Jun.3 (GMM) Pastor Maldonado’s millions do not guarantee his place on the grid.
That is the claim of Lotus chief executive Matthew Carter, as pressure continues to pile on the shoulders of the Venezuelan driver who wears number 13.
This week, a ‘mockumentary’ starring Maldonado emerged on social media, chronicling the notorious driver’s string of incidents and crashes and his dubious status among fans, fellow drivers and the F1 paddock at large.
The perception is that first Williams, and now Lotus blindly tolerate Maldonado’s blunders because of the dozens of millions he brings in the form of PDVSA sponsorship.
But Lotus’ Carter insists the 30-year-old, who is pointless so far in 2015 having only finished one race, is a good driver.
“He has been very unlucky, but he is a quick racing driver,” he told Britain’s Sky broadcaster.
“We see him in the simulator week in, week out, we see what he can do and even in the races — he was quicker than Romain (Grosjean) for big chunks of the race in Malaysia,” added Carter.
“I think the first few incidents it is very hard to blame Pastor for. He has been unlucky and it is really frustrating for us as we have thrown away a lot of points that we should have had.”
Enstone based Lotus is just seventh in the constructors’ championship at present, having emerged in 2015 with a much better car than last year’s.
Had the team been scoring with both cars, it would almost certainly be fifth, ahead of Sauber and Force India.
“Coming off the back of a very difficult season last year our target is to finish fifth and I think looking at the championship that is where we could and should be,” Carter said.
He tackled the perception in F1 that Maldonado’s millions make his place at a team “untouchable”.
“He is not untouchable,” Carter insisted.
“He has to prove himself, he has to prove himself as a racing driver — and from our side, he is doing that.
“He outqualified Romain in Monaco and you don’t do that around Monaco unless you are a good driver. He has been quick in all the races so far at different points, he has just got to string a good weekend together.
“Confidence builds and if he strings one weekend together, then it will follow and there is every chance he can do it in Canada. Canada should be very well suited to the car,” he added.