Maldonado confirms F1 exit

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Pastor Maldonado has officially confirmed he will not be on the F1 grid in 2016.

Maldonado announced the news on social media: “Today with the utmost humility I inform you that I will not be present at the starting grid for the 2016 F1 season,” he said, “thanks for all your messages of support, passion and concern for my future.”

“I feel very honoured with the support of all of you and proud of my professional performance.”

Maldonado won for Williams in Spain in 2012
Maldonado already had a contract to continue driving for Lotus, which Renault has taken over. He brought substantial funding to the team from Venezuelan state oil producer PDVSA, but political upheaval and falling oil prices put that support in jeopardy.

The 30-year-old made his F1 debut with Williams in 2011 as the reigning GP2 champion and won the Spanish Grand Prix with them the following year. Maldonado moved to Lotus after a frustrating 2013 season. He developed a reputation for being incident-prone, picking up penalties at more than twice the rate of his rivals during his five years in F1 to date.

Maldonado’s departure hands a lifeline to Magnussen, who drove for McLaren throughout 2014 but was squeezed out of the team when it hired Fernando Alonso at the end of the year. Magnussen substituted for Alonso at the Australian Grand Prix last year but was unable to start the race due to technical problems. He was then dropped from the team’s line-up in October.

The former Lotus team will therefore begin 2015 with a completely new driver line-up, Jolyon Palmer having already been confirmed in place of Romain Grosjean.

Maldonado was the third driver from Venezuela to race in F1, following fifties racer Ettore Chimeri and Ayrton Senna’s first team mate Johnny Cecotto.

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

107 comments on “Maldonado confirms F1 exit”

  1. Best of luck, Pastor. We will miss you.

    1. You mean, will NOT

    2. The end of a legend…

      1. … a true legend

    3. I will really miss the 2014 penalty points World Champion, can’t believe he got dropped after coming so close to regaining his title.

    4. I will miss his “racing incidents”.

    5. I will miss him. I believe he had the talent to remain in F1. Most F1 fans hate him for his over aggression, but he actually made the races more lively. Probably the only mistake (and a big mistake) Pastor made in his career was bad-mouthing Williams – the team that gave him his only win. If he had not openly criticized it, there was a chance he’d have remained with Williams and tasted much better results than the frustrating experiences at Lotus. Let’s not forget, to date he’s the last Williams winner.

      To say I will miss him would be a massive, massive understatement. Too bad he has no value in F1 circles if not for his PDVSA money…

    6. Hey, he wasn’t good enough there’s many current drivers feeling that pressure. Pastor’s sponsors did support 2 F1 teams past extinction. He wasn’t impolite. I’d rather lose Massa, or even Button or Raikkonen someone older, slow cranky and from a country with multiple f1 drivers.

    7. Mark Webber’s words seem prophetic!

  2. The whole closed-cockpit debate seems really pointless now.

    1. In light of this news, all teams have brought front wing production back down to normal levels for 2016…

      1. Crash tests have been relaxed? Anyone who has failed impact tests for their 2016 cars will now pass without having to alter anything.

    2. comment of the decade!!!

      1. @sato113

        You beat me to it. Wanted to write the same! :)

    3. @paeschli You just broke the internet, sir.

    4. @paeschli Straight to the point. :D

    5. Ahahahahah well played sir!

    6. @paeschli: “The whole closed-cockpit debate seems really pointless now.” COTD for sure;-)

    7. COTD for sure.

    8. Your comment might cost me my job. I am not supposed to laugh so loud.

    9. That is the best comment of the year!

  3. At 30, I don’t see him making a comeback to the sport. But as always, F1 and money go hand in hand. So maybe a seat in Manor is still a possibility?

    Conversely the situation in his country isn’t really conductive to him being state sponsored in a rich man’s sport. So it could be the end of Pastor Maldonado in F1 for sure.

    Either way, I will miss the website.

    1. @evered7 for you and all other people that keep saying that manor is a possibility, no money means no money.

      not less money, no money.

      and unfortunately for maldonado and everyone who isn’t rio haryanto, they need exactly that.

      1. @rigi I get it and that is why I mentioned it in the second paragraph. Not a big loss to the F1 fraternity.

      2. Even Rio seems to be in trouble.
        As for Pastor…So long…

    1. Pastor has 95 race starts and has scored points on 14 races, and is proud of his “professional performance”?

      Guys like Grosjean, Perez and Hulkenberg have almost the same race starts with way more point scoring finishes (35, 47 and 52).

      The only good thing he has done was to bring some massive backing and save Williams and Lotus. I can only feel happy as he isn’t needed anymore.

      1. But… Maldonado won a race brilliantly, a thing that no one of this drivers did, and probably never will.

        1. Yep… about that race (in which he drove well a deserving car). I’ve always wondered, such an outlier performance. It was a special anniversary for Sir F Williams, was it not? Conspiracy theories, anyone?

          1. Yeah right so Alonso let him win in Spain! Get a grip of reality. He showed flashes of brilliance that 2 of the 3 aforementioned drivers never did. Perez time to taste victory will come but the other 2 have punched their ticket.

          2. If you want to stoke controversy, how about if we remember the big fire in the William’s garage immediately after the race? That could have been the ideal time for destroying/damaging something incriminating. :)

            I really just think the key of that sole great result for him is that in 2012, with the teams still trying to figure out the tire compounds, it was a good enough car to qualify in front, and then he rarely had anyone in front of him…

      2. Neither of those drivers won a race @corix. Each of those three drivers failed to live up to hype which people give them, Hulkenberg included.

        Pastor never feared to speak his mind. He was aggressive and crash-worthy, but that’s what made the races more lively. In contrast Magnussen will be such a bore…

        Pastor is the last winner for Williams. And still people can’t give him credit for that – just because he does not fit in their mould of a how an F1 driver should be. Probably the same reason why Nelson Piquet is not given the credit he deserves…

  4. This has made my day that little bit more pleasant

  5. Poor Maldonado.

  6. this means a little less excitement in 2016.

  7. Whatever reservations I have about Pastor as a racing driver (and those are many), it has to be said that he tried his best; he brought a brand of vibrant determination onto the grid that is hard to forget. Yes, it often went pear-shaped (and the examples will be long-remembered), and Pastor might still be on the grid today if he’d learned from his mistakes… …but within those limitations, he really did maximise his talent.

    I also give credit for how Pastor’s handled his exit; it could have been bitter, it could have been anonymous – but the way Pastor wrote about it made it outright classy. Best wishes to Pastor in the future, and good luck to whoever his replacement is (probably Kevin Magnussen, but preferring not to presume ahead of time).

    1. “vibrant determination” another way of saying destruction derby!!!!

    2. Agree with all of that @alianora-la-canta. Today in his goodbye message he’s shown the maturity his racing never really seemed to grow into.

      Shame he never got to make the most out of his talent by learning how to improve on himself, but at least we got a great race win from him. I think he can be proud of that for a long time.

    3. Yes .F1 is not the pinnacle of motosports now.We have drivers who win WDCs just because of car advantage and moan about the team when he is not given the strategy he needs.

      1. We have drivers who win WDCs just because of car advantage

        Like in 1988 with the McLaren MP-4/4? Or 1978 with the Lotus 79?

  8. I’m definitely not a fan of his, but I feel for any driver who loses their ride at this point in the season, as there is no way to get another drive.

  9. I have to be honest. It’s a shame that such a fast driver performed like he did. In 5 years, he has shown flashes of some outstanding speed, specially in 2012. Sadly those were few and far between, as he spent most of his time covering certain patches of racetracks with carbon fibre from his car and/or others.

    Behind that MASSIVE amount of money from PDVSA, stood a driver that could’ve followed the same path as Perez: brings the money but also the talent. But he never bothered to learn from his mistakes and now that the funding is out, he’s without a drive and won’t return to the sport.

    It’s amaizing in the end that a driver like him has a Gran Prix win to his name. That day at Spain feels like decades ago. I wish we had seen more of that: a guy that always excelled at Monaco can’t be a bad driver, but some of his on-track judgements were so wrong that whatever time he had left to prove doubters wrong would’ve have made no difference at all.

    An expected exit then. I’m glad we’re getting a talented driver in return. Twitter will be boring during F1 weekends tho!

    1. kudos for chosing such a brilliant picture for this article!

    2. “He never learned from his mistakes”… Exactly!
      It is too bad that the “utmost humility” he has shown publicly in his career was in this press release.

  10. If only he’d managed to channel his talent properly…

    Could have been a more than solid driver but refused to learn from his mistakes.

    1. He did last year and Gro soundly beat him in a big way. Make no mistake tho he had talent check his GP2 record and his Spain F1 win. I am glad tho if Mag races although he should have beat Button, if you are a huge talent you need to be ebating JB. Watch people now say about Alo last year, Alo was the better driver just like Ham was.

      1. Please don’t tear off my head. But I think there is a case to be made that Button just might be the best driver in the Pirelli era?
        His smooth driving style might be superior to aggressive driving when using degrading tyres. It is quite conspicuous that he has beat all his highly rated teammates while Pirelli has supplyed tyres. Including Alonso and Hamilton in 2011.

        1. But I think there is a case to be made that Button just might be the best driver in the Pirelli era

          I wouldn’t have thought so. He got beat quite comprehensibly by Hamilton in 2012 (most notably being lapped by Hamilton on his way to a race win), chiefly because of his inability to set up the car for the Pirelli tyres.

          …the best driver in the Pirelli era?

          I guess there are 2 ways you could read this statement either

          1) “Who is the best driver at using the Pirelli tyres” in which cause I would have to put my vote in for Perez
          2) “Who has been the best driver during the years Pirelli has supplied tyres (2011 – now)” In which case I would have put 1 of the big 3 (Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso)

  11. Let’s be honest people this guy did have talent he just looked so slow compared to Grosjean he made mistakes but gove me hiom over Chilton Gutierez any day. I will never forget what he did in Val to my fav driver tho it was crazy.

  12. Yes! Yes! Yeessss!

    I think that says it all.

    1. @neelv27

      In 2013, 2014 or before you could be right, what did he do last year? Atleast he did not almost take a 2xWC head off in a race before. Gro turned it around just like Mal did. Difference is Gro is better than Mal. But there will be way worst drivers than Pastor on the grid next year

      1. I think for me personally and it’s just my personal opinion that drivers like Maldonado are the reason why cash crunched teams overlook drivers who can’t bring in that much amount of money in-spite having the obvious talent. No doubt, he showed flashes of speed but having flashes of speed doesn’t make you a worthy Grand Prix driver, it’s a package. What is the point of having pure speed when you can’t turn it into results?

        Some might miss him but imagine that there could be 50 other drivers who were more deserving than he ever was.

        Finally, the way his exit from the sport happened says it all about how the paddock considered him. No team is ready to risk recruiting him on talent but only would do because he brings in petro-dollars. When the money evaporates, Pastor Maldonado has zero credibility and brings zero benefit to a team. His exit says it all!

  13. For all I can say about Maldonado, he won a race. He achieved more than the vast majority of F1 drivers ever have.

    But he also demonstrated some of the most appalling on-track behaviour of any driver ever to step into an F1 car. His often erratic and sometimes dangerous driving will not be missed in the sport.

    I’m glad to see a promising young driver like Kevin Magnussen having his rightful opportunity to show what he can do.

  14. His Catalunya drive was legendary. But he was very looky Hamilton went to the back, he would have walked that race he basically finished ahead of Button starting from the back. One of his best ever drives imo.

    1. he would have walked that race

      This is a myth. Hamilton was nearly lapped by Maldonado that race, and was slower than Maldonado in every lap (including the ones he spend in clean air, and on fresher tyres than Maldonado).

      Hamilton would have likely fallen backwards that race, as he did in Bahrain and Europe, where too his race pace was nowhere near his qualifying pace. Coincidentally, all three races were very hot.

    2. In that race Maldonado had the pace and the tire life, so he was able to undercut Alonso in the race to gain track position and win the race. Based on Hamilton’s poor speed in the race he would probably have undercut Hamilton as well at some point in the race.

      By the way, I think McLaren’s strategy was way too conservative that race. Hamilton was one of the few drivers to make only two pitstops, but apparently he had to nurse his tires all the time and he was in traffic for most of the time, so he just finished in 8th place (which was quite a disastrous result for him). Compare his drive to Vettel’s race on the same track two years later in the underpowered Red Bull, where he started from 15th place and finished in 4th place behind the Mercedes and his teammate. I think that was an impressive performance.

      1. Hamilton was one of the few drivers to make only two pitstops

        He was actually the only driver to complete the GP with 2 pitstops.

        This is a myth. Hamilton was nearly lapped by Maldonado that race, and was slower than Maldonado in every lap

        He had to do a tremendous amount of tyre saving over everyone else on the track, while in dirty air and trying to overtake people for position. I’m not saying he would have walked the race (or even that he definitely would have won) but I do think it is disingenuous to compare his lap times against a front runner who on average ran in clean air more, had less overtaking to do and had on average fresher tyres.

  15. I had mixed feeling regarding Pastor´s exit from Formula 1.

    From one side I am happy, honestly he was to reckless and always blame someone else (drivers, marshalls, etc.). However I think no driver deserves to be “let down” by their sponsors with no chance to get a new seat.

    And I think the main problem is precisely that. The sport has been getting more expensive and only drivers with an insane financial support has the chance to drive. I think FIA has to address this issue (for example they could backup with their own money the GP2 champion of the previous year so he/she has a chance in an entry level team like Sauber or Manor).

  16. Great news, I don’t feel sorry for him at all. He had a disgraceful attitude of never admitting his mistakes, unlike for example Grosjean, and was a danger to other racers on the circuit. I will remember him not for his race win but for his two swipes on Perez and Hamilton on track. I think that’s his deserved legacy.

    1. Grosjean matured, while Maldonado just repeated his methods over and over. It’s nice to see some justice in the Formula 1 world!

    2. @john-h Actually he did pin the blame on himself once…

      …when he crashed on his own:

  17. He’s had enough chances, conversely K-Mag undoubtedly deserved more than one season. This is great news for the quality of the grid, overall. This may to spoiled soon if Haryanto gets the Manor seat.

    1. Is that so? What’s wrong with Haryanto in Manor Seat? Haryanto might not be the fastest driver out there, but I think he deserve that opportunity.

  18. If only now Vandoorne got the seat instead of Magnussen.

    1. @xtwl If Magnussen didn’t get this seat, we’d have never have seen him in F1 again. Whilst Vandoorne didn’t get the 2016 drive, given his credentials and the aged champions at McLaren, it would be a miracle if Stoffel never made it to the grid.

    2. I reckon that Stoffel and Kevin will battle it out at the highest level in the not so distant future.

  19. I’m happy and sad about this. I’m happy because F1 seems to be returning to being a meritocracy with talent (Magnussen presumably) winning the day over money (Maldonado). But I’m also sad because, if Pastor had just been able to learn from his mistakes, he could well have delivered performances like those in Spain 2012 more often. I won’t duplicate my thoughts though, they are all in the forum (

    His F1 dream is over (for the foreseeable future), but he leaves with a dignified message and a race win under his belt. It is a race win that isn’t given credit for if truth be told. Yes, the cards fell for him that day, but he still had to win the race. It was by no means given to him on a plate and he can feel very proud of winning it. He held off a double world champion (who was racing at home) with a sublime, faultless drive. He was incredible that day and he will forever be a part of the great heritage of Williams. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenburg are often lauded in the press, but they couldn’t do what Pastor did when their chances to grab race wins presented themselves (in Sepang 2012 and at Interlagos 2012 respectively). It just goes to show how much of a (wasted) talent Pastor is. I really feel for the guy, but this feels like the right decision for me.

    1. Agree completely with this. Comment of the day.

    2. @geemac
      Agree with most of what you said.

      He was a driver that could have matured in to a more professional competitor.. maybe not WDC material, but a solid driver nonetheless. He’s had 5 years in the sport to replicate his Barcelona 2012 form, and honestly, he has failed to do so. I think there are far more deserving talents who’ve had lesser opportunity in the sport, so I cannot feel bad for his exit at all.

      Wish him all the best for his future in racing though, and I hope for him to add entertainment to any motorsport series he enters.

      1. @todfod Don’t get me wrong, I agree him leaving the sport is a good thing, it doesn’t mean I’m not sad about the waste of talent though.

  20. Maldonado has been such a frustrating driver to watch. He has the raw pace, he has proven himself in the junior categories and in races such as Spain 2012 and Abu Dhabi 2012, but time and time again he proves that he simply lacks discipline. Ok, so he doesn’t drive into other drivers deliberately anymore, but even in his last season he managed to pick up more penalty points than any other driver. He’s had five seasons but he still hasn’t learned how to behave himself, so I’m happy that Magnussen gets a second chance.

    1. Verstappen got most penalty points last season.

  21. Yes, finally! Maldonado belongs in a demolition derby championship, not Formula 1!

    1. On the subject of Maldonado, I predicted that this would happen ever since Renault took over the team. There was no way that a highly profitable company like Renault would need Crashdonado and his PDVSA money.

      1. If PDVSA had kept the money flowing, he would have been on the grid this year.

        The problem is that Venezuela is pretty much bankrupt and is the country who suffered the most from the current oil prices.

        Magnussen was talking about a test drive for 2016 before the Maldonado situation got out of hand. It’s pure luck he will be on the grid next year.

  22. RB (@frogmankouki)
    1st February 2016, 17:23

    It’s nice to see some websites have already made a tribute to Maldonado’s retirement. It’s the end of an era…

    In all seriousness I’m glad K-Mag will have a second chance at F1, if this time doesn’t work out it maybe time to join his father in a Corvette.

  23. I think it’s worth remembering the state of affairs that led this to happen. I feel for the people that this truly effects.

    1. If you are referring to the people of Venezuela, then I agree completely. If you are referring to big business, then not so much!

  24. It is kind of a shame because regardless of the constant jokes and memes, at the end of the day Pastor Maldonado won a Grand Prix, and won it on merit. That’s more than the likes of Bottas, Heidfeld, Grosjean, Perez and Hulkenberg have all achieved. However with such speed also came some incredibly erratic driving. Whilst Grosjean was able to shake that off, regardless of what Maldonado did, he never seemed to get given such a chance. I genuinely believed that he was generally getting better on the track, but it’s almost certainly come too late for him.

    Obviously what has happened is well out of his control, so it is going to be very tricky for him now, which is a shame as his F1 experience and raw speed would almost certainly be an asset elsewhere but with no backing and seasons starting very soon, he is going to struggle to find a seat for this year at least.

    However if you asked me whether I would have Kevin Magnussen in that seat over Pastor Maldonado, I would certainly say yes. Magnussen, who is still 23 remember, will be a solid long-term investment for Renault. I am sure that his McLaren experience will be very helpful here, and given how McLaren treated him in 2015, this will look pretty good PR-wise. I don’t think that there is a better driver who is as young available right now who is not tied to another team.

    1. I Agree with 100% @craig-o

      I will never really be able to form an opinion on Maldonado. Had he not won a grand prix, I would have no problem labeling him as one of the worse and most dangerous drivers ever, who stayed on the grid for so long because of money, pure and simple. But HE WON A RACE ON MERIT, and not because of track/weather conditions (i.e. it rained and he pitted before everbody else) or another freak occurence (ex. bystander running on the track, a huge crash with multiple drivers). He simply qualified well, got a little lucky when Hamilton was demoted from pole and drove brilliantly, keeping Alonso at bay (in his home grand prix no less!) and won. That is something many more well-regarded drivers have never or will never do.

      In the end, I guess, you can consider Spain a freak ocurrence or a glimpse of a driver who, had he gotten his act together, could have really made an impact in F1, for good reasons. Either way, I will never be able to reconcile these two extremes..

  25. Not at all shocked by this, and if it is Kevin Magnussen I am glad, he deserves another go and hopefully this can be the platform for a long career. One thing though, I see jokes and snidey remarks about Pastor, BUT these guys risk their own lives for Sport and for people like me and you. Pastor did a hell of a lot more than most race drivers and won a GP fair and square. Can we at least show some respect.

  26. Good riddance.

    Now I just need to see KMag lap the McFailens a few times to feel really good about this.

  27. This is an absolute disaster. Now what the hell are we going to complain about?

    1. @ciaran there isn’t much, really. Fingerboy isn’t annoynig anymore, Lewis’ dress code is boring to discuss about, Nico probably won’t suck as much as he did early last year, McLaren might fix their problems… No idea how twitter will behave next season… unless something unexpected happens, it’ll be a bit boring! :(

    2. Don’t worry, Bernie always manages to thicken the plot.

  28. Soooo my petrol is now cheaper…

    And F1 has one less petro driver…

    Good day. Not that I hate Maldonado, he is a GP winner, not many pay drivers can have that on CV. In fact he far surpasess anything Rio or that new british guy ever did…

    But common crashes, common penalties,… Well he is better placed in some touring car I reckon.

  29. I must say, I am a little sad. Wasn’t a big fan of him. But he had his moments, and boy were they amazing. He beat an on-form Alonso in Alonso’s home ground in 2012 and that for me, remains one of the best underdog performances I have witnessed in the last 10 years. He had other strong outings in 2012 (Singapore, Abu Dhabi).

    But yes, he deserved to be booted out.

  30. Now Pastor can go to Indy car and really stir things up with the likes of Will Power! Is there a track big enough for the two of them? :)

  31. Twitter’s going to be a lot more dull without Crashtor Loldonado’s shenanigans.

  32. “Maldonado Confirms F1 Exit…Hits Door On Way Out”

  33. Bad driver….Pay driver…..Collateral damage. Good riddance.

  34. The SC will rust now.. :(

  35. Regardless of Maldonado’s talent (or lack thereof), I think the real tragedy here is seeing how a drivers future in F1 is really no longer determined by talent, but by how much money he can bring to the team. Yes, I know this is nothing new, but it does bring it to the forefront once again.

  36. Maldonado: the driver we all love to hate. But he did win an F1 race, and that’s something Pérez, Grosjean, Hülkenberg, and Bottas haven’t been able to do.

    His fame had spread so far that a website dedicated to his exploits,, was created. Looks like they’ll be following himself in whatever race series he graces next.

  37. There is a place for a good driver.

  38. Are we really certain he’ll be replaced by someone with talent rather than $$ on the grid.

    Those that think this will be the end of drivers less deserving making it to the grid because they come with huge money are kidding themselves.
    I doubt though that we’ll see the same level of “entertainment” that pastor has supplied at the expense of carbon fibre ever again.

    Hopefully some good racing this year will make up for his loss.

  39. I understand and have sympathy for all the fury, but sometimes is good to put things on context:

  40. I will miss him because:
    1) He’s a guy that always pushes very hard, which has great value for me
    2) He’s a race driver that will not give up a fight with anyone, again great value
    3) He takes the critics as a boxer; they don’t hurt him
    4) He’s pure, genuine and old school
    5) He has passion and personality. Take Kviyat, Gro, Hulk, Ros, Sai… they are all very good, but ohhh sooo boring, so dry, synthetic, never say an interesting thing, artificial, remote controlled
    My 2 cents

  41. and the grid breathes a collective sigh of relief.

  42. He was an outlier anyways, in almost every aspects. With the amount of talent that is sitting without race-seats, it only makes sense to replace and remove the ones who have not been delivering that much.

  43. I have little to no sympathy for a driver who is not good enough to be in F1 and who was only there because he had the massive backing to buy his way into a team. His flaws and problems far outweighed his talent- not that there was much of it to begin with, anyway.

  44. He’s a popular guy and would be remembered, even if for the wrong reasons.

  45. Yes yes, Crashtor is gone, F1 drivers are feeling safer etc. etc.

    But what kind of money is Magnussen bringing into Renault? Surely this is only going to cause more problems for Renault in the long run as they lose that large (30mil?) chunk of money that Pastor brought in. I’m not sure Magnussen brings in much of a budget, and certain he doesn’t bring in the amounts that Maldonado did.

  46. Very charitable article, this…

Comments are closed.