Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

What Next for Pastor Maldonado After F1?

After Pastor Maldonado announced his exit from F1 on Monday, what is next for Venezuela's only Formula 1 winner?

News broke on Monday ahead of the official Renault F1 unveiling on Wednesday that Pastor Maldonado will not be driving for the team in 2016. He announced this in a statement on Twitter. With Maldonado’s backing disintegrated through no fault of his own – the drop in the price of oil has pretty much wiped out Venezuela’s resources and thus none of their racing drivers will get the backing they did in 2015, can Williams’ most recent F1 winner and Venezuela’s only F1 winner secure a seat elsewhere for 2016, or will we need to wait to see Pastor Maldonado after F1 action?

Maldonado’s career to date has certainly seen both ends of the spectrum. A former GP2 champion twinned with the reputation of spending the longest time to do so saw him enter F1 with Williams in 2011. After an apparent deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton at Belgium that year, the reputation he has so famously gained seemed to kick off. The following season, he had races where he would perform fantastically – winning the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with a race-long battle with Fernando Alonso and the Singapore Grand Prix where he was challenging for a podium before the car gave up, were twinned with races where there were just too many errors – Monaco was a complete disaster and there were controversial collisions at the British and European Grand Prix. Whilst in recent years the number of collisions which seemed to be caused by Maldonado appeared to dwindle, the results on the track were not particularly stellar – being beaten by his team mate for the last three years on the trot. It is somewhat ironic that Maldonado would get wiped out in what turned out to be his final Grand Prix by a clumsy error from Alonso at the start. Ultimately in his five seasons and with the way how F1 is currently, Maldonado, 31 this year is not going to get onto the grid again based on driving ability alone.

As we are now in February and Maldonado’s backing has effectively been wiped clean, it is incredibly difficult to secure a seat for any of the upcoming seasons. The two remaining F1 seats – both at the Manor team appear to not be a viable option, especially as Maldonado’s statement has read that he will not be present on the starting grid this year. The other major single-seater option would be the IndyCar series, however finding new backing in such a short time would be incredibly difficult, and just a few full-time seats remain available there. Elsewhere in America, it would appear that securing a NASCAR seat would be even more unlikely for this year, especially as some sort of backing would be required here too. One viable option for the occasional appearance would be in the IMSA SportsCar Series, which kicked off last weekend at Daytona. There may be the odd seat available for a race or two there and a driver of Maldonado’s quality would be well-received there.

Back in Europe, the World Endurance Championship – which is yet to kick off, could well be an option for a team looking for a driver (which teams however would depend on the grading Maldonado would get from the governing body). Similarly, the European Le Mans Series is also yet to start. These are perhaps two of Maldonado’s most realistic options. Whilst the coveted factory seats in the LMP1 class may all be secured, there will surely be seats available in top LMP2 teams across the two series as well as possibly at the ByKolles team in LMP1. There may well be options in both the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance series too.

Maldonado’s aggressive yet quick style may well suit the touring car scene. The DTM series may be out of the question as only Mercedes are yet to announce any drivers, but there are seats available in both the BTCC and WTCC series, and a high-profile F1 driver moving there would be huge for either.

Sitting out for a year and securing a strong race seat for 2017 may be Maldonado’s best option. The likes of Giedo van der Garde and Kevin Magnussen (the latter tipped to be Maldonado’s replacement) both found themselves out of the job late into the day ahead of the 2015 season, yet managed to secure a return to racing in the WEC and in F1 respectively for 2016. The available options will become a lot clearer as this year continues. At the end of the day, Maldonado is an exciting driver to watch, and his F1 experience and raw speed would be an asset to a team in any top category. I have no doubt that we will see the Venezuelan on a grid again soon, be it full-time or part-time.

Main image:


More Posts

Send Us A Message