The United States Grand Prix was not pleasant for Pastor Maldonado of Williams. In the days leading up to the race weekend, the Venezuelan revealed that he would be leaving his team after three difficult years. I guess he forgot his impressive win in Spain last year ahead of Fernando Alonso and several near-podium finishes.
Williams’ trials and tribulations have been well documented this season. Up until the race in Austin, the Grove-based outfit had scored just a solitary point thanks to Nico Rosberg‘s retirement in Hungary. Besides that, 2013 was a painful narrative of obscurity and futile attempts at progress.
But that all changed in Austin, at least for his teammate Valtteri Bottas. As the Finnish rookie starred and finished eighth, Maldonado struggled to make any impression, qualifying two and a half seconds off the pace of his teammate and finishing the race out of the points.
The weekend was so difficult that at one point after qualifying, Maldonado suggested that members of his team were sabotaging his car. This is clearly untrue, as Williams is one of the most respected and revered teams in the history of the sport. Maldonado apologized for his statements after the race, but there is no denying they had an effect on the team.
Suggestions even arose that the team could drop Maldonado for the last race of the season in favor of one of their development drivers. This scenario looks unlikely now as the team have resolved their differences, but the glaringly obvious lack of respect Maldonado showed in Austin should immediately raise a red flag for any team thinking of signing him for 2014.
His money speaks volumes (all $40 million of it), but that cannot take the place of decency and respect. Lotus are known to have an eye on Maldonado’s millions as their deal with the Middle East consortium Quantum Motorsports looks shaky at best. But if this blatant disregard for respect towards your employer is a regular occurrence, then certainly it must be taken into consideration when signing a driver.
This has been far from an easy year for Williams. 2012 was a revelation for the team, with victory in Spain and several other promising performances improving morale significantly after a similarly difficult 2011. But, Maldonado’s attitude this season has revealed an unbecoming immaturity from the Venezuelan. Should any potential employer expect this type of attitude every single time the going gets tough?
Nothing is guaranteed in Formula One, especially competitiveness, so difficult times are going to happen. There is no getting around the fact.
Maldonado’s reputation has been seriously dented in the past few days. Unfortunately, though, it looks like his money will do the talking for him as the season draws to a close. On second thought, perhaps that is for the best.