Maldonado “deserves his opportunity”, says Head

2011 F1 season

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Patrick Head has defended Williams’ new driver for 2011, Pastor Maldonado.

The team faced criticism after dropping Nico H?â??lkenberg for Maldonado, despite a promising performance by H?â??lkenberg in his debut season including a pole position in Brazil.

Maldonado brings sponsorship from Venezuelan state petroleum company PDVSA.

Head wrote in a column for “Motorsport”:

Alongside Rubens will be Pastor Maldonado, who won the 2010 GP2 Championship with more victories than any previous champion.

He comes with some financial support, but deserves his opportunity on merit.
Patrick Head

Williams have retained lead driver Rubens Barrichello but several of their major sponsorship deals including RBS expired at the end of last year.

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53 comments on Maldonado “deserves his opportunity”, says Head

  1. daykind (@) said on 10th January 2011, 16:47

    Well, I think he does deserve an oppurtunity, more than Hulkenberg.

  2. Hmmmm, he may have the most GP2 wins, but he has been in it for quite some time now…….

    I personally think he’ll do about as well as Hulkenburg, and if that’s good enough for Williams then I suppose no-one can complain, but it’s certainly influenced by the PDVSA money IMO

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th January 2011, 16:55

      he may have the most GP2 wins, but he has been in it for quite some time now

      True but I think Head means he had the most wins in a single season. Off the top of my head he had six, and they were all feature races too.

      • luigismen said on 10th January 2011, 17:05

        …and they all were in feature races in a row!
        He totally deserves it

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th January 2011, 17:24

        I actually think him being in GP2 for several years might prove something of an advantage to Maldonado.
        He did learn to be a bit less reckles on track and get the car home. Possibly it is a bit like drivers used to mature in F2 and back of grid teams in years gone by.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 10th January 2011, 21:54

          I agree. HĂĽlkenberg was impressive at times last year, but he was a bit of a wildcard. Maldonado may not end up with HĂĽlk’s ultimate speed, but I think he’ll be more predictable…

  3. TED BELL said on 10th January 2011, 17:03

    Has the path to driving an F1 car become all about money along with some success in the junior racing ??
    Seems like a number of teams now survive on the fat wallets of pretty good drivers and often that once in a generation drivers may miss their chance simply for lack of sponsor funding.
    Its all about MONEY…ask Bernie

    • George (@george) said on 10th January 2011, 18:16

      Has the path to driving an F1 car become all about money along with some success in the junior racing ??

      Isn’t that how it’s always been?

      • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 10th January 2011, 22:08

        pretty much, yeah.

      • Not entirely, It used be only for the very poorest teams, I mean, even Minardi managed to resist enough to give drivers like Webber and Alonso a shot. When a proper historic team like Williams is in this position you know F1 is getting itself into trouble.

        • Klon (@klon) said on 11th January 2011, 4:21

          And both Webber and Alonso brought some sponsorship when they came to Minardi, so it’s not like they have no experience at all with paying to drive.

          Face it, unless F1 introduces a budget cap, we will always have drivers who must find sponsorship before they can enter F1.

  4. Lee Harrison (@lee-harrison) said on 10th January 2011, 17:05

    People should give the guy a break, he clearly has talent, you don’t win GP2 races by accident, give him a chance to see how he does before we judge him.

    • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 10th January 2011, 17:20

      I think this too. If Maldonado turns out to be terrible though he will be eaten alive by the press as will Williams. This is why I don’t really understand the purpose of these comments. Surely it would be best for Williams to just admit that they took a driver because of a paycheque? I suppose though thats an admission that Williams are struggling, which they have been denying for years now

  5. Pat Condell said on 10th January 2011, 17:11

    Whats baffling about the statement by Patrick Head for me is if this is being told by Maldnado himself then why doesn’t he just go the whole hog and say he was promised a 2011 seat for his troubles.
    It’s effectiveness is in it’s plausability, although Maldonado & his sponsorships admitted effecting the outcome of the race-seat, he has some sympathy in so much as it’s “The big bad wolf Hulk” V’s “Bullied little Maldonado” But although we all know its not that simple, that will be a lot of peoples perception, Sir Frank & Head have done themselves no favours in being so one-sided in their driver management that Maldono deserves to be hired. Personally I think Sir Frank and Head are guilty at some level, but proving it will be very difficult. Or Maybe this is his last shot. Probably after his bad result with Williams, any team will take him as well. I don’t know. I’m just trying to make some empathy.

  6. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th January 2011, 17:33

    He comes with some financial support, but deserves his opportunity on merit.

    Sounds like someone is trying to convince himself!

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th January 2011, 17:40

      Well, actually, that’s a little harsh. He does deserve a chance, but think of people like di Grassi who will miss out this year, people who beat Maldonado in 2009. “Even” Romain Grosjean was better than him.

      • Scribe (@scribe) said on 10th January 2011, 19:30

        You know, I really hope Grosjean wins the GP2 title or something and gets his chance in F1, I don’t think the awful time he experianced at Renault is his fault. An there were flashes.

        He’s well and truly proven himself this year though, does anyone know whats happening to him next year?

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th January 2011, 21:13

          I bet he’ll still be working at the bank! He was still doing that even when he was in F1, incredible really. I think he’s going to stay in sportscar racing unless he pops up by surprise in the last of the teams’ announcements.

      • Don Mateo said on 11th January 2011, 16:43

        I don’t know, the last couple of seasons are littered with drivers like Grosjean and Di Grassi who completed one season, or even just part of one, before being sent on their way and being replaced by another GP2 graduate. It’s difficult to tell who really deserved to have stayed as none of them ever really had long enough to prove themselves.

  7. I think he deserves an opportunity in F1 and if he wasn’t bringing any sponsorship with him I don’t think people would be surprised if he had got a race seat for 2011.

    However I still think that if money wasn’t a factor at all Williams would have probably kept Hulkenberg.

  8. Jacob said on 10th January 2011, 18:12

    With all those sponsors leaving, we could see a very different livery from Williams in 2011. It’s been mostly the same (blue and white) for the past few seasons! :)

  9. joac21 (@joac21) said on 10th January 2011, 18:23

    i hope that when the CVC deal is renegotiated in 2013 teams will have more money and pay drivers will be reduced

  10. SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 10th January 2011, 18:58

    GP2 champion and tons of sponsorship. It’s win-win for Williams.

  11. Icemangrins said on 10th January 2011, 19:52

    I guess this air will clear by the end of 2011 or may be even 2012 when most of the big boys retire & leave the sport. F1 will see fresh faces in the likes of Hulk, Lucas Di Grassi and even Karun….

    Narain’s come back still puzzles me *grin*

  12. With Head’s comments and Michael’s past ones it just seems like Williams are trying to convince themselves more than anything and are getting very wound up. They should just ignore the press as they’ve been in this game long enough but they’re hurting and they know it. Maldonando should be given a chance before he’s written off but it’s going to take a lot for him to show he’s better than Hulkenberg. Williams may need the cash and I really sympathise with them but if Nico ends up without a seat and Maldonando doesn’t deliver then people may be quick to forget their financial situation and as why a potential star is watching on the sidelines.

  13. The Limit said on 10th January 2011, 20:33

    I am going to postpone judgement on Maldonado until the end of 2011. If he really is as good as Patrick Head claims, then it will make Williams decision to drop Hulkenberg look like genious. If Maldonado turns out to be a flop, then Williams still walk away with millions of dollars worth of sponsorship cash they would not have got with Hulkenberg. Sad but true.

  14. bob80 said on 10th January 2011, 20:36

    Pay driver is a little too strong description but teams should at least admit that drivers like Maldonado and Petrov wouldn’t be on 2011 grid without financial backing. They instead treat F1 fans like fools.

  15. Andrew White said on 10th January 2011, 21:23

    I say give him a chance. He may have been in GP2 for a while but you can’t exactly count that against him. He has a lot of experience in one of the closest series to F1 and he won it pretty convincingly. Don’t forget Hulkenberg’s season was very underwhelming given his CV before F1, but that pole position seems to have clouded people’s judgment.

    • snowman said on 10th January 2011, 22:20

      Totally agree, way everyone keeps talking about Hulkenberg you’d think he’s the next Senna. He was beat most the season by Barrichello. If his team mate was Hamilton or Alonso he would have been completely dominated.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 10th January 2011, 23:47

      Hulkenberg was one of the very few rookies who actually managed to impress in his first season.

      THAT’s why people say Hulkenberg did a good job.

      At the end of the season at least he was competitive with Barrichello. Now look at Petrov who was still a over a second down in qualifying on petrov in the last few races.

      • Jimmy (@jimmy) said on 11th January 2011, 3:17

        I’m going to disagree on the Petrov part. Renault has a history of focusing on their first driver, so I don’t think Petrov really did that bad a job people might think.

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