Whether Pastor Maldonado's blatant early getaway at the Belgian Grand Prix
caused the first corner pile-up that followed is unlikely, but the error cast another black mark against the Venezuelan's up-and-down season.
Maldonado topped the penalty charts in his debut season last year, and is well on his way to repeating the 'feat' in 2012 after picking up now fewer than three censures at Spa-Francorchamps. Having qualified third fastest, Maldonado was relegated three places for allegedly blocking Nico Rosberg
during the session - a penalty apparently reduced by the stewards - but then picked up two five-place punishments in the space of a few laps after jumping the start and later colliding with Marussia's Timo Glock
on the restart.
While the Williams
team were happy with the Spanish Grand Prix
winner's early weekend performance, they made it clear that it was his fault that the FW34 took off before the lights had gone out.
"We were very pleased with Pastor's qualifying as he drove exceptionally well, pushing the car to the limit," chief operations engineer Mark Gillan confirmed, "However, he jumped the start as his fingers slipped from the clutch paddle by mistake....."
The Belgian weekend turned to frustration for Williams
after that, as Bruno Senna's grid position effectively prevented him from adding to his recent points haul, although the Brazilian did set the fastest lap of the race on his way to a twelfth place that could have been so much better but for a puncture suffered five laps from home.
"Our race pace on Sunday was not as good as we would have liked, and we need to investigate this a bit further," Gillan admitted, "With both Friday sessions being fully wet, we effectively had to squeeze three sessions' work into one, which made for a very busy one hour period during FP3. However, it was the same for everyone and we were pleased with what we achieved in preparing the cars for both the qualifying and race
"Unfortunately Bruno's qualifying was hampered by a spin and a subsequent aerodynamic loss on the next run as a result of a damaged front wing. [In the race] the rear right tyre had a number of cuts on it, which was likely to have been the result of earlier contact. His engineering team noticed the tyre deflation very quickly in the telemetry data and we were able to get Bruno back to the pits without further damaging the car for a change to new tyres."
With the final European round of the season less than a week away in Italy, avoiding unnecessary damage was important for the team, and Gillan remains confident that both drivers can be in the mix for points at Monza.
"The [Belgian] weekend promised a lot, so to come away with no points is disappointing," he conceded, "However, I am proud of the effort that the whole team has put in over this difficult weekend and, whilst we ultimately didn't score points, we have learnt a lot and should therefore be stronger in Monza as a result of this. We are aiming to get both cars home in the points and, provided we have a trouble-free weekend, there are no reasons why this cannot be achieved."