The first corner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was as far as Pastor Maldonado got on Sunday, when the Venezuelan was forced out of the race after an incident with Fernando Alonso, with the McLaren-Honda driver also having his afternoon compromised as a result.
A concertina effect at the first corner saw Alonso hit Maldonado, breaking the Lotus F1 Team driver’s suspension, ending his afternoon before it even began, with the Venezuelan admitting his disappointment afterwards after feeling he could have had a good afternoon.
“It’s sad to end the race in the first corner because we were looking good for the race,” reflected Maldonado. “Today we had a good strategy to go with our better race pace, but anyway this is racing and it can happen.
“I didn’t see the contact I just felt it in the back of the car from Fernando. I tried to restart but then I saw the suspension damage.
“Imagine if that incident had been the other way round, it would’ve been big news then!”
Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, which, coupled with a trip to the pits to replace his front wing, resulted in the Spaniard having a lonely race, with the McLaren-Honda driver finished down in seventeenth position, ahead only of the two Manor F1 Team drivers.
The incident between him and Maldonado also earned the Spaniard two penalty points on his Superlicence, despite feeling he was tagged from behind by Felipe Nasr that triggered it all.
“This has been a tough and unlucky weekend: I had the puncture in Q1 yesterday, then I had no control at the start today, which pushed me into Pastor,” said Alonso. “That was it for me: there were no battles in the race, and I was pretty much alone.
“The race became more of a test session for me – hopefully we got some useful information for the winter, but I still had to save tyres and fuel. During the race, I told my engineers, ‘Guys, let’s try to push’, as we wanted to test the Supersoft tyre on low fuel, and everything worked fine.
“My preparations for 2016 start almost immediately: I have a seat-fit and simulator tests at the MTC next week. I’m optimistic that we can make good progress.”