Pastor Maldonado, the young Venezuelan in his second season in F1. He made his F1 debut, partnering Rubens Barrichello and had a dismal season as he and Barrichello failed to score points on so many occasions and were regularly battling the backmarkers of Lotus, Virgin and HRT. Not where the fans wanted to see the famous Williams team but that’s racing, One minute you’re on top, the next you’re not.
This season however, Barrichello is gone, Bruno Senna is in and it seems the team have made a remarkable recovery. Pastor Maldonado has so far outshone his teammate at every occasion, very nearly scoring points in Australia before crashing on the penultimate lap while battling Fernando Alonso. It was a similar story for Malaysia, where poor Maldonado suffered an engine failure with just two laps until the chequered flag. But he was just warming up and in Spain, he qualified 2nd, behind Lewis Hamilton, who was then disqualified for having insufficient fuel for a fuel sample, hence promoting Maldonado to pole position.
There was a great buzz in the paddock, William’s first pole position since Nico Hulkenberg’s superb lap in Brazil 2010. But everyone was trying to figure out how many places Maldonado would loose during the race, as nobody expected him to have enough pace to lead and win the race. But they were wrong.
Even though a feisty Fernando Alonso did his best to take a home win, he could not deny Maldonado that 1st win and the Venezuelan crossed the line to take Williams 1st win since Brazil 2004.
It was a great day but also a near tragic day. An hour after the win, Frank Williams was making a victory speech to the team when a fuel rig exploded in the garage, engulfing the garage in flames. Fire engines could not make their way down the packed pit lane and had to take a detour and so engineers from every team bolted to the Williams garage to help extinguish the flames. Luckily, Nobody was badly injured, but over 30 engineers were taken to the track’s medical centre with smoke inhalation, and one Williams engineer was sent to hospital with burns.
One of the hero’s of the day was Maldonado who ran back into the fireball to rescue his cousin who was in crutches and couldn’t make it out himself.
It seemed that Maldonado could do no wrong. He’d won a F1 race and then ran back into a burning garage to rescue his cousin. He showed extraordinary bravery and matureness when he did this, exactly what a good World Champion should have.
But, then in Monaco just 2 weeks later, Maldonado purposely drove into Sergio Perez during FP3. Damage from this crash, caused Sergio Perez to go straight on at the swimming pool chicane and slam into the barriers during Qualifying. Maldonado was handed a 10 place grid penalty for this incident. He claimed he had done no wrong and accidentally clipped Perez, but onboard replays showed that he had left his usual racing line and would have hit the barrier had he not crashed into Perez.
This was a disgraceful thing to do, and what makes it worse is it’s not the first time he has done it. If you remember back to Spa 2011, In Q2 Hamilton was told to push as hard as he could. As a result, on the final corner, Hamilton darted up the inside of Pastor, pushing him wide and ruining his lap time. Hamilton was not penalised for this, as it’s all part of racing, but Pastor caught up with Hamilton after the 1st corner and again swiped into the side of him. Lewis had a broken sidepod and Pastor a punctured rear wheel. In this case, he was given a 5 place grid penalty.
You don’t have to be a genius to realise that this sort of behaviour is extremely dangerous and highly unacceptable. But the question is, does he realise the danger he is putting the other drivers in?
If you go onto YouTube now and type in ‘F1 2011 Game’ You will no doubt find dozens of video’s of crashes in the highly successful video game by Codemasters. In this game, swiping, although not endorsed by Codemasters, is a common thing by players, as it is an effective way of keeping your lead! Even I sometimes swipe other cars when I play it. Obviously it is more than ok to do this as it is a video game and nobody will get hurt. In real life however, it is extremely dangerous and stupid.
Has Pastor made some sort of mental decision that this is acceptable behaviour? Does he not realise that he is putting the drivers, marshalls and spectators at risk when he acts in such a way.
Personally if Pastor should do such a thing again, I think he should be banned from racing. Even if only for a few races. This might sound harsh but F1 has a following of 600 million spectators per race, so these men are massive role models and should not be seen to crash into people just because they are in a bad mood.