“I think someone sabotaged my car.” – Pastor Maldonado

I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures…
– Pastor Maldonado, post Q1, in Austin

Did he really say that? When his team mate made Q3? I think we have a problem in F1, and it has the potential for disastrous, even tragic, consequences…

I couldn’t quite believe my ears when I heard the comments of paying driver Pastor Maldonado after the first Austin qualifying session. What team in their right mind would compromise points for the constructors championship which, despite the drivers championship’s prominence, is by far the most important one in the sport.

While Maldonado failed to set a time quick enough for Q1, his team mate Bottas qualified fastest in Q1, going on on to Q2 and Q3.

Once that car leaves the pit garage, it is up to the driver to manage, stabilise, and nurture that machine through whatever conditions wait for them on track. That’s why they’re in that cockpit. To establish the bleeding edge of performance and consistently deliver it.

Those in F1 are (supposed to be) the best at performing that task. As a driver you might feel uncomfortable, nervous or even unconfident in the same car you drove to victory the weekend before. Well tough shit, thats your job as a driver.

If your team mate is 1.5 seconds quicker in the same car, like Bottas was after Q1, and you blame the team, then I’m afraid it’s time to start asking questions.

To come out and accuse the team, blaming every thing other than his own ability, just shows the calibre of driver that big sponsorship deals bring.

Team principle Claire Williams’ response of “it was heat of the moment talk” was professional and admirable. But for me that isn’t even an excuse in the top flight of motorsport. Just as premier league footballers remain professional in their press communications, so too should F1 drivers. They are experts in their field and paid to represent the team in the best possible light.

I can’t help thinking that if it were not for the money he brings to a team, he would not feature in F1. That is a problem.

F1 is supposed to be the best of the best, an elite formula showcasing the driving talent of motorsport’s best drivers. By diluting the input, you dilute the output.

Pretty soon, if there are more drivers on the grid by their financial merit as opposed to their talent, then it’s not just the racing that will suffer, but also the safety record.

I know most casual F1 fans will relish the thought of more crashes and dumb overtaking manoeuvres, but for me, this will spell the end of what is the greatest technical and physical achievement in motorsport history.

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