F1 Driver Review: Pastor Maldonado

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year.

A tumultuous campaign yielded 18th in the driver’s standings for Pastor Maldonado…

PASTOR MALDONADO

No. 16 Williams-Renault
2013 Stats: 18th Place, 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10s, 0 Laps Led
Average Start: 16.1
Average Finish: 14.6
DNFs: 3

DiZinno says: Pastor Maldonado is perhaps the most polarizing driver currently in Formula One. Others have written that he’s not nearly as bad as he’s made out to be – a GP2 title, his excellent 2012 Spanish Grand Prix win and several standout qualifying efforts bear that out – but a fluctuation in consistency, temperament and pace often makes him the hardest to get a read on. It’s not as though Bottas smoked him in the other car this year, because both had a difficult time extracting the maximum. Still, one solitary point was a disappointing haul, and it’s hard to say that he shifts to Lotus for 2014 purely on talent.

Estrada says:  Talk about a fall from grace. One year ago, Maldonado was hailed as the man that broke Williams’ seven-year win drought. But by the end of 2013, he was already set for departure from Grove after his relationship with the team crumbled. One point is always better than none, but make no mistake: The year was a disaster. Next year brings new surroundings for the Venezuelan driver at Lotus, whose team principal, Eric Bouiller, has said that his squad can turn Maldonado into a steady point-scorer. At this time, it’s debatable how many fans actually believe him.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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