The Golden Crashtors

The sun has set on Pastor Maldonado’s chequered Formula One career. Many have been calling for his sacking for quite a while, but now it’s finally happened will we miss him? To help you make your decision, cast your minds back to his most infamous moments, which I’m going to call “The Golden Crashtors”.

1) Flipping crazy…

One of Pastor’s more spectacular moments came at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix. As he charged out of the pit lane on cold tyres he saw Esteban Gutierrez sail past on the racing line. Instead of slotting in behind, he decided to dive for a space that was never going to exist. Gutierrez, bless him, didn’t even see him coming. Pastor’s Lotus speared into the Sauber’s back wheel with pinpoint accuracy, at just the right angle to induce a dainty flip. Maldonado barely took a second look and carried on his merry way, earning multiple penalties in the process.

gutierrez flip

“Whoa, what was that?!”… Esteban, You’ve just been Maldonadoed.

2) Road rage…

Pastor was well on the way to the dark side in 2011, but at Spa his transformation was complete when he allowed his anger towards Lewis Hamilton to flow through him.

During qualifying, Maldonado was trying to leave himself enough space to the car infront get a good lap in, while Hamilton was desperate to finish his own flying lap. Hamilton flew past coming through the final chicane, nearly taking the Sith Lord with him.

spa11

Feeling somewhat aggrieved by this disturbance in the force, Darth Maldonado and Obi-Ham Kenobi showed their displeasure towards each other – first Hamilton flicked his car, then Maldonado swerved violently across the front of the McLaren, pushing him on to the grass and breaking his front wing.

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” – Seems to have come true, for Hamilton at least.

 

3) Hungary for more penalties…

Pastor surpassed even his own lofty standards at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2015 earning himself a trio of separate driving standards penalties in the space of one race.

The first was a drive-through penalty for nerfing Sergio Perez. Pastor had seemingly forgotten that when racing against someone you can’t occupy the same physical space on the circuit. When that happens, sparks fly…

hung15maldo

The second was a second drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane… Whilst serving his first drive-through penalty! #facepalm

The third penalty was dished out for another outstandingly illegal overtaking move. He must have thought he was a driving God when he sailed past cars going much slower than he was… Until he realised the safety car had been deployed.

 

4) 2 for 1 Spa deal…

He seems to seek out trouble in Belgium, but his crowning glory came in 2013 when driving for Williams. A sense of dreadful inevitability descended when a group of five cars on different strategies bunched up, with Maldonado at the front. Gutierrez made a lunge into the final chicane, pushing Pastor wide. Adrian Sutil in the Force India also saw an opportunity, but seemingly forgot who he was racing against.

Pastor was not going to take this lying down and tried to force his way back to the racing line, just as Adrian aggressively squeezed him for space. Maldonado’s front wing went flying, a disaster for the Venezuelan.

spa13maldo

He saw the entrance to the pit lane fast approaching on the outside, so made a dive towards it. Unfortunately for him there was one thing in the way… Paul di Resta’s car, also a Force India. No matter, he thought, plough on! The resulting impact threw di Resta’s car up in the air, with the rear wheel attached only by it’s tethers.

Pastor never did make the pit lane.

5) Pastor’s Redemption…

There is one saving grace in his long, relatively pointless career, one beacon of hope that there is a talented racer and genuinely good person hidden beneath the rather calamitous exterior.

The start of the 2012 season was an enigma, seemingly nobody could predict who would win the Pirelli tyre sweet-spot lottery from race to race. Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix was quite a shock, Lewis Hamilton took pole position but was disqualified on a technicality, leaving our adopted hero to inherit the prime position.

Local deity Fernando Alonso started second and actually out-dragged Pastor to the first corner. Most people thought that was game over for Pastor, surely the Ferrari would just prance off into the distance? But against all expectations he kept the Spaniard within striking distance and come the second round of pitstops he executed the undercut to perfection and with the help of his faster pitcrew he retook the lead.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Spanish Grand Prix - Race Day - Barcelona, Spain

It wasn’t an easy cruise to the flag from there – against mounting pressure from Alonso and a fast catching Raikkonen he took a superb victory, his one and only and the first every for his country.

That was incredible, but what came ninety minutes later was the real story of the day for me. As the teams were packing up, a fuel leak in the Williams garage caught fire sending flames and huge plumes of black smoke into the sky. Personnel from all teams rushed to extinguish the blaze. Bursting out from the smoke, a man was seen carrying a small boy on his back away from the inferno to safety. It was Pastor, rescuing his 12 year old cousin who could not run away by himself as he had a broken foot. That day was truly one of Pastor’s finest as both a sportsman and as a human being.

maldospain2

I never thought I’d come to this conclusion, but I’m actually going to miss Pastor. Whether or not you agree with heavily sponsored seats, his ethical standards or his aggressive driving style, Formula One will be a much less interesting spectacle without the true genius of Crashtor.

 

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18 responses to “The Golden Crashtors

  1. I’m also going to miss him. I don’t get all the “Crashtor” hate. By hating Pastor you’re hating one of the most unpredictable elements of F1 in the recent years. I really wish the sport had more “Crashtors”, guys who would ruin someone else’s race because they attempted a dangerous move. You know, making the sport exciting in whatever way. I know that if you’re a person that wants to see Driver X or Team Z to win all the races in a season, or maybe a driver/manager/mechanic for a competing team, you probably want the races to be as safe and predictable as possible, to minimize risk, however, from a spectator point of view, predictable = boring snoozefest. Predictable and safe (and maybe also eco and green) are the worst words that can be associated with a sport or show like Formula 1 and yet, in the recent years, you can’t say much else about it…

    • He was at a minimum exciting to watch. If they put him in the Mercedes, he would be either first or second in the championship.

    • I totally agree, That was number 6, along with the crash at Melbourne chasing down Alonso. I loved the sense of inevitability I got on both occasions that a shower of carbon fibre was imminent.

      Re Valencia: If Lewis had let him past he would have had a reasonable points haul, but I’m so glad he didn’t as not going for that defence would make him a different, less exciting driver. Also, it shows the annoyance of modern “safe” circuits – Pastor came back from all 4 wheels off track to spear Hammy – that would not happen if there was a slippery surface (eg grass). Now I know it’s street circuit so that’s not realistic, but it’s happening elsewhere (eg Hungary, or the parabolic a) that is slowly neutering classic F1 tracks.

      Rant over!

  2. may I suggest some alternate captions?
    1) “Look mom. No hands!”
    2) “F1?, no, F.U.!”
    3) “Oops. I set the car mode to Baja”
    4) “My turn signal was on, I swear!”
    Yes, the checkered flag on a checkered F1 career, I still liked him … maybe I teased him too much … but I still like him. Good thing he didn’t get sponsored for Moto GP. Maybe WRC ? Less cars to take out … Oh No .. save the trees.

  3. Pastor always seemed to be cast as villain from the moment he hit F1. Even as he won GP2 the rumour campaign against him was popping up on coverage. Plenty of drivers have driven as poorly at times (remember Lewis’ year of driving dangerously?) but Maldonado never seemed able to overcome the twin strikes of buying his way out of being banned for life and then having the good luck and connections enough to line up an enormous sponsorship that guaranteed him a seat at the smallest and most exclusive table in motorsports. It virtually guaranteed that the press would be against him from the start and it is hard indeed to get a clear picture of his career so kudo’s for making the effort.

  4. My personal favourite has to be the ‘Gutierrez
    Flip’. I have never seen an actually real photograph look more Photoshopped than that one at the top – I can’t look at it without imagining Esteban giving Pastor the harshest daggers/evil-eyes that he can muster… whilst upside down! In a Formula 1 car! In actual racing conditions! Simply…Wow!

  5. let`s not forget ladies and gents that pastor is a) latin american b)by the idiotic mindnumbing press he was the son of the evil dictator chavez c) a truly gentleman that should have punched people in the head and did not. i`m always amused by the morons that say this or that bought a seat, man do they watch another category? because i watch f1 from a looong time and almost everyone in the modern era bought a seat to race in one point or other of his racing life. so stop being bigots about it ah? there is enough bullshit flying around for you to keep banging this guy. for you the writer, be a man and say this in his face. anyone with the load on the shoulders this poor lad ahd would make mistake after mistake.

  6. Pastor will be hugely missed by me. I never think about him as crashtor – he is One Devil of The Racer! More lads in F1 like Him, RIC, SAI, PER, VES !!! Otherwise what’s the point if everybody goes by fine lines never making opportunistic moves – like a kindergarden walking by cord

    • Agreed. I shook his hand and had a brief chat with him in Montreal. Super nice guy…. he was with Williams then. My niece still calls him “Pasta” … ” ’cause even not so good is still pretty good.”

      • I’m sorry, but is he in F1 to be a ‘nice guy’ or there to do a job and deliver for his employers?

        I mean every single drive in the sport are all ‘nice guys’, but we don’t watch the sport to someone continually making the same ridiculous moves and errors practically every weekend.

        At the end of the day it comes down to performance and he wasn’t performing as he, granted he was in a difficult situation at Lotus, but so was Grosjean and he was still able to at least have the odd race or two where he did a great job for the team.

  7. I will miss Pastor. I think he was fun, and more talented than he got credit for. Last year most of his retirements were mechanicals, he didn’t crash into people nearly as much.

    I loved seeing him in interviews, seeing his face slightly confused, trying to figure out who was taking the piss. He must have developed enormous self-control, we know he’s hot blooded but he never lost his composure like we see Alonso and others do regularly.

    I think Pastor was teased for being different, having an accent, a funny name, a pock-marked face. The British press can be pretty awful to those they dislike. Yet Maldonado kept his head high, stayed true to himself and didn’t pander to them. I admired that honesty and I’m happy he’s leaving with a hard-earned victory, at least it’s a big FU to all the haters. Like Crofty, who would have trouble walking one lap distance but doesn’t hesitate to pull people down with his microphone.

    Wow what a cathartic way to start Sunday!

  8. Crashtor’s career highlight reel…..
    Escapes lifetime ban for running over a track marshal;
    Wreaks utter havoc over every possible racing series he is affiliated with;
    Enters F1 and continues run of terror;
    Celestial objects magically align on 13/5/2012 and he mystically grabs his 1st and only F1 podium and win;
    “Racing GODS” are disgusted and perplexed by such events they try to burn the circuit down and erase the memory;
    Allowed to continue reign of horror;
    Golden hand finally becomes severed and continues with disillusionment that at 30 someone at top level of racing will continue to risk his services…. 😅😅

    • Those damned planets aligning as soon as your back’s turned… they’ve got an awful lot to answer for…

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