Many people thought that May's victory in the Spanish Grand Prix as the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona was a turning point in the career of Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, but that belief may have been a little premature.
On that afternoon, the Venezuelan held off both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen to claim an emotional, if unexpected, win for Williams - its first since Juan Pablo Montoya triumphed in Brazil in 2004 - although the landmark was subsequently overshadowed by the fire that engulfed the pit garage during post-race celebrations. While Maldonado's success prompted suggestions that he had exhibited a calmer, perhaps more cerebral, side to his racing, however, that has not been as evident in the four races that have followed.
The 2010 GP2 Series champion went from hero to zero within the space of a fortnight after colliding with Sergio Perez in final free practice in Monaco, earning himself a grid penalty that ultimately put him in position to hit the back of Pedro de la Rosa's HRT in the traditional Ste Devote melee and be the race's first casualty. Then, as he appeared poised to make it through to Q3 in Canada, Maldonado found the Wall of Champions, ending his lap shy of qualification and prompting another scoreless race. Valencia also promised better, with a potential podium on the cards before he met resistance from Lewis Hamilton that saw the Briton in the tyre barriers and his adversary penalised - again - for contact. Silverstone also ended without adding to his tally, after again finding Perez occupying the piece of road that he felt ought to have been his. Whilst that was more a racing accident than their meeting in Monaco, however, it underlined the wild side that a lot of people hold against the Venezuelan.
His time in GP2 - and he spent five years there attempting to make the grade for F1 remember - was also punctuated with incidents, earning Maldonado a 'win it or bin it' reputation amongst his often sublime Monaco form. Before that, there was the infamous suspension he earned while competing in the Principality in the World Series and even his maiden year in the top flight was not without controversy, notably the swerve at Lewis Hamilton during Belgian GP qualifying.
But, to counter all that, there is no doubt that Maldonado has the ability to pedal an F1 car extremely quickly.
Having been saddled with a dog of a Williams in 2011, he now has a ride that he can take advantage of, putting himself in the right place to inherit Hamilton's pole and set up that famous victory in Barcelona, as well as putting the FW34 a merited third on the grid for the Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia.
And who can overlook his record-breaking run of success en route
to the GP2 title in 2010 - in a series where the machinery is supposedly equal, allowing the driver to shine.
Among his rivals that year? Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean - neither of whom is proving too shabby in F1 this season....
So it begs the question: Is Pastor Maldonado mad or much maligned?
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