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.
“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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.