2015 F1 driver rankings #21: Pastor Maldonado

2015 F1 season review

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The F1 Fanatic 2015 Driver Rankings begin today. Each article will focus on an individual driver and features a race-by-race profile of their entire season. The next two parts of the rankings will appear later today. Only drivers who started at least five races are included.

Pastor Maldonado

Beat team mate in qualifying2/19
Beat team mate in race2/7
Races finished10/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate160/651
Pastor Maldonado 2015 form guide

Pastor Maldonado’s status as a latter-day Andrea de Cesaris has been cemented by the emergence of a website dedicated solely to informing the world whether or not he has crashed today.

His 2015 campaign was not strewn with quite as much wreckage as previous efforts, but there were still far too many mistakes and not enough strong performances to make them anywhere near excusable.

There were two brief periods when Maldonado hit a decent vein of form. In Monaco – dependably one of his strongest venues – his out-qualified team mate Romain Grosjean only to be struck down with a technical problem in the race. He backed that up with solid points scores in Canada and Austria – the latter punctuated by a spectacular pass on Max Verstappen. Later in the year he strung together a trio of points hauls in Japan, Russia and the USA.

The rest of his season was riddled with unnecessary mistakes. At times they were born of being too uncompromising with rivals: his lap one squeeze on Felipe Nasr in Australia left him in the wall on a day when big points were in the offing. He did the same with his team mate in Spain which left Maldonado with a damaged rear wing and eventually forced him out.

But more often he was simply careless and the errors simply piled up: in Hungary he wandered into Sergio Perez then collected penalties for pit lane speeding and overtaking during a Safety Car period. He locked up on his way into the pits in China, then had an unforced spin later on. Small wonder he made more trips to the stewards than any other driver.

He was utterly outclassed by Grosjean, suffering a 17-2 qualifying defeat which was greater than that of any driver, and usually took the chequered flag after his team mate as well.

Life in the midfield inevitably leads to a few bumps and retirements. Maldonado wasn’t to blame for every incident he was involved – notably in China, Britain and Italy. But in a 19-round championship he only managed half-a-dozen adequate performances – that’s simply not good enough.

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View race-by-race notes on Pastor Maldonado

Australia – Had he given Nasr’s Sauber a little more room in turn two, a top five finish would have been possible. “It’s disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race,” he said.

Malaysia – Was near the end of the queue in Q2 and missed the cut for the top ten. In the race he suffered and puncture at the start and was penalised for driving too quickly during the Safety Car period, then retired with a brake problem while running behind Grosjean.

China – Missed out on Q3 by three hundredths of a second. Blamed a braking issue for his pit entry lock-up, had no one else to blame for his spin a few laps later but was blameless in the collision with Button that forced him into retirement for the third consecutive race.

Bahrain – In Q1 his front brakes were continuing to apply pressure even when he wasn’t using them, causing a loss of a straightline speed, meaning he was unable to progress to the next stage. He also picked up a five-second penalty for failing to take his place properly on the grid. But with plenty of soft tyres he was able to make rapid progress on a three-stop strategy and probably would have finished in the points had his engine not stopped during his final pit stop.

Spain – Gearbox trouble limited his running in first practice. Having qualified behind Grosjean he passed his team mate early in the race but picked up rear wing damage as he did, which cost him time at his first pit stop as the broken end plate was removed. This put him back down the order, and the team later decided the limited potential for points scoring was not worth the risk of incurring further damage.

Monaco – Produced his best qualifying performance so far at a track where he usually excels, but retired early on with a braking problem.

Canada – Backed up Grosjean in sixth despite a spin early in qualifying. Having lost a place to Hulkenberg at the start he pitted early and ran the longest stint of any driver – 53 laps on the soft rubber – to take his first points of the season for seventh.

Austria – Demonstrated Lotus’s potential with the fourth-fastest time on Friday, ahead of Hamilton, but blamed traffic for failing to accompany his team mate into Q3. He seemed to be distracted by Ericsson’s jump start and lost two places on the first lap, but recovered to finish seventh. On his way he jumped past Perez in the pits, and held on to some increasingly lurid slides as he found a way past Verstappen.

Britain – Like Grosjean, Maldonado also dropped out in Q2, and was also eliminated in the first-lap collision at Village.

Hungary – Lotus missed the beginning of final practice as Pirelli had withheld their tyres due to a payment dispute. The timing of the red flag in Q2 was unfortunate for him, though it was for several other drivers too, and he ended up missing the cut. His race was a depressing litany of mistakes which a driver in his fifth year of F1 should not be making: contact with Perez, speeding in the pits and overtaking under the Safety Car. And yet somehow his penalty points total only increased by two.

Belgium – Crashed on the approach to Pouhon during practice, much as he did last year, but made it into Q3 and eventually lined up seventh. However two laps into the race his car shut down – the team suspect it was triggered when Maldonado hit a kerb too hard.

Italy – Both Lotus drivers were out early on as Maldonado also sustained damage on the first lap.

Singapore – Like Raikkonen at Ferrari, Maldonado couldn’t find the grip his team mate had on the softest rubber, but with Lotus further down the pecking order the difference between the two meant Maldonado was out in Q1 while Grosjean reached the final round. Like Grosjean he struggled with his long stint on soft tyres, unlike Grosjean he found it necessary to risk collisions as faster cars came past him, with the usual result.

Japan – Didn’t make it into Q3 but seemed happier with his tyres at the end of the race than Grosjean. Followed his team mate home for useful points.

Russia – Was one of only three drivers to run the alternative strategy to the end, but despite leaving his tyre change until lap 31 he felt his car performed poorly on super-softs at the end of the race. He hung on for seventh place.

United States – Stayed out of trouble on his way to eighth place but was puzzled as to why he didn’t have better pace.

Mexico – Lined up behind Grosjean as usual and kept it clean in the race – despite a brief off at turn 12 – and finished right on his team mate’s tail, albeit aided somewhat by the Safety Car.

Brazil – Couldn’t get the back of the car to behaved as he wishes, made several set-up changes, and ended up failing to get out of Q1. He gambled on starting the race on medium tyres but was given a five-second penalty after carelessly hitting Ericsson. He lost places to two of his rivals in the closing stages before being promoted to the final point when Massa was disqualified.

Abu Dhabi – Qualified 13th but was taken out by Alonso at the first corner.

Over to you

Most of the time he was nowhere near his team mate. Must up his game a lot as he’s supposed to be Renault’s leading driver next season.

What’s your verdict on Pastor Maldonado’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #21: Pastor Maldonado”

  1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    8th December 2015, 12:30

    Pastor is the best possible example of how bad a paid driver can be. His lack of admitting his mistakes and learning from them makes him a wasted seat. I really hope Renault finds a way to stop the joke he has become.

    1. I would say he’s giving pay drivers a bad name and other pay drivers must really hate him.

    2. @omarr-pepper there’s a vast difference between “paid driver” and “pay driver”. I think you mean the latter ;)

      1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
        8th December 2015, 15:02

        @mattds Yep. I guess I Maldonado’ed my keyboard :D

        1. “Maldonado’ed” I really hope this is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year next year.

    3. @omarr-pepper He didn’t get run over by the medical car though.

      And of course there’s then Yuji Ide.

      1. aaa the memories of Ide, we saw him and poff like magic he was gone

      2. You mean Taki Inoue?

        1. Taki Inoue was the driver hit by the medical car (as well as a Renault Clio course car in Monaco the very same year) but Yuji Ide was a completely different person. He raced for super Aguri in 2007 I think it was, he was rubbish.

          1. It was worse than that. Ide actually was stripped of his FIA superlicense after he crashed into Christian Albers at Imola in 06.

  2. Maldonado was not the worst driver of 2015. Period.

    Pastor finally was consistent, and even though he got completelly beaten in qualifying by Grosjean, in race he was always therre with him.

    If you removed Grosjean’s podium, you’ll see that Pastor was only 9 points behind Romain. And seeing that in most races he somehow got screwed over by beeing unlucky (Australia, Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Spain, Monaco)… He could’ve scored as many points as Grosjean this year. Belgium he was running ahead of Grosjean at the time of his retirement, in Spain he was running in the points until damage (caused by his team-mate…) forced him to retire. Monaco he couldn’t even last 5 laps before his brakes got cooked, but he was running 8th at the time! If we count he could’ve finished 4th or 5th at Belgium, 7th at Spain, 8th at Monaco, he would’ve finished 2 points behind Grosjean. It’s Pastor’s best season to date. But well, we got to put him down… Cause he’s Pastor, and it’s funny to make fun of him. Wait, not.

    1. >If you removed Grosjean’s podium
      >If we count he could’ve finished 4th or 5th at Belgium, 7th at Spain, 8th at Monaco

      Yeah, sure. If we totally re-arrange every drivers’ points and give them whatever we feel like then Maldonado could’ve won the title.

      1. Yeah, sure. If we totally re-arrange every drivers’ points and give them whatever we feel like then Maldonado could’ve won the title.

        That is not what is being done here. Grosjean fluked a podium (if you don’t agree, then think about the only Williams victory in a decade and if it as a fluke win or not) and for the rest of his comment, Maldonado got terribly unlucky. Anyway, the point being made is that the gap in points tells a different story from what were the real differences in the track.

        1. Alas, if you take that approach with Maldonado, you would have to do the same with Grosjean’s results, and look at where he had been unlucky to draw the comparison. It’s not fair to reassess one part of the comparison, but not the other.

          I’ll admit I’ve not looked back at Grosjean’s season, but it is probably a fair guess to say that if you were to take the same approach to Grosjean’s results the gap would be larger than the 2 points in the OP.

          1. Well, then, let’s see…

            First retirement in Australia was unlucky and he was only a place ahead of Maldonado (also retired in the first lap) so its pretty even in there.
            In Austria he spent most of the time in 11th fighting with Kvyat (12th), Ricciardo (10th) and Nasr (11th) so it is debatable if he would have grabbed a point or not. Maldonado finished 7th with a different strategy having already a better position than Grosjean when the latter retired even if he was still to pit. In Britain he collided with Maldonado after being hit by Ricciardo so no real fault on both of them. In Italy he clashed with Marcus Ericsson and in Singapore he lost a point due to mechanical failure. In Russia he lost the car and crashed heavily and finally in US, it was Grosjean’s big DNF cut opportunity where maybe a 7th, ahead of Button and behind Sainz were on the cards. That would’ve made a grand total of 10 points ahead of Maldonado. So the initial idea that Maldonado got the worst of luck still retains and in the end the points table don’t tell the whole story. As a reminder, no one here is contesting that Gorsjean is better than Maldonado, only that Maldonado was set back by luck and that his season wasn’t as deserving of being labelled worst of 2015 as it seems at first glance.

  3. I do not think our friend will be on the gird in a Renault in 2017. Surely his money will provide him a seat elsewhere which only once more shows the poor state Formula One is in. May we one day have a sport where men without talent yet with deep pockets don’t come out on top.

    1. We will be (unfortunately). Lotus used a part of 2016 PDVSA money in 2015 campaign. Of course they can kick him out but it will be really expensive. I think the bet for Renault if to use him during 2016 and sack him in the middle of the season (if he cant deliver points).
      On the other hand keep in mind the political situation of Venezuela. Basically since the goverment lost the elections, the oposition will cut all expenses and obvioulsy PDVSA sponsorship in Formula 1 will be a victim of that.

  4. To be honest, Maldonado’s had a lot of bad luck this year. Taken out in Australia, puncture in Malaysia, rear wing in Spain, brake problems in Monaco, PU shutdown in Belgium, and taken out by Alonso in Abu Dhabi.

    He was much closer to Grosjean on Sunday this year than the points suggest. In qualifying he was dominated, but not in the races.

    1. Maldonado definitely had a number of surprising positions (especially relative to Grosjean) during races. In the middle of the season up until his personal points streak record, I was starting to think he had a not so terrible season. But at the end of the day, he scored less points and frankly his reputation will stain the perception people have of him.

      That being said, this was his 5th season in F1 and he has not shown an incredible development as a driver. If he’s going to be in F1 much longer, he needs results, or hope that a midfield team needs his money.

    2. @kingshark One of the points of the article was that he was not taken out in either Australia or Spain – in both cases, it was he who had the opportunity to leave enough space for a driver next to him and he squeezed his opponents both times.

      He was mor unlucky than usual, yes, but he still committed his more than fair share of driver errors.

      That said, simply for probably getting more points finishes this season than in his whole career and for his inherent speed which is admittedly there, I would not rank him last – he had worse seasons than this where he wasn’t last here.

      1. @atticus-2 I don’t fully remember Spain but I remember Australia vividly. He couldn’t help being tagged there – 100% blameless.

        1. @mattds He simply turned in on Nasr.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF9bsNkMP_E (from around 1:10)

          As I’ve said he had room to avoid the accident, Nasr or Raikkonen did not.

          Granted, it was three-wide and even greater drivers than him misjudged such situations this season alone (Perez in Suzuka or Vettel and Alonso in Abu Dhabi, at the start in both cases). So, in the end, it leans a bit towards a racing incident, given how hard the speed differentials were to judge as well, but if someone should take the higher share of the blame, it’s Pastor.

      2. What happened in Spain? I’ll tell u. At the end of the main straight, Grosjean (who was 2 places ahead of Maldonado) missed the braking point at Turn 1. He “eats” Turn 2, and join the track into the “racing line” just ahead of Maldonado, at a much lower speed. Maldonado, who has the momentum and the speed, has to dodge Grosjean by leaving the racing line, just at the entrance of one of the fastest and accelerating turns in all F1 calendar. When Maldonado tried to return to racing line, Grosjean already gained speed, and the contact occurred when Maldonado “squeezed” Grosjean, despite being ahead. Then, mechanics had to remove the rear wing endplate from Maldonado’s car, and he drove a good part of the race with a rear wing that might have jumped from the car at anytime. He had to retire when he was 7th, by the risk of being black-flagged.

        Maldonado could have avoided the incident by taking Turn 3 at the left? Yes, but Grosjean could avoided it too by: 1- not joining the track directly to the racing line, when he had all the left part for himself; 2- Not accelerate too much/brake a little to let the driver who overtook (Maldonado) go through. After all, it was Grosjean mistake in first place.

        Conclusion??: Maldonado’s fault. He was too uncompromised with his rival. He is the one who has to lift the throttle and/or step aside, despite being in the racing line at racing speed. Australia is more a “race incident” event, but I can’t see how should take the higher share of the blame in a entanglement between Raikkonen and Nasr, when he was way ahead. Same to Malaysia when Bottas punctured his rear tire, or Button missed the breaking point in China (acknowledged by Jenson himself), or Ricciardo hitting Grosjean hitting Maldonado in Britain, or whatever happened in 1st turn at Monza, or the most recent with Alonso in Abu Dhabi. All racing incidents, in races where he would scored points. Bad luck? maybe, but somehow he is the first suspect.

        Contacts always happen. To all drivers. But when Maldonado is involved, there is an easy explanation. In this year, I found 2 contacts where he directly responsible: to Perez in Hungary and to Ericsson in Brazil. Any other?

        1. He “eats” Turn 2

          One could say he “ate” Pastor.

  5. I am not exactly sure whether that is fair on de Crasheris… err… de Cesaris. Yes, he had that nickname and the incidents that earned him being called that way, but I don´t recall him ever being that far of his teammates pace.

    1. De Cesaris had more mechanical failures than crash DNFs. But Andrea “De Brokengearboxaris” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. If anything, I like Andrew Philips’ analogy of Maldonado being the new Vittorio Brambilla.

  6. If Pastor could find it in him to admit to his mistakes and make the effort to learn from them (like his smiley erstwhile team mate) he could be a seriously competitive F1 driver. But he seems completely incapable of doing those two things, so I doubt he will ever fulfil his potential.

    1. It is pretty frustrating to see at times, isn’t it @geemac. I guess the voting public in Venezuela will end his career in the not too distant future tough. Lets hope he can redeem himself by racing without crashing after he rethinks his approach after that.

  7. I am not at all surprised that Crashdonado is in last place. Romain Grosjean totally outclassed him in this season and last season, and Maldonado has only managed to beat one of his teammates in his five-year career. Sure, he’s been unlucky, but he has also made a lot of stupid errors and has not shown anything that would make him worthy of a place in Formula 1. 17-2 in qualifying in favour of Grosjean is a poor showing from Pastor.

  8. Maldonado can be an excellent driver on a good day — he just doesn’t have many good days. I’ve always thought his PDVSA sponsorship has been detrimental to his driving. He’s never really had to worry about securing a seat for the next season. As long as he doesn’t build up enough penalty points for a ban then there’s no real consequences to him crashing. I’m hoping that with Renault coming in and not needing his money for 2017, he will finally have some incentive to drive sensibly every week. Because he is very capable of driving well, he just needs to do it a lot more often.

  9. If Maldonado is #21 Raikkonen should be #20. So much for consistency!

    1. @philby Being smashed by Grosjean is much worse than being smashed by Vettel. And Kimi in turn smashed Grosjean across 2 years.

      1. @david-a What you say doesn’t make any sense. If you wanna go down that route go all the way. Vettel was smashed by Ricciardo in 2014. Ricciardo was beaten by Kvyat in 2015. Kvyat was smashed by Jean Eric Vergne in 2014. Vergne also beat Ricciardo in 2012. So Vergne is the best of the bunch results wise but out of F1 and nowhere near an F1 seat.
        Raikkonen endured the second biggest thrashing of the season and narrowly beat Bottas in an inferior car. Also he managed to have less points than Alonso in 2014 in the horrid F14-T.

        1. @philby
          Kimi suffered the 2nd biggest thrashing, but that doesn’t make him the 2nd worst driver on the grid. It’s like Massa for his years vs. Alonso. He might have performed badly, but he was never the worst on the grid. He just came up against one of the greats of the sport in top form. Felipe now gets much more praise & respect now that he holds his own next to Bottas. Kimi got that respect when he was winning at Lotus & more than holding his own against Romain.

  10. He did won the award (if there is one… ) for being the driver with the highest top speed during a GP with 366.4 kph (227.6 mph) at the Mexico GP : https://twitter.com/F1/status/674186237188681728/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw .
    Besides that I agree with his 21st position in the driver ranking.

  11. It is kind of sad to see the driver that Maldonado has become. I used to love the combination of his uncompromising attitude and speed that helped him destroy his team mate Senna in qualifying and sensationally win the Spanish GP in 2012. I was hoping that the frequence of errors would decrease but it did not happen and the speed seemed to disappear as well.

    I think that Maldonado’s pace in 2012 and earlier was real but he obviously has been unable to learn from his mistakes and adapt to new requirements as well as driving cars that are too slow to rise above the midfield (I have read that Maldonado simply tends to push those cars beyond their limit). So I am afraid that there are no fish left in this pond and we can only create another website – hasvenezuelarunoutofmoneyyet.

  12. I was prepared to use my veto if he would have been placed higher… : )

    If you have the raw speed for a couple of laps, or maybe during a whole race is quite encouraging… in your first or second year in F1, but not in your fifth… However, we might have to thankful for him and for his money for keeping alive midfield teams. If this is the price, then…

    Maldonados Steam account might have looked like this after Hungary : )

    1. http://imgur.com/cCagRwH (something left out… as the image is mine, I hope it’s alright to post)

  13. Wohoo!!!! It’s Driver’s Ranking time!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And.. no real surprise here, Crashtor P21, out of a 20 cars grid :P

    1. True, each year it’s a pleasure! (Both statements)

  14. Pastor doesn’t deserve to be last.

    He might have been smashed by Grosjean in qualifying, but in race day he was always close or beating Romain. If it wasn’t by how much bad luck he got (Australia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Monaco, Spain, Belgium..), he would’ve scored as many, or more points, than Grosjean. Actually, if you remove the Belgium podium, you’ll only see that Grosjean only beated Pastor by 9 points. But since Romain is not Maldonado, he’ll be in the top 10 section of drivers, while Pastor is last, without deserving. Typical. Also, thanks for deleting my comment from earlier!

  15. A bit harsh this ranking. Pastor was not the worse driver of the year, for sure!

    1. Who was worse? Merhi? The guy barely had any time in a Formula 1 car before entering the sport, and yet. in his rookie year he made less mistakes than Pastor, and gave his teammate a hard time on many occasions.

      Maldonado was hands down the worst driver on the grid this year. I find it hard that people can argue otherwise.

      1. Worse? Raikkonen, who was absolutely beaten by Vettel.

      2. You need rewatch this season. Its clear Maldonado isn’t the worst driver of 2015 season. You should let your Maldonado’s hate aside.

  16. GP winner…. with ample speed and terrible results… He would benefit greatly from whatever sports psychologist Grosejean was seeing.

    If that does not help…

  17. Sorry but I completely disagree in putting Maldonado in last position when is pretty clear he at least did better than Mehri, Ericsson, Stevens and was in pair with Sainz jr. Plus, Raikkonen was way more lackluster.

    Blaming Maldonado for the first lap crash in Australia is laughable. Nasr made a mess in the race start, forced Raikkonen to run wide and wrecked Maldonado. He was lucky to escape without a punishment. Also, you forgot to say Maldonado lost points in Singapore due Lotus poor strategy and more points in Belgium due the bad run-off area in Eau Rouge (which other drivers like Vettel were victim too (in his case, bad kerbs)). Even Lotus didn’t blame Pastor for what happened in Spain (Grosjean ran wide, cut a corner and should had back off in first place) and also you forgot to say he was doing very competitive laps with a broken rear wing. Also again, in Mexico Maldonado was catching Grosjean despite the Frenchman was beneficed from Safety car.

    You have a point, Grosjean was better in qualify, but the rest is wrong.

  18. Sigh…

    The fact that people standing up for Maldonado collectively use the words “if”, “but” and “unlucky” in conjunction with most of the races of 2015 does indeed tell its own, sad story. Let’s just hope that the promise he showed in 2012 will finally be realised in 2016 and that the words “if”, “but” and “unlucky” need not to be used so frequently, if at all.

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