William’s technical director, Mike Coughlan, believes that Pastor Maldonado is a different man. The Venezuelan suffered two rough seasons involving various infamous incidents such as crashing into Hamilton in Spa 2011 and Perez in Monaco 2012.
These incidents blighted the 28-year-old’s maiden win where he trumped Spaniard Fernando Alonso at home in Catalunya. In fact, it was merely a week later that Maldonado purposefully drove into Sergio Perez’s Sauber, causing himself to crash mere seconds later. Perez lost steering through the swimming pool chicane in the Qualifying session later on in what is believed to be unseen damage from the crash with Maldonado.
The Venezuelan came into much criticism in 2012 but had notably improved by the end of the season when he impressed at such races as the Austin and Abu Dhabi rounds although he did crash out of the hectic Brazilian Grand Prix which served as a curtain closer.
In an interview with Autosport, Coughlan insisted that the new Maldonado was here to stay, “If you take the last quarter of the season, he seemed to realise what was involved to be a top class racing driver. He looked at himself and there were no penalties in the last third of the season and he did some great races.”
“I still say Abu Dhabi was a better race for Pastor than Barcelona. Austin was another one; he raced very strongly towards the end.”
Maldonado is set to partner Finnish rookie Valterri Bottas this season in what many speculate could be a very strong partnership, providing the FW35 can keep up with the front.