Five years after his sole F1 victory, Pastor Maldonado has revealed he turned down the opportunity to race again in 2017 because the seat on offer wasn’t a competitive one.
The Venezuelan surprised the Formula One fraternity by winning the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix for the Williams F1 Team but his copybook was blotted by several incidents and crashes.
His five-year F1 career came to end when Lotus – now Renault Sport F1 Team – replaced him with Kevin Magnussen for the 2016 season. Unable to find a drive elsewhere, Maldonado hasn’t been behind the wheel since.
For 2017 however, Maldonado made contact with several teams in the hope of returning to Formula One, including Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team following Nico Rosberg‘s shock retirement.
But Maldonado failed to find an agreeable offer, going as far as turning down a race seat because he believed it to be uncompetitive.
“I have the experience and I had opportunities to come back here this year [in a race seat],” he told Motorsport.com.
“I was quite close to coming back but I decided not to. But if I don’t have any good feeling, if I don’t have any guarantees to do in the good way, it’s better to stay away – so I turned them down.”
Maldonado left Formula One amidst questions over his financial backing, with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA reportedly failing to come forward with payments. But Maldonado doesn’t see those uncertainties as an issue.
“It’s quite tough – there is up and downs in the economy and hopefully soon we can get out of this situation and the country will be strong again,” said the 2012 Spanish GP winner.
“I don’t think it’s important – a return is still possible, it’s not the only sponsor. I’m not here because I don’t want to be right now.”
For now, Maldonado insists he isn’t focusing on securing a seat in Formula One but he isn’t ruling out a return in the future.
“I discovered there is something more interesting than F1 in life,” he said. “It’s not everything. But I’m missing it because I dedicated my entire life to motor racing – I started when I was six.
“When I wake up and decide ‘OK, it’s time to go back’, I will.”