Stewarding can be tough, admits Maldonado

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Pastor Maldonado admits the penalties dished out by F1’s stewards can be “quite strong”.

The Williams driver receive a ten second stop-and-go penalty during the Belgian Grand Prix for colliding with Paul di Resta (pictured), putting the Force India driver out of the race.

“If you make a mistake you must be penalized,” Maldonado told ESPN. “But the decision they take sometimes can be quite strong. That’s my opinion.”

But Maldonado disagreed with his penalty in Belgium: “I think what happened in Spa is clear; very clear and obvious. And I think it’s unfair that I got the penalty.”

It was Maldonado’s third penalty so far this season. Last year he collected ten penalties – twice as many as any other driver – although three of them were for technical reasons such as gearbox changes.

The year before Maldonado received five penalties, more than any other driver bar Lewis Hamilton. He has often attracted attention for the wrong reasons, notably his controversial collisions with Hamilton during qualifying at Spa in 2011, and with Sergio Perez at Monaco last year.

Maldonado shrugged off his reputation for being accident-prone, saying: “I’m racing, this is racing. My reputation is another thing.”

“I will race and if some people think something about me then they are free. I cannot say ‘don’t think that’.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”