Friday , 21 July 2017

Pastor Maldonado and the never changing reputation

Reputations are everything in Formula One. Away from the sport, it takes ages to build a reputation and seconds to damage it.

In Formula One, it takes a second to build a reputation. Yet it is almost impossible to shake it off.

Ask Pastor Maldonado.

When the Venezuelan entered the sport in 2011, he already had a reputation for being reckless after hitting a marshal while competing in World Series by Renault at Monaco.

He was given a four-race ban for the incident.

His reputation followed him to F1, when an incident with Lewis Hamilton ended his race. And the reputation grew when Maldonado and Hamilton collided again, this time in qualifying in Spa.

And there are numerous other incidents that could be mentioned that involve Maldonado. But it was the one in China with Jenson Button that irked this writer the most.

It led to the BBC writing this article:

BBC F1 article on Pastor Maldonado
BBC F1 headline on Pastor Maldonado

And Sky Sports F1 said this in their not-very-fair driver ratings:

Pastor rating
Sky Sports F1 gave Maldonado a rating of minus one out of ten… with no explanation

 

Both of these pieces of journalism show how Maldonado won’t be able to shake his reputation, a reputation that leads to the name ‘Crashtor Maldonado’.

The fact that the two Formula One broadcasters in the UK felt the need to slate him for doing nothing says it all.

While he may not have finished in any of his last four races – his last finish being Brazil 2014 – none of these were his fault.

At the season finale in Abu Dhabi, he had a power unit problem. In the opening race of the season, he was an innocent victim of a crash between Felipe Nasr, Kimi Raikkonen and himself.

In Malaysia, he had a brake problem while it seemed he had a repeat of that in China before the collision with Button.

Maldonado is not helped by his pay driver status.

But people seem to forget that, in 2012, he put Williams back on the top step of the podium. In a car that was not the fastest.

And he was hunted down, all race, by Fernando Alonso.

You do not win a race against Alonso, at his home Grand Prix, by being an average pay driver.

Maldonado may be involved in more collisions than average, but it does not mean it is his fault.
Drivers can change – just look at his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean. Once considered a ‘first lap nutcase’ by Mark Webber, and also served a race ban for causing a collision, the Frenchman is now one of the highest-rated drivers on the grid.

Maldonado may have only scored in eight of 80 GPs, but look at the bigger picture. In three of those years – 2011, 2013 and 2014 – he was driving a car that could barely finish in the points.

His teammate in 2011, Rubens Barrichello, scored points twice compared to Maldonado’s once. Valtteri Bottas, in 2012, scored points once. Romain Grosjean, in 2014, scored points twice.

On top of the points scoring ratio, Maldonado has had 26 DNFs. But how many were his fault? A quick bit of research says it was eight of these – 25%. Eleven of these were accidents, with eight being blamed on Pastor – with or without another car involved.

And his last nine DNFs? Two accidents, of which neither were his fault, and seven car failures.

Pastor DNFs

People need to stop looking at the past and look at the present.

Reputations should be built over time, not over a second. And they should be able to change.

About Jack Amey

Recent sport journalism graduate looking to break into the world of journalism. Usually found writing about Formula E or F1 opinion pieces here, or making a match day programme for a local club. Or looking for a job.

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2 comments

  1. Interesting post, and I agree Maldonado is unfairly blamed for accidents that aren’t his fault. People let his reputation cloud their judgement. However, a few points worth noting.

    Maldonado has received more driving penalties than any other driver during his time in F1. There was also a recent post on Reddit that listed more than 50 incidents he has been involved in, and although he wasn’t to blame for all of them, the majority were still his doing. He might have a bad reputation but the raw numbers back that up (and I know a stat man loves raw numbers). Importantly, the Chinese GP showed those careless mistakes just aren’t in his past because he made two very basic and costly rookie errors before the crash with Button – which would explain his poor SkyF1 rating.

    Also, the nature of Maldonado’s accidents – intentionally crashing into Hamilton at Spa & Perez at Monaco – play a big role in his reputation. All drivers make mistakes, but there aren’t many who maliciously create unsporting accidents outside racing conditions like that.

    So yes, Maldonado is subject to unfair headlines sometimes, but the volume, frequency, and nature of his accidents, plus the fact they are still happening, can’t be discounted when discussing his reputation.

    • I’m not suggesting Maldonado is the best driver on the grid, far from it. But the treatment he gets from various media in this country – two examples in the article – suggest he’s at fault for everything he’s involved in.

      He said he had a brake problem which caused him to overshoot the pit entrance (according to BBC).

      I did mention that he’s been involved in a lot of incidents and stats are easy to twist to make someone sound better or worse than they are. 50 incidents? Sure, but how many were actually his fault?

      As the article says, in F1 it takes a second to build a reputation and you can’t shake it off.

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