Formula 1: Is Pastor Maldonado Malicious, Incompetent or Just Misunderstood?

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Formula 1: Is Pastor Maldonado Malicious, Incompetent or Just Misunderstood?
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Oops, I did it again!

It will come as no surprise to anyone who watches Formula One racing that the FIA is barking mad.

There are innumerable examples of wacky decisions that underscore that particular conclusion; however, the one in question this time is the logic that the appropriate punishment for serial wrecker, Pastor Maldonado, would be to fine him €25,000.

Formula1.com reports the decision as “Maldonado was adjudged to have caused his collision with Sergio Perez, which led to the Sauber driver’s retirement, and due to the seriousness of the incident received a double penalty in the form of a reprimand and a 25,000 euro fine.”

A double penalty! A reprimand is no penalty and €25,000 in the multi-million dollar world of F1 is manifestly ridiculous.

Kamui Kobayashi’s €10,000 fine for running over half of his team seems equally light, but Kobayashi has to work with the guys he ran over so no doubt they’ll make him pay in other ways.

Maldonado has developed an unenviable reputation in F1.

Starting in 2011—his first season in F1—his penchant for running into other drivers was first exposed.

In qualifying for the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, Maldonado was clipped by a charging Lewis Hamilton at the famous bus-stop chicane. There didn’t seem to be much in it, but Maldonado was somewhat aggrieved and took it upon himself to ram Hamilton’s car on the in-lap.

So, which is it?

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While some saw Maldonado’s action as retribution for Hamilton’s ill-judged overtaking attempt in Monaco that saw Maldonado cheated of his first points finish in F1, but no matter the reason it was inexcusable.

 

At Monaco 2012, Maldonado hit Sergio Perez after he perceived that Perez held him up in free practice in what may have been an ill-conceived attempt to cut him off.

Then we have the effort in Valencia where he rammed Hamilton after a failed overtaking manoeuvre saw Maldonado run off the track.

Now we have yet another incident in which Maldonado has taken out a competitor.

At least this collision with Sergio Perez smacked of incompetence as opposed to malice, but it was incompetence borne of an inability to accept being overtaken.

While Lewis Hamilton has steadfastly refused to criticise Maldonado—despite his obvious anger after the collision in Valencia—Sergio Perez, on the other hand, has no such reservations.

"He's a very dangerous driver and he can hurt someone," Perez told BBC Sport. "He's just a stupid driver."

Unsurprisingly, Maldonado can’t see that he’s done anything wrong. On the latest Perez incident he said "I tried to defend and lost the rear of the car on corner entry and we bumped tyres. It was an unlucky race for me and that is it," according to BBC Sport.

On the Valencia incident he told the Mail Online:

I braked on the clean side, but he started to push me off the track. I tried to avoid the accident, but I took the kerb and jumped over him. He made a very aggressive move on me. He tried to put me off the track, which was a big risk for him at the time.

 

This is a man who makes the Large Hadron Collider look like an underachiever.

The latest penalty is manifestly inadequate. Monetary fines mean nothing and a reprimand makes a slap on the wrist look vicious.

While the behaviour continues, for some reason the FIA thinks that softening the penalties is the best way to go.

For the Spa incident he received a five-spot grid penalty, in Monaco this year he received a 10-place grid penalty, for Valencia it was a drive-through and for his latest effort a reprimand and a fine.

Contrast that with Hamilton losing 24 grid places for running out of petrol.

There’s something wrong with the logic.

The FIA now needs to do something to stop this before someone gets hurt. A Formula One car isn’t a weapon and anyone who uses it as such has no place in the sport.

Maldonado is either malicious or incompetent and either of those is dangerous. It’s time the FIA treated him appropriately.

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