Pastor Maldonado loses his F1 seat


In just two days’ time, Kevin Magnussen will be revealed by Renault as Jolyon Palmer’s new team mate and an all new driver lineup for the 2016 F1 season, according to Autosport. A contract has now been signed due to Pastor Maldonado’s sponsors PDVSA being in breach of their agreement with the Enstone team when they failed to make payments as agreed by last Friday.

Renault will reveal their 2016 car this Wednesday in Paris along with ART’s chief Frederic Vasseur who will become the team’s ‘racing director’.

Pastor Maldonado’s only hope of remaining in F1 this year now rests with the Manor team, who are yet to confirm either of their drivers for the coming season. In Barcelona back in 2012, the Venezuelan joined an exclusive list of just 105 drivers who have won a Formula One GP, though he has been dogged by a reputation for being reckless behind the wheel. The nickname ‘Crashtor’ stuck and there is a website dedicated to reporting the number of days since Maldonado’s last crash.

At the time of writing this was just over 64 days and refers to a non-fault incident Pastor was involved in during the final race of the 2015 season in Abu Dhabi.

Kevin Magnussen’s F1 career has been brought back from the brink of extinction having been unceremoniously jettisoned by McLaren by way of an email on his birthday last Autumn. Ron Dennis later explained the reasoning, “He knows himself and there is no question he knew that he did not perform as he should have done.”

The Dane is considered by many to be an impressive talent and is the last McLaren driver to take the chequered flag in a podium finishing position, back in March 2014. Partnering Kevin with Jolyon also has the advantage that Renault can benchmark the performance of Palmer given that Magnussen should be more consistent than Pastor Maldonado.

25 responses to “Pastor Maldonado loses his F1 seat

  1. It sounds mean to say it, but I think this is wonderful news, We may well get rid of a liability on the race track, although Manor may snap up Maldonado. Especially nice for Magnussen to be driving again, in what could be a half decent car.

    • “It sounds mean to say it…..” – but we were all thinking it, so don’t worry. This is wonderful news, hope KMag proves his doubters wrong.

  2. Not a a single teardrop. I am happy that Pastor and PDVSA are almost out of F1. I say almost because Manor could take him in could cost PDVSA less money. Manor will have MB power and WilliamsF1 technology that could be better than the Renault package for 2016. I hope Manor seat goes to a deserving driver and not to Maldonado.

  3. Should have been given a race ban on several occasions due to repeated dangerous driving, but oil money kept him in (and better drivers out) for 5 whole seasons! Will be a pleasure to watch Magnussen, instead of wondering whose race is going to be ruined by a driver who would never have been on the F1 grid if ability, and not bankability, had been the primary concern of his employers.

    • Totally agree, Dobzizzle. +1

      Ya know, I was taught many a year ago, as a young boy, that one doesn’t kick a man when he’s down. But I’ve come to realise that not all of my childhood lessons should be applied all of the time. Perhaps only some of them, some of the time.

      *Cue maniacal laughter*

      So with that in mind, I wish Maldonado – under the auspices of the mighty Venezuelan petro-dollar – the very best of luck in Formula Scalectrix, or Indy, or wherever his reasonably-fast-but-reckless buttocks may end up.

      I can’t help but feel sorry, in advance, for his future competitors… especially if he washes up in ‘Murica-land, flying/crashing around those ovals where drivers can still die under “normal” racing conditions without the assistance of any random clusterfuck-like situations vis-à-vis F1 Japan ’14.

      WEC LMP1 world champion, Mark Webber, recently summed up the situation best. Asked who was the ‘worst driver he’d ever shared a track with’, Webber answered: “Probably Maldonado. He’s out of his depth and just shouldn’t be there. He’s making up the numbers basically.”

      Well then… that includes ol’ Alex Yoong and Narain ‘the moving chicane’. Now that’s bad!

      Time for Pastor’s 40 million currency units to find their way to another series – which leads me to further validating my opinion on manufacturer eras and the increased quality of drivers. Another comment for another time.

      As for Manor, I can’t see how he could value moving further down the grid. We could speculate all we like about Manor maybe showing up Renault, but fuck, let’s get real. Not even going there. Let’s hope he values potentially winning in other series over making up F1 numbers so as to leave those seats to youngsters trying to get a break.

      Pastor’s better off finding a genuine top-flight drive elsewhere and seeing if he can win, and thus flipping the bird to F1 and its know-all armchair expert fans, like me, if he does indeed win. I’ve got a feeling though I won’t be forced into the indignity of eating these words.

      Eventually, someone will spill the beans about Spain ’12 too; fuel-fire and all.


      • Imagine Indycars with Pastor, Satonand Montoya?…the fireworks will be better than the 4th of July celebrations

      • I think it’s premature to expect Renault to show up Manor next year. Renault have left it very late to take over the Enstone team. Given Lotus money issues last year, I can’t imagine they managed to afford to develop a good new chassis for 2016.

        Lotus had no inseason developments last year. However in 2014 they designed a new chassis for the Mercedes engine they knew they would be using in 2015.

        Hence it’s easy to see why they were able to perform well last year, despite the money problems suffered during it. They had the benefits of the fastest and most reliable 2015 engine, in a decent chassis designed to get the best out of that power unit.

        Whatever chassis development Lotus did for this season, they could not have been certain which engine (if any) would be used by the team in 2016. So far all Renault have shown is a 2015 chassis with a preliminary colour scheme, which they conceded is not the colours they will use – according to reliable journalists attending the launch.

        Even if Lotus then Renault have developed a new chassis for 2016, there remains a question mark over the new 2016 Renault engine.

        By contrast to the questionable 2016 Renault car, Manor have had far more opportunity to make significant progress with the design of their 2016 car.

        Firstly Manor decided not to introduce a B-spec or new chassis in 2015, but race the modified 2014 car while devoting all those resources to building a solid chassis for the upcoming season.

        Furthermore whilst Lotus weren’t sure Renault F1 engines would exist in 2016, they didn’t even know if the team would be racing this year!

        By contrast Manor have sacrificed performance last year to build a better car for 2016. They also have been able to build their chassis around the Mercedes power unit and Williams gearbox etc – all of which is proven high performing technology, that’s not just fast but extremely reliable.

        Hence in the short term (ie just for this year) I would logically expect Manor to produce a decent car right from the 1st test. By contrast we don’t know if Renault will even have a new car for the start of the season, and we can’t be sure their 2016 engine will be any better than the last one.

        Renault have indicated the PU will be improved, partly via the input of Illien.

        However there is no guarantee they will have achieved this come Australia. Their PU performance may not improve significantly until they have inseason development. Plus there’s no guarantee their reliability will be improved at all this year, though I’d expect incremental improvements with the introduction of each of the 5 new power units the teams are allowed (due to the calendar increasing to 21 races).

        Manor should hit the ground running, with a much faster and more reliable car than last year. Their improvements during 2016 maybe limited to Mercedes engine upgrades, but I think they’ll have a good chance to score some points early on in the season – like Sauber managed to last year.

        I think Renault’s best chance at points will come towards the end of the season, assuming they bring good upgrades to what initially will be a compromised car. However Renault is still part owned by the French govt, and not necessarily in the same position to spend massive sums immediately, in the way Mercedes or Ferrari would be in their place. To keep the board happy, I suspect the Enstone team will be forced to accept poor performances this year – whilst spending their development budget on creating a much improved chassis and engine for 2017, which surely makes a lot of sense?

        • I forgot to add that whilst I think Manor’s car will have the greater performance potential in 2016 – that performance will probably not be realized.

          Money worries mean Manor will yet again choose drivers primarily based on the budget they bring, as opposed to driving ability.

          They’ve already suggested that Mercedes backed Pascal Werlein and Vandoorne don’tt have enough funding to get the drive. Hence it seems that instead of promising rookies, they are looking at lesser-talented prospects.

          Of the names mentioned as prospective Manor drivers, Alexander Rossi seems like the best choice. Coming in for 5 races last year, he was matching the more experienced Stevens and Mehri right away. I also think he would be useful for getting F1 much-needed penetration in North America.

          Other likely candidates either have failed to impress already driving in F1, or have failed to achieve in lower categories – despite having the budgets to get into the top teams in the respective championships they’ve competed in.

          Will Stevens was steady but didn’t show much signs of improvement, over the course of last season. I could see him continuing to drive consistently and safely, in the manner of someone like Max Chilton. Rio Haryanto has huge Indonesian oil money behind him in the lower formulae, but not much by way of wins on his CV.

          It seems a shame that folks like JEV are toiling away in simulators or FE, despite having impressed in his 3 years at Torro Rosso. He was regularly faster than Ricciardo over two years, and I expect he would have been much more consistent than Kvyat had he got the Red Bull seat in 2015.
          I suspect part of the reason Lowdon and Booth left Manor was the lack of ambition they anticipated, in Fitzpatrick’s choice of 2016 drivers.

          At the start of last season I wondered why Lowdon and Booth had worked so hard to get the team back up and running? Trundling around the back of the grid without even another rubbish team to race, all that effort seemed pointless. Every time I heard how Manor was run by “true racers” I thought it sounded not just clichéd, but daft!

          Wouldn’t true racers want to be competitive in whatever tournament they enter? Manor’s announcement of the technical partnerships with Mercedes and Williams appeared to offer that kind of potential. But the likely drivers show little promise in that respect.

          Eddie Jordan might not be a popular pundit, but his backmarker team cleverly signed drivers with potential. He not only scored a few wins this way, but was able to profit from selling promising youngsters under contract to bigger teams. It’s a shame this doesn’t appear to be a feasible business model in the modern F1 era.

          • “It seems a shame that folks like JEV are toiling away in simulators or FE, despite having impressed in his 3 years at Torro Rosso. He was regularly faster than Ricciardo over two years, and I expect he would have been much more consistent than Kvyat had he got the Red Bull seat in 2015.”

            Picking up on the above comment… some data.

            2012 – 15 (DR) / 5 (JEV)
            2013 – 15 (DR) / 4 (JEV)
            Total – 30 (DR) / 9 (JEV)

            In the “black and white” environment of F1 qualifying, there’s no discussion. DR was quicker to begin with and increased his relative pace over JEV during the two seasons. The avg. gap is harder to quantify given Q1, Q2 berths etc, however DR was always the big-ticket qualifier. Depending on how it’s measured, DR increased the avg. qualifying gap season-on-season.

            2012 – 18th 10pts (DR) / 17th 16pts (JEV)
            2013 – 14th 20pts (DR) / 15th 13pts (JEV)
            Total – WDC 1/2 30pts (DR) / WDC 1/2 29pts (JEV)

            JEV beat DR in 2012, and visa versa in 2013. It’s 1-1 in that sense. DR gained more pts overall over the two seasons. But at the back of the grid – as we all know – pts totals and WDC positions can be misleading, as Alonso vs. Button has shown. We should look deeper.

            2012 – 1 (DR) / 4 (JEV)
            2013 – 5 (DR) / 6 (JEV)
            Total – 6 (DR) / 10 (JEV)

            JEV suffered more non-finishes, either by mechanical failure or his own doing. This might suggest that JEV did an outstanding job over and above DR to 1) beat him in 2012, and 2) almost match the overall pts total.


            Placed higher when both finished:
            2012 – 8 (DR) / 7 (JEV)
            2013 – 6 (DR) / 3 (JEV)
            Total – 14 (DR) / 10 (JEV)

            Even though JEV finished higher than DR in the WDC in the 2012 season, variability of DNF’s can skew pts outcomes. DR finished higher than JEV when both cars saw the finish line in both seasons and thus, overall. Also, DR improved on his relative performance to JEV in the second season, as he did in qualifying.


            In the end, DR was the superior driver between the Toro Rosso pair in almost all parameters of performance measure, but particularly in qualifying. He also showed conscious improvement. His 2013 season was about learning to start better, and race stronger, in order to capitalise on his already outstanding qualifying positions – something he did, and thus it reflected in the 2013 pts standings.

            2014, DR against Vettel validated Red Bull’s choice as DR’s race craft was no longer in question and he maintained that qualifying pace.

            Your two comments were interesting and provided much food for thought. However there are a few foundational statements that are used to support your overall argument which I’d normally discuss, but, I’d be here forever, and more than that, it falls into speculation anyway. What I will say though, regarding Renault vs. Manor, is that time will tell. The season’s about to start and that will be the ultimate judge. Huzzah!

  4. Maldonado is one of the reasons why fans lament modern F1 so much. Not to mention the corruption of the Venezuelan govt with whom his PDVSA sponsorship is linked, Maldonado will sadly remembered as one of the sport’s eye sores. K-Mag might have had a so-so first season with McLaren, but Jenson Button himself struggled in his early days at Williams and Renault. Jenson got beat badly by Ralf and Fisichella, but then got the better of Trulli and Villeneuve. Considering Jolyon Palmer spent 4 years in GP2 (with the first three achieving average results), I expect K-Mag to really nail his place as a F1’s brightest stars.

  5. Maybe we are missing something and the Venezuelans have been negotiating an exit so they can buy a manor drive as a better proposition. On the other hand, in the judge’s photo, poor Pastor looks as if he has just heard some bad news!

  6. “is the last McLaren driver to take the chequered flag in a podium finishing position”

    Arguably isn’t that Button since he finished 3rd after Magnussen finished 2nd?

    • Magnussen received the checkered flag for 3rd and Button was 4th. But they were both later promoted one place after Ricciardo’s fuel flow rate disqualification.

  7. Maldo was never fully backed as a driver. Being viewed as a cash cow solely can kill the growth of any driver. It would be nice to see Manor pick up Maldonado and actually find out what’s inside him (perhaps the breach of agreement was a way to get Maldonado out and clear for Manor.).

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