If you have been looking to brush up on your knowledge on Pastor Maldonado in Google, you will likely have stumbled across an enormous amount of anti-fan sites. Probably one of F1’s least popular drivers of all time, Maldonado has become an internet meme due to his prominent eyebrows, sullen appearance and tendency to crash his car.
His driving style is most commonly described as “erratic”. Ok, there is no way around it. Pastor Maldonado crashes. A lot. While only fools (and there are surprisingly many out there) would deny the Venezuelan has speed, he also has a pretty abysmal DNF record. Quite a few incidents have seen him unfortunate enough to take out other cars but most of the jokes spring from his spectacular solo-accidents in completely random and unprovoked situations. Some kind soul has even created a website to help us all keep track: hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com Thankfully, Pastor has an unusually well developed sense of humour and has admitted that he himself thinks some of the memes are quite funny.
He was close friends with Hugo Chavez. Pastor Maldonado had a very close friendship with Venezuelas former president, Hugo Chavez. Chavez encouraged a young Maldonado to get into F1 and when the president passed away in 2014, Maldonado was among those carrying the coffin. Maldonado himself is an outspoken socialist whom actively partake in the political discussion.
Maldonado is sponsored by PDVSA. If you ever hear Maldonado described as a “Pay Driver” this is most likely attributed to the £35 million which he brings with him from his personal sponsors PDVSA, Venezuelas state-owned oil refinery. When Lotus picked Maldonado over Nico Hulkenberg in 2014, Lotus admitted that a big factor had been the difference in sponsorship money each driver were able to provide. In addition to PDVSA, Maldonado is also sponsored by the country of Venezuela itself.
He drove for Williams. And then he didn’t. Whether you attribute it to southern temperament or not, it is worth mentioning that Maldonardo had an spectacular Alonso-style paddy towards the end of his relationship with Williams in 2013. Maldonado accused the team of sabotaging his car and Claire Williams was forced to step in and deny this. She went on to attribute the outburst to post-qualifying adrenalin and frustrations at seeing his team mate Valtteri Bottas 17 places ahead. This episode stands in stark contrast to Barcelona 2012, where Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix, ending an 8-year winning draught for the Williams outfit.
He got banned from racing in Monaco for life. Racing in the Renault World Series in 2005, Maldonado crashed into a group of marshals who were clearing away another car. Yellow flags were flying, showing drivers to slow down, but the young Venezuelan ignored the warning and subsequently lost control of his car. One of the marshals broke his spine and Maldonado was banned from racing in the municipality for life. His father managed to step in and the ban was lifted only after Maldonado Snr promised to pay generous compensations as well as the injured marshal’s rehabilitation bill.