Pastor Maldonado has long had his critics in Formula 1, with members of the press and the public lambasting him whenever he happens to spin off or crash, but now the twenty-nine-year-old Lotus F1 Team driver has come out to say that he is not affected by what people say.
Speaking to Autosport, he admitted that he has heard what people have said about him, but he knows he cannot do anything about them, and focuses on the views of those who actually back him. Maldonado feels vindicated that he belongs in Formula 1 when he gets the support from around the world, including from his home country.
“Imagine if you get behind all the comments people do. It’s impossible,” commented Maldonado. “I appreciate the people who support myself, who are many – especially from my country and from Latin America. Even in Europe I have many fans, especially in Italy because I did my entire [junior] career there.
“Sure, there are some comments that I don’t like but I can’t do anything. It is good to be free to talk and to say what you think.”
Maldonado also points out that all drivers get some kind of backlash, and made an example about two-time Formula 1 Champion Fernando Alonso whom some critics believe is arrogant.
“There are people that are not even happy with Alonso,” said Maldonado. “It’s just an example, but some people say he’s arrogant. He’s a good guy in my opinion and he’s a wonderful driver.
“But when you are in the public eye, people can give their opinions. There are some good comments, some bad comments but it doesn’t matter for me.”
One of the things that people point out are Maldonado’s on track incidents, which usually bring out the worst in his critics. For example, his crash in Bahrain with the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez earned him three penalty points, a ten-second stop/go penalty and a five-place grid penalty, but he pointed out that other drivers crash but do not get the same outbursts that the Venezuelan does for making genuine mistakes.
“We are human,” reflected Maldonado. “Even [Daniel] Ricciardo crashed at Suzuka. It’s not only me.
“You can make mistakes, especially when you are racing and pushing hard, and when you don’t have a very stable car it’s even worse.”
Reflecting on what ended up as a disappointing season with Lotus, especially compared to his former team Williams who had one of their most competitive seasons in years, he still feels that he learned a lot during 2014, and believes he still managed to show to his team that he could do a good job when given the proper opportunities.
“I was coming from a really tough season with Williams and a very difficult weather in the team, and Lotus was the best place in the market,” insisted Maldonado. “The team was super good, very competitive until the last race [in 2013] and it was tough to accept that we couldn’t improve during the year as much as we wanted.
“But at the same time I said ‘OK, maybe life put me here to prepare me for the future’. I think I showed everyone that every time I had the opportunity to do my job I’m always there.”