Maldonado penalised twice as often as any other driver

2016 F1 season

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Pastor Maldonado’s place at Renault in the upcoming season may be under threat as the financial backing he receives from sponsor PDVSA is in doubt.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil producer was invested in Maldonado’s career long before he joined F1 and has continued to back him ever since, during which time he has become one of the sport’s most controversial drivers.

Maldonado has developed a reputation for being incident-prone and has an unenviable reputation before F1’s stewards. As the analysis by F1 Fanatic below shows, he has incurred more than twice as many penalties as any other driver over the course of his 95-race F1 career.

Maldonado earned ten penalties in 2012
According to Maldonado, this is because the stewards treat him more harshly than other drivers. “Sometimes with me they are a bit harder,” he said last December, adding that “other drivers crash and have incidents, nothing happens.”

However as the data below shows such collisions account for less than half of the penalties Maldonado has received. Speeding, Safety Car infractions and impeding account for some of his other penalties.

Arguably, Maldonado has not always been punished as harshly as he might have for some of his incidents. His 2012 collision with Sergio Perez at Silverstone was deemed “serious” enough by the stewards to merit two penalties, yet he escaped any immediate sporting sanction, being given a fine and a reprimand instead.

Maldonado’s driving has increasingly attracted the ire of his fellow drivers. Jenson Button accused Maldonado of trying to drive him off the track in Singapore last year and branded him a “nutter” and “mental” on team radio on separate occasions during the season.

“The guy tried to kill me” exclaimed Jean-Eric Vergne after the pair tangled at Bahrain in 2014 – later in the race Maldonado flipped Esteban Gutierrez onto his roll hoop.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Maldonado’s disciplinary record is that he tends to be involved in more incidents when he has a competitive car at his disposal. Last year he collected eight, and with a race-winning Williams at his disposal in 2012 he made it into double figures.

Several other drivers haven’t racked up ten penalties over the last five years, let alone in a single season. While his Spanish Grand Prix victory that year remains the shining moment in his career, the litany of incidents calls into question whether he has the temperament to handle bring in regular contention at the front of the field.

Maldonado, however, continues to see little wrong with his driving. Asked about his most recent incident, a tangle with Marcus Ericsson at Interlagos, he replied “rubbing’s racing”.

Whether he’s right or wrong, it remains to be seen whether he’ll get to do any more of either in F1 this year.

Most penalised drivers, 2011-2015

Data based on penalties for which the driver was considerably principally responsible, excluding power unit component changes, gearbox changes and similar penalties.

Pastor Maldonado’s penalties, 2011-2015

YearRoundTeamSessionAllegationIncident involvingPenaltyReason
20114WilliamsRacePit lane speedingDrive-through penalty
201112WilliamsQualifyingCaused a collisionLewis HamiltonFive-place grid drop
20123WilliamsQualifyingImpedingHeikki KovalainenReprimand
20126WilliamsPractice 3Caused a collisionSergio PerezTen-place grid drop
20128WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionLewis HamiltonDrive-through penaltyThe driver failed to rejoin the track in a safe manner.
20128WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionLewis HamiltonDrive-through penaltyThe driver failed to rejoin the track in a safe manner.
20129WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionSergio Perez€10,000 fine, reprimandIn view of the serious nature of the incident the Stewards have decided under Article 18.1 to apply two penalties.
201211WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionPaul di RestaDrive-through penalty
201212WilliamsQualifyingImpedingNico HulkenbergThree-place grid dropThe driver of Car 18 was warned by his team not to ‘hold up’ Car 12 which was behind him, yet he clearly did impede Car 12. However as Car 12 continued into Q2 a more severe penalty was not considered appropriate.
201212WilliamsRaceJump startFive-place grid dropThe driver failed to finish the race so the usual penalty for a false start could not be imposed.
201212WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionTimo GlockFive-place grid drop
201220WilliamsQualifyingDid not stop for weighingReprimandThe driver failed to proceed directly to the FIA garage when signalled to do so.
201220WilliamsQAccrued three reprimandsTen-place grid drop
20135WilliamsRacePit lane speedingDrive-through penalty
20137WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionAdrian SutilDrive-through penaltyCar 16 (Maldonado) drove into the rear of car 15 at turn 10.
201311WilliamsRaceCaused a collisionPaul di RestaTen-second stop-go penalty
20143LotusRaceCollisionEsteban GutierrezTen-second stop-go penalty, five-place grid drop, three penalty points
20145LotusRaceCollisionMarcus EricssonFive-second time penalty, one penalty point
20147LotusQualifyingLeft car without replacing steering wheelReprimandThe stewards noted that the car was not left in a dangerous position on the track and therefore a reprimand was appropriate.
201415LotusRacePit lane speedingDrive-through penalty
201417LotusRaceSafety Car speedingFive-second time penalty, one penalty point
201417LotusRacePit lane speedingFive-second time penalty
20152LotusRaceSafety Car speedingTen-second time penalty, three penalty pointsThe driver failed to stay above the required time set by the FIA ECU during the deployment of the Safety Car.
20154LotusRaceOut of position on the gridFive-second time penalty
20159LotusQualifyingLeft the trackLap time deleted
201510LotusRaceCaused an incidentSergio PerezDrive-through penalty, two penalty pointsCar 13 caused the collision with car 11.
201510LotusRacePit lane speedingDrive-through penalty
201510LotusRaceOvertook under the Safety CarWill StevensTen-second time penaltyCar 13 overtook car 28 before reaching the Safety Car One line at the end of the Safety Car period.
201518LotusRaceCaused an incidentMarcus EricssonFive second time penalty, one penalty pointCar 13 collided with car 9 in turn one.

2016 F1 season

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Author information

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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49 comments on “Maldonado penalised twice as often as any other driver”

  1. Res ipsa loquitur – “The thing speaks for itself”.

  2. Worse – he just doesn’t learn. He gets 6-7-8 penalties season after season.

    I bet Hamilton’s or Grosjean’s breakdown is much different.

    1. @atticus-2, it is interesting that you raise that question, because there has actually been a breakdown for the number of times that Hamilton was investigated for his driving in the first five years of his career (the same length of time for which Maldonado has now been driving).

      If you were to look at his performance over the first five years of his career, Hamilton was investigated 35 times by the stewards, and still holds the record for the most investigations into one driver in a single year (in 2011) and the highest number of penalties awarded to a driver in a single season (he was penalised 9 times in 2011, and at the time many felt that it should have been higher). Even then, that total excludes some incidents where Hamilton was involved in poor driving on track, but no investigation took place (such as when he collided with Kobayashi in the Belgian GP in 2011).

      1. Said it before, say it again, Hamilton is king of crashing/barging people off the circuit etc not at all surprised by those figures you mention. Of course fans and British media look the other way when discussing their ‘chosen one’ but the facts remain.

        1. Fans of any driver tend to look the other way when their “chosen one” is discussed with any critical dialogue, regardless of nationality.

          Can we put an end to the anti-Brit rhetoric when criticising Hamilton, it wouldn’t be acceptable to be racist against the Spanish when criticising Alonso, etc, and critics of Hamilton don’t get a special xenophobia pass.

          1. I was referring to ‘British Media’ not British fans. Maybe I should have said ‘Sky F1’ hope that clears it up…:-)

      2. I suspect Hamiltons might have been even higher if he wasn’t in such a darn good car as of later there’s not been al that many opportunities for anyone to challenge him for position.

        That being said, he’s the master of pushing drivers wide, particularly on the first few turns and because these days “the team result” is absolutely vital, competing drivers just shift out the way and give him room, because invariably these incidents happen at the front and nobody wants to risk a podium even if it’s at the expense of letting the superior car and driver win.

        In Maldonados case the incidents are at best mid field where the onus on staying in one piece is far less.

        IMO bother drivers rarely admit fault, and are unlikely to change their driving style. 1 because it works for him and he’s got the hardness required to be WDC, the other because it makes him “talked about” albeit for all the wrong reasons.

        In reality would we really want either to change – it’s racing and we expect some drivers to be more agressive than others – that’s what we actually want, differences, not more of the same.

  3. Maldonado, however, continues to see little wrong with his driving.

    This is precisely the issue with Maldonado…he never learns. He has bucket loads of speed on his day (as the win in Spain proves) but he really needs to learn how to accept blame when he is wrong, learn from incidents and then try his best to not get involved in a similar ones again. There couldn’t be more of a contrast between Pastor and his erstwhile teammate Romain Grosjean. The one time “first lap nutcase” took his criticism on the chin, got hold of a good sports psychologist, applied himself, cut out the nonsense and let his natural speed do the talking. The result, he is one of the quickest and best liked drivers in F1 today.

    Pastor would do well to follow suit.

    1. @geemac Great comment. Despite his win, I am not even sure he is really quick. That was during an era where finding the sweet spot was key. He drove well under pressure and we have to concede him a great drive, but we don’t know which part the car or setup played in his speed.

      If it wasn’t for his money, he would probably be out of F1 right now. The difference with Grosjean is really telling a lot between someone which had to fight to reach and stay in F1 and someone who payed to drive a nice car and know he will stay there because teams need his backing. I think that lift the necessity for him to question himself and recognize his mistakes. Everyone does some, and it is usually a way to improve. But Maldonado should probably follow the path shown by Grosjean, find himself in another category than F1 and come back when he is ready, if he is one day.

    2. @geemac

      He has bucket loads of speed on his day (as the win in Spain proves)


      Despite his win, I am not even sure he is really quick.

      I’d love to see what the Williams FW34 was capable of in the hands of a world class driver like Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel instead of… uhm… Maldonado and Senna.

      On top of winning in Spain, Maldonado crashed when hunting Alonso in Australia, both Williams drivers messed up in Malaysia and were at the back of the field, but even an average driver like Bruno was able to charge his way back up to 6th (and Maldonado was faster in clean air than even Alonso and Perez), Maldonado was on for a podium in Valencia before crashing, qualified 3rd in Belgium, qualified 2nd in Singapore and was running 3rd before a hydraulics problem, and qualified 3rd in Abu Dhabi (and was matching Raikkonen’s pace before his KERS failed).

      Who knows what that FW36 was actually capable of. The fact that it finished 8th in the WCC is a downright tragedy.

      1. Who knows what that FW36 was actually capable of. The fact that it finished 8th in the WCC is a downright tragedy.

        Never a truer word spoken @kingshark

      2. In Malaysia 2012 the track was wet but dried. Had remained wet Bruno Senna could still go on overtaking more people, as he really was good in the wet. However in the dry the car was not so competitive that day, differently to what happened in Barcelona in Maldonado’s hands. The Venezuelan lost a lot of points with mistakes and Bruno with his qualifying issues and some silly penalties, but I doubt even Alonso or Hamilton could win more than that race in Barcelona, as Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus were clearly stronger that season. And Bruno could still improve a lot had he remained with the team (as reported by Damon Hill later), differently to Maldonado…

  4. The troubling thing for me about this is that Maldonado’s been penalised for incidents twice as much as any other driver despite the rest of the drivers saying that they give him more room!

  5. Could be interesting next year with Gutierrez back.

    Maldonado sits at 29 penalties in 76 races (0.38/race), whereas Gutierrez sits at 12/28 or 0.43/race.

    Grosjean would be a ‘distant’ third at 0.23/race, unless we include Verstappen who I believe sits on 7 in 19 races, thus 0.37/race!

  6. The man, the legend.

    He’s often the only exciting prospect ahead of a Grand-Prix weekend. I hope PDVSA will cough up the money for the 2016 season.

  7. I can somewhere deep down understand one driver is more prone to having collisions, it’s racing, it happens. It’s the sheer amount of other penalties for overtaking under SC, speeding in the pit lane and simply ignoring basic rules that are present in every single category that show he does not want to learn or improve. His attitude towards being safe is just terrible. It is very surprising it has been Grosjean who has had the racing ban and not our feisty Venezuelan.

    1. I thought he should of been banned for a season for intentionally ramming Hamilton, that was just shocking.

      1. Agreed. I think it is his general attitude…, but apparantly his sponsors don’t see that the attitude is a disgrace and maybe the Venezuelans don’t care much either, as long as they have a countryman to cheer for.

  8. Best. Bar graph. Ever.

  9. It’s really weird to see an F1 driver with so many infractions unrelated to racing (jump starts, pitlane speeding, etc). But what amaizes me the most is that he never says anything even close to admitting a mistake.

    Saying the stewards treat him differently after you went 30 times in front of them to explain a tangle with another driver is so short sighted it’s beyond belief. How can you really pretend them to act the same as with the others if you’re a regular every weekend?!

    It’s sad because the guy is certainly fast, but there has never been a driver better positioned for the “fast but reckless” motto. In that 2012 Williams he should’ve at least scored 4 more podiums.

  10. Hopefully these rumors of him losing the Renault seat are true.

  11. Reminds me of CO2 in the atmosphere graph… pretty obvious. Yet there will be Maldonado prowess deniers comming in soon, saying his penalties are not man made… but enforced upon us by shameless Danish loby, trying to get their guy to race.

    1. But of course, the Danish lobby tries to get Mac in an F1 racing seat again;-)

  12. thanks for this Keith! I think it comes of no surprise to anyone really. Well maybe only one person who defies any wrong doing the most (Maldonado)!

    Since you have a penalty tally now, how about a crash tally? maybe link all known incidents caught on video in a new thread? :-) or will that thread be just too long? ;-)

    I think it would show just how dangerous this man really is, I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t killed anyone yet.

    If I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to go in one of those 2 seater F1 cars with Maldonado to experience a lap around a track, I can honestly say I would have to pass.

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      15th January 2016, 23:53

      Ha ha, he would “do a Pizzonia”!!

  13. FlyingLobster27
    15th January 2016, 15:37

    Spa 2013, I think it was, should have been a race ban. When you rack up three driving standards penalties in one weekend (I was under the impression he had a gearbox demotion too or something, but that’s obviously a false memory!), there should be a suspension.

  14. I thought the whole idea of the Superlicence was to keep unsuitable people like this out of F1.

    1. @lockup …not to kick out those already in, it seems.

    2. Seems it serves no purpose.

    3. Yeah, unsuitable race winners. Oh, wait…

  15. I wish the chart was ration of penalty per race. In that way we could control for the fact that the more you race the more chance of doing one or other infraction.

    1. Most of the drivers in the chart have done the same number of GPs as Maldonado in the period being analysed

  16. I think the point of this article is clear: Maldonado is a an F1 driver whose only reason why is he is driving in F1 is because he brings lots of oil money with him, and because he has the open-wheel junior formula experience before F1. I totally agree- as soon as the dirty money stops flowing from Maldonado’s end- then he will cease to exist as an F1 driver. No team will ever want to employ a driver whose problems significantly outweigh his successes. The fact that Maldonado was chosen over Hulkenberg for the 2014 season is an example with many things wrong with the financial end of F1.

    Comparing Maldonado to Andrea de Cesaris is in fact a good comparison: like Maldonado, de Cesaris was loaded with Marlboro Italy backing- his family had strong connections, and he was able to bring all his tobacco money to teams that really needed it. Hence why he drove for so many teams…

  17. PDVSA got huge amount exposure through Pastor, which wouldnt have been the case if it was anyone else

    1. Yeah. ‘If you’re not going to win, at least get some attention.’

    2. That is true, about the exposure.

      But even that is bad news if it results in sales, because, unbelievably, PDVSA imports refined unleaded at full market value, and sells it at a massive loss, the more retail sales they make, the more they lose, gotta love Venezuela.

  18. Keith, I would like to ask you a question about the way you have written this article.

    Why, when discussing the collision between Button and Maldonado in Singapore, did you choose to leave out the detail that, according to the stewards, the accident was caused after Button clipped the back of Maldonado’s car on the entry into Turn 17? It is a rather important fact because, rather than putting the blame onto Maldonado, the stewards inquiry effectively placed at least part of the responsibility onto Button as a result of his actions – I feel that quoting only Button’s criticism, but not the fact that Maldonado was not judged to have been at fault, is therefore misleading.

    1. Looks like the text and link became one.
      So the craziest Crashtor crash is behind the link in the text ;)

      1. You obviously have youtube-comments disabled… which I understand. However, after checking the comments, and re-checking google ( and wikipedia), Maldonado was driving the yellow car that slowly passed, the driver crashing into the site was Stefano Proetto, and the commentary got it wrong.

        1. Oh, thx for mentioning it.
          I never read comments, and the commentator was dead wrong it seems.

          But still Maldonado is craycray

    1. Ok that didnt work at all!!! The link is to! I should know how to use html – i done a diploma in computing!!!

  19. And he deserves it.

  20. with a race-winning Williams at his disposal

    Pun intended, yes? Yes?!

  21. a few more thoughts about the topic:
    – although Maldonado seems (seemed?) to have the raw speed for one lap or one race, he certainly cannot maintain it consistently throughout many laps, multiple races or for a length of a season. (maybe that’s a reason for his frustration that ends up in certain moves on tracks) the only consistent thing in his career are the driver errors. and he is now consistently featured on the very bottom of the driver rankings here…
    – some of you mentioned what the 2012 Williams would have been capable of in the hands of a top class driver. i would say, the man that was fired to let some other Brazilian millions flow into Williams, Rubens Barrichello might not have won that particular Spanish GP, but would have finished regularily on the podium or in very strong positions in the near.
    – for Hamilton, 2011 was the story with Massa. they literally pulled themselves together race by race, similar to what we have seen this year between Räikkönen and Bottas, just more regular. they had quite a history with each other behind them, which pretty much increased their accident proneness towards each other. i’m not about to defend either of them, but this really was a special case which a cold headed pro could have handled better, but they considered it as a matter of prestige, and went into uncertain actions. that explains the most of Hamiltons 2011 accidents, but obviously does not explain the rest.

  22. And people still say stewards are not consistent with the handing out of penalties? :)

    1. They’re not; similar situations often get wildly different penalties

Comments are closed.