x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lack of remorse hurts Pastor Maldonado

The Williams driver's reputation is taking a hit due to many collisions on the track.

Pastor Maldonado had two collisions in his last two races.
Pastor Maldonado had two collisions in his last two races.

Maldonado the Maniac.

Pastor the Paster.

The Venezuelan Wrecking Ball.

Call him what you will, the 27-year-old Williams driver certainly has a reputation these days. And until he acknowledges it and adapts, other drivers will continue to express dismay at his driving style.

In the immediate aftermath of Maldonado's latest high-speed collision – with Sergio Perez at Silverstone on Sunday – Sauber's young Mexican cut an angry and despondent figure.

He declared his rival "stupid", lacked respect for his peers and urged the Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA), world motorsports governing body, to come down hard on him.

As vociferous as Perez was, however, observers on social media forums were more so.

"Revoke his superlicence!" wrote one blogger. "Ban him," demanded another.

The FIA, after prolonged consideration, eventually decided to reprimand and fine him €10,000 (Dh45,197). It was a strong if not spectacular penalty, but unlikely to impact the guilty party too much.

Maldonado now has two reprimands, meaning one more and he faces a 10-place grid penalty.

Yet such a punishment stands to affect other drivers as much as it affects the offender as, from the back of the grid and in a quicker car, he will simply be forced to fight with more cars.

Likewise, financial penalties are unlikely to teach a lesson: PDVSA, the Venezuelan petroleum company who bankroll Maldonado's presence in the paddock, reportedly pay around €58 million to Williams.

A further one-off payment of €10,000 is a drop in the ocean if it is - as expected - them who foot the bill. Effectively, the FIA have handed out the equivalent of a slap on the wrist and a nominal fine, which when put like this seems tolerant, however is - for this incident in isolation - actually rather harsh.

Sunday's shunt was a racing incident. Maldonado, on cold tyres, lost the rear end of his car as he tried to turn into the corner.

Perez, running on the outside, took the brunt of the impact and saw his race ended. End of.

The FIA penalty appears to be the result of a culmination of incidents, indicating that Maldonado's reputation is dictating the decisions of the race stewards.

The governing body said the two penalties had been applied because of the serious nature of the incident, yet the crash was arguably one of the controversial driver's lesser collisions.

For sure, the accident he was adjudged to have caused two weeks ago in Valencia - where he ended Lewis Hamilton's race on the penultimate lap - was more serious.

As was the incident he was involved in two months ago in Monaco when he appeared to deliberately run across Perez's line in qualifying.

What was most galling about the incident at Silverstone, however, was Maldonado's lack of regret post-race.

Drivers in Formula One rarely apologise, but they are known to show remorse and the former GP2 champion's assertion that Perez needs to stop "crying" was impertinent to the extreme.

Whether the shunt was intentional or not, Maldonado's loss of control ended Perez's race and for that he should have shown contrition.

Instead he mocked his colleague, proving that when Perez said his peer lacks respect, it is not only on the track.

Maldonado would do well to adapt his attitude as well as his uncontrolled aggression behind the wheel - otherwise it will soon not only be people venting fury on websites who are calling for his license to be revoked.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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