Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

Maldonado penalised twice as often as any other driver

2016 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pastor Maldonado’s place at Renault in the upcoming season may be under threat as the financial backing he receives from sponsor PDVSA is in doubt.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil producer was invested in Maldonado’s career long before he joined F1 and has continued to back him ever since, during which time he has become one of the sport’s most controversial drivers.

Maldonado has developed a reputation for being incident-prone and has an unenviable reputation before F1’s stewards. As the analysis by F1 Fanatic below shows, he has incurred more than twice as many penalties as any other driver over the course of his 95-race F1 career.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012
Maldonado earned ten penalties in 2012
According to Maldonado, this is because the stewards treat him more harshly than other drivers. “Sometimes with me they are a bit harder,” he said last December, adding that “other drivers crash and have incidents, nothing happens.”

However as the data below shows such collisions account for less than half of the penalties Maldonado has received. Speeding, Safety Car infractions and impeding account for some of his other penalties.

Arguably, Maldonado has not always been punished as harshly as he might have for some of his incidents. His 2012 collision with Sergio Perez at Silverstone was deemed “serious” enough by the stewards to merit two penalties, yet he escaped any immediate sporting sanction, being given a fine and a reprimand instead.

Maldonado’s driving has increasingly attracted the ire of his fellow drivers. Jenson Button accused Maldonado of trying to drive him off the track in Singapore last year and branded him a “nutter” and “mental” on team radio on separate occasions during the season.

“The guy tried to kill me” exclaimed Jean-Eric Vergne after the pair tangled at Bahrain in 2014 – later in the race Maldonado flipped Esteban Gutierrez onto his roll hoop.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Maldonado’s disciplinary record is that he tends to be involved in more incidents when he has a competitive car at his disposal. Last year he collected eight, and with a race-winning Williams at his disposal in 2012 he made it into double figures.

Several other drivers haven’t racked up ten penalties over the last five years, let alone in a single season. While his Spanish Grand Prix victory that year remains the shining moment in his career, the litany of incidents calls into question whether he has the temperament to handle bring in regular contention at the front of the field.

Maldonado, however, continues to see little wrong with his driving. Asked about his most recent incident, a tangle with Marcus Ericsson at Interlagos, he replied “rubbing’s racing”.

Whether he’s right or wrong, it remains to be seen whether he’ll get to do any more of either in F1 this year.

Most penalised drivers, 2011-2015

Data based on penalties for which the driver was considerably principally responsible, excluding power unit component changes, gearbox changes and similar penalties.

Pastor Maldonado’s penalties, 2011-2015

Year Round Team Session Allegation Incident involving Penalty Reason
2011 4 Williams Race Pit lane speeding Drive-through penalty
2011 12 Williams Qualifying Caused a collision Lewis Hamilton Five-place grid drop
2012 3 Williams Qualifying Impeding Heikki Kovalainen Reprimand
2012 6 Williams Practice 3 Caused a collision Sergio Perez Ten-place grid drop
2012 8 Williams Race Caused a collision Lewis Hamilton Drive-through penalty The driver failed to rejoin the track in a safe manner.
2012 8 Williams Race Caused a collision Lewis Hamilton Drive-through penalty The driver failed to rejoin the track in a safe manner.
2012 9 Williams Race Caused a collision Sergio Perez €10,000 fine, reprimand In view of the serious nature of the incident the Stewards have decided under Article 18.1 to apply two penalties.
2012 11 Williams Race Caused a collision Paul di Resta Drive-through penalty
2012 12 Williams Qualifying Impeding Nico Hulkenberg Three-place grid drop The driver of Car 18 was warned by his team not to ‘hold up’ Car 12 which was behind him, yet he clearly did impede Car 12. However as Car 12 continued into Q2 a more severe penalty was not considered appropriate.
2012 12 Williams Race Jump start Five-place grid drop The driver failed to finish the race so the usual penalty for a false start could not be imposed.
2012 12 Williams Race Caused a collision Timo Glock Five-place grid drop
2012 20 Williams Qualifying Did not stop for weighing Reprimand The driver failed to proceed directly to the FIA garage when signalled to do so.
2012 20 Williams Q Accrued three reprimands Ten-place grid drop
2013 5 Williams Race Pit lane speeding Drive-through penalty
2013 7 Williams Race Caused a collision Adrian Sutil Drive-through penalty Car 16 (Maldonado) drove into the rear of car 15 at turn 10.
2013 11 Williams Race Caused a collision Paul di Resta Ten-second stop-go penalty
2014 3 Lotus Race Collision Esteban Gutierrez Ten-second stop-go penalty, five-place grid drop, three penalty points
2014 5 Lotus Race Collision Marcus Ericsson Five-second time penalty, one penalty point
2014 7 Lotus Qualifying Left car without replacing steering wheel Reprimand The stewards noted that the car was not left in a dangerous position on the track and therefore a reprimand was appropriate.
2014 15 Lotus Race Pit lane speeding Drive-through penalty
2014 17 Lotus Race Safety Car speeding Five-second time penalty, one penalty point
2014 17 Lotus Race Pit lane speeding Five-second time penalty
2015 2 Lotus Race Safety Car speeding Ten-second time penalty, three penalty points The driver failed to stay above the required time set by the FIA ECU during the deployment of the Safety Car.
2015 4 Lotus Race Out of position on the grid Five-second time penalty
2015 9 Lotus Qualifying Left the track Lap time deleted
2015 10 Lotus Race Caused an incident Sergio Perez Drive-through penalty, two penalty points Car 13 caused the collision with car 11.
2015 10 Lotus Race Pit lane speeding Drive-through penalty
2015 10 Lotus Race Overtook under the Safety Car Will Stevens Ten-second time penalty Car 13 overtook car 28 before reaching the Safety Car One line at the end of the Safety Car period.
2015 18 Lotus Race Caused an incident Marcus Ericsson Five second time penalty, one penalty point Car 13 collided with car 9 in turn one.

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles