Until his late race collision with Lewis Hamilton punted him in to the barriers, Pastor Maldonado was putting in the drive of his F1 career in today’s Monaco Grand Prix. His eventual exit – a racing incident or one driver’s fault? You decide – was a blow to his team, who had looked set for their best result of the season. In the end they did finally score points, with Rubens Barrichello taking ninth spot, but Maldonado had looked set for so much more. Seventh would have been a real boost.
Having out-qualified team-mate Barrichello, Pastor moved up a spot from his ninth place gridslot at the start and followed Felipe Massa past Nico for seventh early on. He ran there for much of the race, then put a pass on Adrian Sutil with ten laps remaining – following which the German drifted in to the wall as the late chaos ensued.
We already knew that Pastor is mega on these streets. He won the Formula Renault 3.5 event there in 2006, then his maiden GP2 race at the principality from pole in 2007. He was second (again from pole) in 2008 before winning in 2009 and finishing runner-up to Sergio Perez in 2010. No junior formula driver has shown more promise here in recent years.
And this weekend has simply confirmed that. No, the result was not there in the end, but the performance was. Monaco was Maldonado’s best race of 2011 – in fact it was his first genuinely good race of 2011 – and if he can build on this he may begin to justify his place at the team.