Pastor Maldonado – 21
Rookie Williams driver Pastor Maldonado began his season badly when through no fault of his own he retired from both the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix. He was not well-received by fans at first because of his displacement of Brazil polesitter Nico Hulkenberg, and he also has a reputation for crashing. This reputation isn’t really deserved; though he’s had some spins and smashes in practice, recently his driving style has improved.
A good qualifier, Pastor has been able to push the Williams better than Barrichello on Saturdays and has managed to get the car into Q3 on three occasions. However, he has also sometimes had trouble – probably more because of the car than himself – to get out of Q1. He was the fall guy in Malaysia, and in China and Hungary he has qualified 17th.
In the races, however, Pastor has struggled. The Hungarian Grand Prix was the first time the Venezuelan has finished in a better position that when he started – 16th from 17th. But in Monaco he was on course for a points finish until a close call with Lewis Hamilton put him in the wall. Lewis got a penalty for that, which irritated the Brit somewhat.
Apart from his Monaco problems, however, Pastor has not finished higher than 14th in a race. He has achieved that twice, and also has a fifteenth place finish and a sixteenth which puts him ahead of d’Ambrosio. Apart from Monaco, Australia and China, Pastor has also caused himself one retirement. This was at the Canadian Grand Prix, when he spun off.
He’s been unlucky in that the car that doesn’t meet the performance of 2010’s Williams. But he’s set to continue into 2012 with the team, and probably with Rubens Barrichello the most experienced F1 driver ever. Hopefully the new engine deal should help make the guys work harder to build a better car.
Worst qualifying: 18
Best qualifying: 7
Worst finish: 18 (China, Monaco, Valencia)
Best finish: 14 (Britain, Germany)
Average difference: -4.36
Laps completed: 562/681 (83%)
Average race position: 14.33 (Best: 7.6 Monaco; Worst: 18.7 Valencia)