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.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.