Pastor Maldonado would have us believe that he is not just a pay driver, but racing in Formula One on merit. “I have a sponsor, this is clear,” the Venezuelan explained to SKY F1. “I have a sponsor – which is not my sponsor, it is a team sponsor – Fernando has the same with Santander, maybe Blackberry for Hamilton.”
Yet Maldonado does not have the talent of his ex-team mate Valtteri Bottas and neither of his current partner Romain Grosjean. He has scored just 8 times in 80 GP races in his four and a bit seasons in Formula One.
Despite this we saw Jolyon Palmer replace Romain Grosjean in FP1 at both the Chinese and Bahrain GP weekends. “This is not ideal for the racing drivers as we lose an hour and a half of practice and we are not delighted to be giving up our ‘baby’,” commented Grosjean.
“But we have an economic reality today that means F1 is not easy. And the teams need to look at every possible solution to finance the budgets.”
Of course Pastor is not just known for being a pay driver, but for many on track indiscretions which have earned him the nick names, “Crash Kid”, Crashtor” and most recently following him rear ending Massa in Bahrain – “Mashtor”.
Yet Maldonado thinks his getting an underserved Bad Rep.
“So many drivers are doing something even worse than me,” Maldonado told Sky’s Mike Wise. “Don’t you think that’s unfair? How can you stop it or change it?” implores Pastor. Maldonado has now collected 8 of the 12 steward penalty points he needs to be haded down a one race ban.
Yet the amusement at Pastor’s expense continues unabated. There is a website which counts the number of days since Maldonado’s last crash. When the count is greater than 1, it concludes “the world is safe for another day”.
Crashtor is insisting that his 2015 contract means he cannot be asked to step aside for Jolyon Palmer in FP1, and so Romain Grosjean will be taking the hit each time Palmer gets behind the wheel.
Ironically this demonstrates as clearly as eggs are eggs – that Pastor is paying HUGE $$$ for his ride – to command such a clause – and the team agreed to it, daring not to upset him.