The Spanish Grand Prix changed all of that, and with Maldonado not just a Grand Prix winner with a stunning, perfect drive making him something of a fairytale success for the team, not to mention a national hero back home, the Venezuelan is suddenly too big a star for Williams to lose anytime soon.
The pressure on Senna showed on Saturday when he found himself pushing too hard in the first round of qualifying and spinning off into the gravel, meaning he started in 17th position on the grid while Maldonado made it onto pole.
And while Maldonado went on to win the race at the Circuit de Catalunya, Senna's weekend ended as early as lap 12 when he was rear-ended by Michael Schumacher. Schumacher got a five-place grid penalty in Monaco for causing the accident, but even so getting blasted on live TV by a multiple former world champion didn't exactly do Senna's standing any favours.
"It has been a disappointing weekend for me on the whole," admitted Senna after the race. "Schumacher got a big DRS boost coming down the straight and went into the back of me. These weekends with lots of bad luck happen sometimes."
They might, but it couldn't have been a worse combination of factors and timing for him. All of this points to Senna as being the driver out in the cold at the end of 2012 when his one year contract with the team expires, leaving Bottas to take a full time seat and Maldonado as the proven race-winning team leader.
The story of Williams' weekend shows just how much can happen and how stars can rise and fall in the course of four days.