27 May 2012
Maldonado to start Monaco from back of grid
Pastor Maldonado will see an F1 start from the opposite end of the grid to Barcelona after being sent to the back of the field by the stewards.
Spanish grand prix polesitter and race winner Pastor Maldonado will taste life from the other end of the spectrum in Monaco after receiving two penalties in the space of twelve hours that will consign him to the rear of the grid for the hardest race of the year.
The Venezuelan entered qualifying on Saturday afternoon staring a ten-place grid drop for his part in a collision with Sergio Perez at Portier during final practice earlier in the day but, having gone some way to limiting the damage by making it through to the final phase of the session, was then told that his Williams would need to have its gearbox changed before Sunday's race.
Although he managed to get through the hour-long qualifying programme without a problem, it is thought that a second accident in FP3 - when he collected the barriers on both sides of the road at Casino Square - was severe enough to damage the gearbox.
"The car had a lot of damage in it, to the point where we are having to change the gearbox," the team confirmed to reporters, "There was a significant amount of damage to the car, so the guys did a really good job to even get it out for qualifying."
The additional five-place punishment for the unscheduled change was added to Maldonado's eventual 19th grid slot, dropping to 24th and last at a circuit where, a moment of World Series by Renault madness aside, he has traditionally done well.
The accident with Perez came in the closing moments of final practice on Saturday morning, when Maldonado was attempting to pass the Sauber driver heading towards the tunnel. Although Perez appeared to slow and pull to the right in order for his rival to pass, Maldonado then turned into the Mexican on a trajectory that would have seen him hit the barriers had the other car not been there. Unsurprisingly, the race stewards, this week including 1992 world champion - and former Williams driver - Nigel Mansell, ruled it 'an avoidable collision', blaming Maldonado.
The Venezuelan, however, insists that he had simply made a mistake and was not, as some have suggested, dishing out retribution for an earlier incident.
"It was a mistake from my side because I lost the car," he conceded to Sky Sports, "I was trying to pass Perez quite quick, [but was on] cold tyres - it was the out lap - and I lost a little bit the car. I was trying to recover the car and, when I recovered the car, I touched Perez. I was completely in the oversteer and, when I recovered the car, the tyres took too much of the grip and I touched Perez. Maybe I needed to back off a little bit, but I was trying to do my best and that's it."
The Barcelona racewinner also deemed his subsequent accident at Casino to be the result of a mistake, rather than caused by the impact with Perez.
Ironically, he will now be starting the race alongside his victim, who crashed out in the opening phase of qualifying before being able to set a time. Neither Perez or Sauber has chosen to comment on whether that incident had been caused by damage inflicted by Maldonado in FP3.
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