The relationship between Pastor Maldonado and Williams may have deteriorated drastically over the past few months, but it reached a new low after qualifying for the United States Grand Prix (race live on NBC from 1pm ET) when the Venezuelan driver accused his team of sabotaging his car.
After testing a new configuration of exhaust in Abu Dhabi, the team showed signs of an improved pace during practice on Friday and Saturday morning, but Maldonado failed to live up to this hype during qualifying. Despite being held up by Esteban Gutierrez, he still failed to post a quick enough time to secure a place in Q2. Curiously though, teammate Valtteri Bottas finished Q1 as the quickest driver on track ahead of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and a full 1.5 seconds faster than Maldonado.
When asked about the time difference between himself and his teammate in Q1, Maldonado inferred to journalists in Austin that all may not be as it seems.
“I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures,” he said. “You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear.”
However, chief engineer Xevi Pujolar believes that the problems were due to the temperature of Maldonado’s tires.
“We didn’t quite get the tire performance with Pastor, but despite starting eigteenth he always makes a good start and fights through on the opening laps, so we still expect him to move forward in the race,” Pujolar said.
This is the latest in a number of recent outbursts by Maldonado against the team, and he is poised to leave at the end of the year to make way for Felipe Massa. However, he said that he was happy to be leaving as he looks to join Lotus as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement.
The Venezuelan driver is unlikely to have won any friends within the team though by making these allegations, nor will he be impressing the teams considering him for a drive in 2014.