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.

"Pastor - he's a driver who doesn't respect other drivers," summed up a still-seething Mexican after the latest incident. "Everybody is concerned about him. He's a driver who doesn't respect, doesn't know we are risking our lives and has no respect at all."

"Sergio can say what he wants. We are racing, we are trying to do our best. I was trying to defend, he was trying to gain and this is racing," responded Maldonado. "It was an unlucky race for me and that is it."

Even so, the latest on-track clash and post-race penalties inevitably raise questions about Maldonado's future with the Williams team, which had seemed guaranteed after he delivered Williams' first GP victory in eight years at the Spainish Grand Prix in May. By contrast, his team-mate Bruno Senna's position had been looking increasingly beleaguered - especially with Finnish test driver Valtteri Bottas continuing to do a good job when handed Senna's car for the majority of Friday Free Practice 1 sessions this season.

The balance of power between Maldonado and Senna did look to have been reversed this weekend, with Senna claiming points by finishing in ninth place at Silverstone but Maldonado limping to 16th and a lap down as a result of the earlier collision.

"Bruno ran an excellent race," enthused Williams' chief operations officer Mark Gillan on Sunday. "[He] finished in ninth having attacked, and then defended his position very well in the closing stages of the race."

"Good for Bruno to get two points here today, particularly with the overtaking move on Hulkenberg at the end of the race," added Renault Sport F1's team support leader Laurent Debout.

Senna's consistency and calmness behind the wheel is starting to look a growing asset to the team, while the controversies surrounding Maldonado are an increasing liability - especially as Maldonado is also thought to be getting a growing reputation within some quarters of the team itself as something of a 'hard nut' and difficult to get along with.

Maldonado waved off such concerns. "I hope to get my championship back on track in the next few races and put the team up at the top again," he said.

Additional reporting by Zoltan Karpathy



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