AUSTIN— One Austin magazine wrote this week that Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado “was at risk of bottoming out at this year’s critical United States Grand Prix.”
Needless to say, that magazine was nowhere to be found in Maldonado’s garage before the U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday.
At age 30, Maldonado is an accomplished driver. He finished first overall in the GP2 Seriesin 2010. He won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.
But in five years of FIA Formula 1 competition, he has never finished in the top 10 standings for a season.
He did enter Sunday’s race ranked No. 9 in the world. On Sunday morning, during qualifications for the Grand Prix, Maldonado qualified 13th.
At 1:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the race, Andy Stobart, director of communications for Maldonado’s Lotus F1 Team, said, “Pastor wasn’t happy with where he qualified. He didn’t feel confident in the car with these conditions.
“Our goal is to make sure we finish the race and then we want to finish as high as possible. Our crew has a very positive attitude. We’re competitive animals. We didn’t qualify great but let’s see how well it goes out there.”
Soon after the race started, Maldonado fell to 14th place. But by Lap 41, he was ninth and by Lap 52 he was in eighth, which is where he finished, earning valuable points for Lotus.
“The car didn’t perform quite like I expected it to be,” Maldonado told the Herald.“But we got points, which is very positive for the team.”
Maldonado was smiling. A top 10 finish in this prestigious race meant he’d done his job.
“I think not taking any big risks from the beginning of the race and trying to be consistent was the right strategy today,” Maldonado said.“I was expecting to be a little quicker. Unfortunately I didn’t feel the car was as good as it sometimes is in other races. I didn’t feel the car was as quick as it needed to be to take more chances.
“But we got points.”