Pastor Maldonado: Does 'Crashtor' deserve his bad reputation?

By Jamie StricklandBBC Sport
Chinese GP: Pastor Maldonado pit problem 'caused by brakes'

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado endured an eventful Chinese Grand Prix, veering from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again.

After running in the points early on, the Venezuelan's day began to unravel when an apparent brake problem saw him overshoot the pit-lane entrance.

The time lost dropped him down the order and as he attempted to make up ground he lost control and span.

Jenson Button and Pastor Maldonado clash in China

There followed a superb duel with McLaren's Jenson Button over 13th place, with Maldonado getting the upper hand before the Briton missed his braking and took both men off at Turn One.

Button tweeted an apologyexternal-link to Maldonado "for getting a little over excited".

The trio of incidents gave way to a slew of criticism on social media, with Twitter users branding the 30-year-old Lotus driver "shocking", "awful" and the "gift that keeps on giving".

And let's not forget the websiteexternal-link that exists solely to inform the world whether Maldonado has suffered a crash on any given day.

Add into the mix the fact that he is one of the sport's wealthiest pay drivers - bringing a reported £30m a year to Lotus from the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA - and he is an easy target for ridicule.

But is Maldonado really all that bad?


Don't forget this is a man who won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix from pole position in a Williams car that was nowhere near the class of the field that year, all except for that one weekend.

Talk about taking your chance when it's presented.

The previous season, his rookie year, he stacked up very well in qualifying against Rubens Barrichello, an 11-time grand prix winner who made 322 starts, so his pace is not in question.

No, the problem with Maldonado is, and always has been, his tendency to crash.

In the grands prix that followed his Barcelona victory in 2012 he suffered a number of collisions - three penalties were collected in just one weekend at Spa - and nine races would pass before he finished in the points again.

If ever a season summed up the yin and yang of Pastor Maldonado, it was 2012.

Chief F1 writer Andrew Benson
"Pastor Maldonado is an enigma. The Venezuelan is a genuinely fast Formula 1 driver, and on his day can look world class. But that day comes rarely, and he is just as often prone to a red mist that makes him look like an incompetent amateur.
"Maldonado's been at this too long now for there to be any realistic expectations of him changing. It seems that, with him, the good and the bad are inextricably linked as a package."

Both sides of Maldonado's temperament were very much on display in China.

For the first 34 laps he was driving well at the head of the entertaining Lotus-Sauber-Toro Rosso battle, and therefore leading team-mate Romain Grosjean.

He ruined it by completely overcooking his entry to the pits and running wide, and then spinning while trying to make up time on his return to the track.

Maldonado was blameless for his collision with Button but had displayed excellent race craft during the battle that preceded it, going wheel-to-wheel with the 2009 world champion, driving with precision and bravery.

Of course, without the two earlier errors Maldonado would have been nowhere near the uncompetitive McLaren on the road.

Nevertheless, Maldonado's had been a hugely entertaining performance in what was otherwise a largely uneventful grand prix.

Surely there is something to be said for that in a sport so often accused of lacking personalities and excitement?

'Crashtor' Maldonado - a chequered career

Pastor Maldonado
Maldonado started in F1 in 2011 and suffered this minor off in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix
Pastor Maldonado
Maldonado was a classified finisher in 13 of 19 races in his debut season
Pastor Maldonado, Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen
Having previously only had a best finish of eighth, Maldonado stunned F1 by winning the 2012 Spanish GP for Williams, sharing the podium with world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen
Pastor Maldonado & Esteban Gutierrez
Maldonado (left) clashed twice with Esteban Gutierrez in 2014. This one was at Silverstone...
Pastor Maldonado & Esteban Gutierrez
... while this beauty happened in Bahrain. Gutierrez emerged unscathed
Pastor Maldonado
Toilet humour: Maldonado finished in the points just once in 2014
Pastor Maldonado
He was the innocent victim of a first-corner accident at the opening race of 2015 in Melbourne

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