remembered for his often brainless driving, rookie mistakes, and constant crashing. Maldonado first came to fame when he deliberately drove into Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren at the end of qualifying of the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, rumored to be a revenge incident towards a 50/50 collision in Monaco earlier that year. He and Hamilton collided again in the 2012 European Grand Prix, again being Maldonado to blame. Hamilton was not the only driver to fall victim to Maldonado. Over the years Bottas, Grosjean (multiple times), Webber, Vergne, Gutierrez, De La Rosa, Glock, Sutil and di Resta (where Maldonado managed to hit both separately at the same corner), Sutil (again X2), di Resta (again), der Garde, Bianchi, Ericsson, Massa, Button and Perez (multiple times) had all been victims of Maldonado’s erratic driving at some point.
Perez in particular had been openly critical of Maldonado on numerous occasions. Many could ask if this is any different to early career Grosjean or Perez, or even younger versions of Vettel and Hamilton. The difference is Maldonado’s collisions had been more frequent, have not been stamped out as he’s gained experience, and in many cases, far more stupid. For example Maldonado’s collision with Sutil and di Resta in the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix was an incident of colossus stupidity.
But the fact is all these incidents were talking points, and created excitement within a sport which has been in crisis for the three years. Even Maldonado on his own is fun to watch, if it being his lazily -driving onto grass and spinning- moment in the practice to the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix to him managing to wreck his car on the way into the pitlane of both the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix and 2014 Chinese Grand Prix; or the time he decided to cut out the middle man and miss the pitlane all together in the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix; or even managing to get three penalties in one race at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Maldonado in honesty comes off a bit rubbish, give and take the odd race where he puts in a passable performance. But, the guys brand of rubbish offers so much to Formula One’s entertainment value, its shame to actually see him go. I leave you with a video I found on Youtube which documents everything to love about this now ex-driver.
-Credit to Boris Sljvic 2