Mika Salo, a veteran of eight years of F1 competition with teams including Tyrell, Arrows, BAR, Sauber and Ferrari, says that F1's new 'bad boy' Pastor Maldonado needs to learn when to fight and when to back down.
Maldonado was involved in a clash with Sergio Perez early in the British Grand Prix for which he received a reprimand and a 10,000 euro penalty, just two weeks after he was also penalised 20 seconds at Valencia for crashing into Lewis Hamilton and putting the McLaren driver out of the race.
Perez had been furious about this latest incident, which had put him out of the race on Sunday. "He's a very dangerous driver and he can hurt someone," Perez told BBC Sport.
"He's just a stupid driver." Maldonado for his part said that the accident had been caused by a problem with losing grip on cold tyres immediately after a pit stop, and that the telemetry from the car supported this.
Salo had been one of the race stewards at Valencia and therefore had recent close-up experience of analysing Maldonado's driving. The Finnish driver told Crash.net
that the key to the penalty that Maldonado had received was evidence from an earlier lap.
“If you look at the previous lap, Kimi Raikkonen was in a similar situation and he backed off, not to cause an accident," said Salo.
The problem with Maldonado, then, appears to be the Venezuelan's perceived lack of judgement to know when to give ground with grace.
Such questions started after qualifying for last year's Belgian Grand Prix, during which Maldonado appeared to seek retribution against Lewis Hamilton for earlier contact by ramming into the McLaren on the in-lap. Maldonado seemed to take a similar retaliatory strike against Sergio Perez during qualifying for this year's Monaco GP in May.
Then there was the incident at Valencia, which Maldonado said had been caused by Hamilton's aggressive defending and by his own Williams losing grip when it was forced wide and over the curbing. Add to that the latest incident, which Maldonado blamed on cold tyres and bad luck.
Hamilton has kept out of publicly criticising Maldonado in the media, but that's not been the case with Sauber's Sergio Perez after Silverstone.