F1 2015 Driver Review: Pastor Maldonado

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Pastor Maldonado

Team: Lotus F1 Team
Car No.: 13
Races: 19
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 7th (Canada, Austria, Russia)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 27
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 14th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Ah, Pastor Maldonado. Formula 1’s perennial miscreant did little to shake off his reputation for on-track incidents in 2015, although as he pointed out in Abu Dhabi, there is something of a cult and immediate blame game surrounding him even when others are at fault.

In terms of on-track success, there’s a good case for this being Maldonado’s best year to date. Despite finishing no higher than seventh in a race and only finishing in the top ten on six occasions, Maldonado ran well with the improved Lotus E23 Hybrid car, and would perhaps have finished higher had it not been for the run that saw him finish just four times in the opening 12 races.

And yet this again was Maldonado’s downfall: consistency. Errors were common yet again, and the 17-2 advantage to teammate Romain Grosjean is telling. You have to think that there was so, so much more waiting to be unlocked in the car; a far higher score than 27 points, most definitely.

One of my favorite memories of the year comes from pre-season testing, when Maldonado hosted a lunchtime media session and spoke in length about how good the new car was. After the press call, he went back out on track and we returned to the media centre. By the time we’d returned to our seats, a red flag was out – and guess who it was for?

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Maldonado made his fair share of mistakes, as we’ve frequently seen over his five seasons, and he almost never outqualified teammate Romain Grosjean. But to the Venezuelan’s credit, he improved in his second year at Enstone after his first, and surprising as this might be to say he actually had his second best season in the sport in terms of points output, and best ever from a final standing standpoint.

Other than 2012, the year of his lone Grand Prix win, Maldonado’s other three years saw him score in no more than one race all season. This year he bettered that with six scores – all between seventh and 10th place – and helped Lotus advance from eighth to sixth in the Constructor’s Championship. He also recorded his first ever run of scoring in three straight races in his career, this from Suzuka through Austin.

Granted, given the new Mercedes power unit at his and the team’s disposal, scoring almost half the points of Force India seemed a bit low. And the struggles may return in 2016 if Renault, which has now finally confirmed its plans to secure the team’s future, fails to put up a power unit with the necessary grunt to take it to their rivals. Still, credit where it was due to Maldonado, who passed off the unofficial “running joke of the year” torch to McLaren Honda.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.