After the Singapore GP today, it was announced that the Lotus F1 Team has confirmed that they will retain the services of Pastor Maldonado for the 2016 season for the third consecutive year.
With the future of the Lotus team still up in the air, many have thought that if Lotus are bought out by Renault; Maldonado could have been on his way out of F1. However, in his statement to the media this evening, Lotus Chairman and Team Principal Gerard Lopez is happy to announce their intention to keep Maldonado and believe that he is the man for the job. Lopez stated the following:-
‘It’s a positive for the future of Lotus F1 Team that we are able to confirm publically that Pastor remains with us for next season. Everyone at Enstone will testify that Pastor is a terrific person to work with and we all know the performances he is capable of on track. Pastor joined us with a multi-year deal so this confirmation is a reiteration of our belief in him. We hope to be able to make further positive announcements regarding the team in the near future.’
It is clear that Lopez believes that Maldonado is the best man for the job and believe that he has the talent capable of getting the team back to competitive ways and that this is the start of positive steps forward for the Lotus team; even if their future has yet to be formally announced to the media as of yet.
In his own interview with the media, Maldonado is also happy to announce that he will be retained for next season and can now focus solely on driving and preparing for next season. Maldonado stated the following:-
‘It’s great that the team can confirm my position as race driver for 2016. Obviously, there has been a lot of speculation about the future and whilst I have remained focused on my job on track it is also positive to know that my future is confirmed. This season has presented us with some challenges but the quality of the squad at Enstone is clear to see. I really feel part of the family at Enstone and I’m looking forward to building on the work done this year to deliver better results in 2016.’
Even though both Maldonado and Lopez are happy to continue the arrangement that they have with each other and remain focused on getting the best results possible with each other; I still feel that Maldonado should not be at Lotus.
My first thoughts on hearing this announcement was that it was be expected but I am still not happy that he has been retained by the Lotus team for next season. I can understand why Lotus and Lopez have retained him for next season and I will give him credit for this, he has won a Grand Prix in the sport. And he does show glimpses of some form of talent, but that is all that he gives to Lotus and just like he gave to his former team Williams.
Let me expand on this further. Many would say that to win a Grand Prix is an achievement and it is rightly so. But has he been able to build on this? No, he has not. If anything, he has shown that he cannot extract pace and performances from the car to even get near to achieving another win in the sport or scoring points for that matter on a regular and consistent basis.
This season has saw Lotus forced to play catch up ever even though they have switched to Mercedes power. But they have been able score points compared to last season, but still not enough to merit that seat at all.
Yes, Lotus this season may not have given him the car to do so and prove that he is worthy of the Lotus seat. In my eyes, we will never be worthy of that seat. He is just not talented enough to be there; pure and simple. But if he is as talented as Lotus and Lopez believe, that wouldn’t stop him trying to achieve this or even attempt to try and achieve this.
And as for this season, Maldonado has shown that he is clearly out of his depth at Lotus, he has not performed, has failed to deliver, been outqualifed by his team mate Grosjean as you would expect and I believe the only reason he is there is to provide money for the team and not because of his talent. There is no denying that Lotus have experienced money troubles the past few seasons and the money that Maldonado brings to the team is very handy and helps them with their budget.
In conclusion, the news that Maldonado has been retained by Lotus for 2016 will not be welcomed some pundits and fans who truly believe just like I do that Maldonado does not and will ever deserve to be at a top team like Lotus. Maldonado has already proven in Formula One that he cannot deliver what is expected of him.
He cannot be relied upon to bring the car home in the points for a team, he cannot keep himself out of trouble on and off the track with his driving and his attitude and most importantly of all, one race win in Formula One and a few glimpses of some form of ‘talent’ does not guarantee success in the sport like he seems to think.
If anything, this only proves what I have been thinking all along; he is just not talented enough to be in Formula One at all. Maldonado is only here because of the money he brings to a team and not because of his talent. There are many young drivers waiting the chance (even existing drivers) to secure a well deserved drive in a team like Lotus who have a proven track record of success in the sport.
Maldonado may have limited success in the sport with a Grand Prix win, but the only thing he has achieved during his time in the sport is a level of performance that would be unacceptable to a team if he didn’t bring an extraordinary amount of cash with him.
So I pose the question, why allow him to stay in the sport just because of his money? It should be based on talent, not money but that is the way Formula One operates at the moment sadly and this angers many pundits and fans with the direction teams have been making regarding driver choices over the last few seasons.
In my opinion, Maldonado is out of his depth, is just not talented enough to be in the sport and the sooner Lotus realise this and what he truly does bring to a team, the better Lotus and the sport would be without him.