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Monaco Grand Prix
Maldonado surprised by competitiveness, but targets Monaco win
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 May 2012   |  1:02 pm GMT  |  95 comments

Pastor Maldonado took the time to speak to selected media today in a Williams phone in. The Venezuelan sounded upbeat, but also forward looking as he wants to repeat the success again as soon as possible, perhaps in Monaco,

“For sure we will do our best. The teams are so close, the championship is so close, but we are getting better and better,” he said. “At the moment we don’t have the quickest car in the track. But why not. F1 is changing every time, it will be difficult but we will try.

The Williams looks a front running package for Monaco, certainly in the eyes of their competitors; the car has always worked well in high speed corners, but with extensive set up work in Mugello and on Friday in Barcelona it now appears to also work well in low speed corners. It was comfortably the fastest car in the final sector at Barcelona, which with its tight chicane and slow corners is a good indicator of form for Monaco.

Maldonado is also an ace around the Monaco circuit, with two wins and two podiums from his GP2 races there. Along with Lewis Hamilton, he seems to be the fancied runner for many F1 insiders this weekend,
“I will try to do my best, it will be difficult but we will try,” he said.

I asked him about how Williams had turned things around from the embarrassment of last season where they scored only 5 points and finished ninth in the constructors’ championship.

“We did a great step forward because we changed a lot of things here in the factory.” he said. “The approach when we get to the track is completely different. I have more experience and I feel more motivation in the team. It’s a lot of things we are putting together. We changed everything.

“For sure (he’s surprised) and not only in the team I think everyone in the paddock is surprised at our performance. We didn’t expect to win that race, maybe top five was okay for us, but we got the chance and we did it.”

Maldonado’s backing comes from PDVSA, the state oil company in Venezuela, which pumps money into the team. A copy of a sales invoice allegedly from Williams for a £29.4 million sponsorship payment appeared on the internet last week and in the aftermath of Maldonado’s win and the Venezuelan president’s efforts to make political capital out of it, opposition figures in Venezuela have asked why the money is being spent by a socialist government on an elitist sport, rather than on schools and hospitals.

Maldonado handled this question adroitly, “I don’t worry. Most of the people are with us. F1 is popular in Venezuela,” he said.

“This is something political. We are in the middle of elections (in Venezuela) and some of them are free to say whatever they want. But this is a sport and the government is pushing hard on sport. At the moment we are getting the most important results for Venezuela in sport.

“I’m very glad to have a complete country in my back to see me in F1. PDVSA has supported me my whole career. We have one of the biggest sponsors in F1. I don’t care about the (pay driver) comments. I just push to do my best.

“I spoke to (Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez and, in the name of Venezuela, he congratulated our team and saw our improvement. And for sure all of Venezuela take that success as (something) personal.”

Interestingly, Maldonado’s high profile is leading Venezuelans to take to the road to see him race, with has led to further criticisms of the way the Venezuelan government is handling currency controls.

According to the Financial Times this week, “Venetur, the state tourism agency, is offering Venezuelans the opportunity to engage in “patriotic tourism” by going to watch Maldonado race: next stop, Monaco. It is enabling Venezuelans to buy their all-inclusive bargain tours with local currency, instead of using up their quotas of foreign currency to which everyone is subject thanks to strict currency controls. This has enraged businesses, which complain that they are not allowed to buy enough foreign currency to import things like food and medicine, which are sometimes scarce.”

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Fernando just told me that ‘we did the maximum’ with this post…..


It was a brilliant drive by Pastor at Spain and the clowns hear questioning that should bite their tongues!..I think Monaco will suit Williams but also many others – with all their Mugello updates. Way too hard to tell now!! Lewis will be quick but don’t forget Sebastian won last year. Anyone who listens to Ferraris jibe about “still not being quick enough” is dumb, I’m sIck of Fernando and Ferrari saying this even after they have been on so many podiums. I really want Kimi or Lewis to win this with Williams or KK third


I can bet my house on it that Maldonado WON’T win in Monaco. He’s just kidding himself. However, I’d be totally prepared to bet my house at either one of the following Perez/ Kobayashi/ Raikkonen/ Grosjean/ di Resta/ Hulkunberg may win instead.

Well it all just depends on the lottery. OK, no need to waste your time to argue, just see you all next Monday. 🙂

Tornillo Amarillo

Now my name is working, thanks.


Not good for a driver to take part of the strategies of political manipulation of a questionable government.

Not good for the fans to take part the politics…

We the fans we have to take part of SPORT side of all of this, so I consider fine to support drivers like Maldonado in the SPORT side. Maybe Fangio was also supported from the Argentinian government in his time and others Argentinians drivers hadn’t enough opportunities.

So, when the driver is in the grid, we can support him from his sportiness, disregarding other thoughts.

Maybe Maldonado is wrong to stay with Chavez, but the important thing we the fans cannot be wrong watching him like sportsman.


Ferrari will bring more updates to Monaco. If they work then its hard to see anyone except Lewis/Kimi stopping Fernando from taking pole. The trio are mighty around the streets of Monaco. Still a Ferrari win will definitely make my Sunday.

James, if Fernando wins will he be the first driver to win Monaco GP for 3 different teams?



Fangio was probably denied as there was no race between 51 and 55, so with 2 wins out to 3 starts in 50 for Alfa Romeo and 57 for Maserati, he would have been a strong chance to win in either 54 or 55 for Mercedes.

To answer James on Graham Hill, he only won for BRM and Lotus.


Or if Schumacher wins.


Great question. Graham Hill maybe?


Before the Spanish Grand Prix nobody could have predicted Maldonado’s victory. Honestly this victory will either make Bruno Senna a new Felipe Massa or catapult him into being a new Ayrton Senna. So far he has been everything his uncle was not: cautious, hesitant and nice, way too nice. Ayrton was nice outside the track but inside… Bruno is nice inside and outside the track. That gotta stop and he needs to show some cojones… Will it happen? We shall see….


Maldonado can only win Monaco by finding the Golden Tyre Window for that weekend.

Friday will reveal all.

I predict Maldonado will come crashing down to reality. Then he will soon be adding his voice to the drivers discontented with the Tyre Lottery.

Alonso for the win.


n Monaco, Pole is clearly advantage.

And McLaren have much chance to get another pole. If nothing go wrong again, it should be Lewis turn.

And if nothing wrong for William, Pastor should Quailfy in top 6

Lewis, Alonso, Kimi, Vettel all of them have been very fast around here. All of their cars are capable to take the pole.


Hi James, while the news on Maldonado is good, I was hoping we could move on to a real F1 talent, Robert Kubica. I’m just wondering, do you have any update on his condition? I know there must be thousands of fans wondering if I’m wondering also. I found a blog online that says he has raced a go kart this year, as well as a rally car…is any of that true? There is even a video of him rallying a month ago, linking if that is okay.

Is the eerie lack of any news on Robert anywhere a bad sign? Quite frankly, while I love seeing these other drivers pull out wins, I feel a Robert Kubica at 90% would be easily up on a podium and in a Lotus, have definitely grabbed at least one win. Either way if he is back to rallying then its a testament to the determination he has to go back to the sport that left him so injured.


I doubt that Kubica would have brought out a win here, coming back from such a long break. I think he might not even close to a podium. The wins missed by lotus was not driver mistakes, it was strategy mistakes by the team. So Kubica would not have made any difference.

The team still thinks that its a mid-field team and now they are trying to come out of the mindset to become a winning team. The improved pit stop time shows that. Lotus win is not far away and the come back man will be there on top.

Craig in Manila

Seriously, F1 insiders are now saying that it’s either Hamilton or Maldonado for the win in Monaco ?

Alonso, Vettel, Button, Webber, Rosberg, Schu, Kimi, Grosjean (etc) have all been “jumped” by Pastor & Williams just like that and are now seemingly relegated to battling for third position at best ?


I totally agree

Yorman Hernandez

The Financial Times has always painted Venezuela in a very very bad way.

As a Venezuelan, I am grateful that we are spending public money on supporting athletes like Maldonado.

We have reduced poverty from 53% in 1998 to about 23% today, so spending some millions in something that provides the country with such international recognition is wise.

I’m sure we are going to get a lot more international tourists in our Caribbean beaches, Amazon rain forest and Andes mountains. “Venezuela? Oh yeah, For sure! that’s where Maldonado is from!” people will say.

Besides, PDVSA is getting a huge jump in brand recognition. If we sell our petroleum at $0.10 more just due to our oil company being better perceived in the market because of F1, we actually profit a lot from the investment in Williams.

At this point, we in Venezuela do not lack the money to do things, what we lack is organization, management skills, anti-corruption measures, a modern judicial system… just like any other “third-world” country.

As for Chavez, well, he has his share of errors and a very unusual approach to dealing with some issues, but before him, the majority of us didn’t get our fair share of the oil profits pie.

And with anti-Chavez politicians here attacking PDVSA for the Williams deal and promising to end supporting Maldonado, I rather stay with the current guy in spite of his wackiness.

After all, many in F1 thought Maldonado was wacky… only driver to wear teeth braces, shave his head bald, speaks really bad English, says “for sure” too much… but for me, he has delivered, and that’s what matters.

Now, on to another podium in Monaco for sure!


I’m surprised by the heavy content of propaganda in this post and that it wasn’t moderated, but since it is not my call and this is a motorsport forum, I’ll just reply with facts.

PDVSA crude oil prices are set by the OPEC, of which Venezuela is a member. $0.10 increase in the price over the other member states is not possible unless Venezuela were to leave the OPEC. Apart from crude oil, PDVSA sells no oil products outside of Venezuela that would benefit from a boosted brand awareness. In fact Venezuela has to import gasoline for it’s own motorists because it lacks the capabilities to process it’s own oil! The only reason PDVSA is featured in Williams’ cars is to boost Chavez’s image by showing support to an athlete in a high profile international sport. There is nothing wrong in supporting sportsmen, but Pastor is more than happy to obligue in the image-boosting and that is why many Venezuelans are pretty upset.

Yorman Hernandez

Dear Ralf, I do think the PDVSA sponsorship of Williams is too high. They would have taken Pastor even with half the money, in my view.

But, the fact that Maldonado, Venezuela and PDVSA are even discussed here, should serve as even further proof that the investment in Maldonado and Williams has actually been good for the country.

Now, OPEC sets production quotas for each country to influence the market in favor of oil producing countries, it does NOT set the price of oil as you stated. So, if PDVSA is clever (big “if” here), they can recoup the excess $$ given to the Grove gang, by selling our oil at a little bit higher price (brand recognition premium).

Now, does PDVSA and the Venz gov. make bad investments in motorsport? Yes Indeed !!! Backmarker Milka Duno should not have gotten support for more than one season at Indy. 30 year-old Giancarlo Serenelli should not be getting money to race in GP2 always at the back of the field…. GP2’s Rodolfo Gonzalez is certainly no Maldonado (love the guy, though) and IMHO does not deserve to get $ to go to F1 until he wins races in GP2 (maybe he could turn out to be another Kobayashi, who knows?).

Now, anti-Chavez politician Yon Goicoechea called “imbeciles” to all Venezuelans who celebrated Pastor’s victory. You posts suggests you share his view. I hope I’m wrong, as it sickens me to keep seeing so many of my “compatriots” hoping for Pastor to crash, be passed and do bad in F1, just because he is grateful to his sponsors.


Please do not misinterpret me. I wish all the success in the world to Pastor and am very happy for him to be having success, I just wish he didn’t let his image be associated with the government in turn so easily. PDVSA belongs to all Venezuelans, not just to Chavez and his supporters.


‘For sure’ is F1-speak for ‘Errr’ and ‘Ummm’.


Ah, James, you never fail to disappoint. Pastor’s politicised side has been the story of the week in Venezuela, with the pro-government media singing all the praises to Chavez as if he was driving the Williams, and the opposition fuming over Maldo’s behaviour and declarations. You are the first international F1 media that I see touches the subject (and in a very neutral and objective way I must say).

My girlfriend recently watched Senna the documentary, and she mentioned Ayrton as what Pastor could have been for a country so divided…


Actually James the invoice for the PDVSA sponsorship has been out for months now and also the contract, which is very interesting to read, among many things it specifies how much each space of the car costs, that a venezuelan must be in every session of the weekend (that would explain the Bottas-Senna situation!) and judging by the amount they paid, it appears that is for 5 years. I would post a link to it but it’s in spanish.


Can you please post that link anyway for us Spanish readers? 🙂 Thanks!


There you go:


Great, thanks!


Having been a f1 nut for 32yrs i for 1 can’t understand some fans displesure at the tyre model we now have.Many years i sat and watched one team smash the others through more money,better engines,or poaching the best brains.Todays f1 reminds me of the early 80’s in that most engines are equal and car control and management comes to the fore.I may have rose coloured glass’s on in respect to the past but can anyone say that this year has not been one of the best seasons to watch.I get some fans being frustrated at the fact their team and driver hook up at one track and not another but thats what some of the best engineers on earth are paid to work out! Bring on the rest of this season,this old man can’t wait! ps great work james


Hear, hear. The only reason people would complain about this seasons results is that their team/driver isn’t on the podium regularly. Cry me a river. How about supporters of those teams that haven’t been on the podium ever/for a while. Finally we have a level playing field where money (hopefully) hasn’t bought the championship. How great is that? For teams like Sauber, Williams & Lotus who dont have the wads of cash to splash around like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull do, its great to see that good old fashioned engineering being successful.


totally agree with you.

for me this season is the first after a lot of years that i`m watching all the races til the end….i like that i dont know who will win the next race…i hope next weekend to watch a battle like senna mansel in monaco 🙂


With the tyre drop off you are likely to get it somewhere in the field. 1992 only occured because Mansell got a puncture, so in one sense we could hope for even better rather than something more by chance.



Off topic

You said after Spanish GP that “Lewis Hamilton should have won this race comfortably for McLaren, with a 0.6second per lap car advantage”.

But Jenson Button said “In the race you can say Lewis again did a good job by finishing eighth, which he should be happy with, but still the pace isn’t there.

It was a worse weekend for me, but if you look at Lewis’ pace in the race, I still don’t think it’s where you would expect us to be.”


Gosh you would have to be blind to not see Lewis would have won that race easily on speed alone !.


Yup, I’m no Lewis fan but he certainly is getting BF’d by his team quite often. He should be in the championship lead at this point. Such is F1.


Out front he’d have had a different race


Hi James! Talking about why we have some many equally competitive cars this season, I think we need to link it to Schumi’s comments that drivers are not able to push to the limit with the current tires. It appears that most cars (bar HRT, Caterham, Marussia, and probably Force India) are better and could go much faster than the tires allow them. However, they can’t go any faster because it will destruct their tires and lead to even lower speed around the circuit. Since tires are the same for every team and the only part of the car that provides grip with the track, it places the same speed limitation for these otherwise more capable cars and in effect equalizes their performance. It’s like if we’ve got standard cars in F1, but it was achieved through standard tires, which is for me quite artificial. True, this season is a lot of fun, but it is what we get in lower racing series because of standardization, is it not? I always thought that F1 was a competition at all levels, and this makes me frustrated.



There are still advantages to having a car with a lot of downforce and aerodynamic efficiency.

As you suggest, the aerodynamic load combined with a well balanced car has a strong correlation to the heat generated in the tyre. If you have more downforce in general, you can be quicker under brakes and in the corners or you can take wing off and be faster down the straights. Take the latter approach and you an see that for the same tyre heat there is a lap time advantage that also aids passing on the straights with DRS. Or you can take the McLaren path and have lots of downforce to pass as Hamilton did in Spain out of corners.

If the cars are unbalanced, as the Ferrari was, then the end with less grip will tend to slide a lot and overheat.

If a car has less downforce, it will struggle to perform in the pitstop in – out lap situation, being unable to get track position as Maldonado did. This track position gain comes at the penalty of increased wear, but if get you track position and clear air, that has tended to be worth it.




All very good points that underline the simplicity of my view. Still I feel that the sensitivity of this year’s tyres sets too many limits for the drivers not allowing them to push on straights and in corners thus averaging the speed of the cars. The tyres’ efficiency window is too narrow to allow the teams to play on the strengths of their respective chassis, whether it’s downforce, stability, or straight line speed. Also, with the tyres being so sensitive it makes it extra difficult to test new parts since you don’t how whether to attribute losses or gains to a change in temperature or a new part’s effect.

But thank you all for replying to my frustrations – it makes me feel a bit better about this year’s racing.


If it was only because of tyre wear, that Maldonado (rather than Alonso) won, and not the speed of the car/driver combo, then why was Maldonado ahead of Alonso on the grid? I think he was pretty fast even before Alonso’s tyres went off.


well said!

The way people are complaining they seem to have forgotten that Maldonado was also using Pirelli tyres!


That’s a good point though I think there’s more factors involved as well. We’re still seeing some teams strong in one race and not in others. Though I guess that’s just down to temperature.

I think a lot of the cars are genuinely closer in performance this year though, so a lot of skill resides in each team’s race engineers being able to set the car up strongly.

I think Lotus have been the most consistent performer. They’ve been up there every race. However McLaren have undoubtedly the fastest car in all but Bahrain perhaps.

Overall I think there actually is more predictablity in the form guide than the results have made seem, but due to the closeness of the grid in general, a slight misstep in setup or operational mistake, has a drastic mistake on your result. Gone are the days were Mercedes comfortably slotted into 5th and 6th postions and likewise with Massa compared to his team mate.


It’s not that simple. Tires don’t place limitations on speed, they place limitations on wear. Wear depends on wing configuration, driver management, whether in free air or following another car, etc. …many things that come down to driving, engineering, and strategy. And optimizing those 3 things is what the sport is about. Saying tires equalize the cars is like saying oxygen is needed for combustion and since all the teams use the same air, they’re all equalized. Not true. Formula 1 is about extracting the maximum performance from the constrains on the formula.

michael grievson

“Since tires are the same for every team and the only part of the car that provides grip with the track, it places the same speed limitation for these otherwise more capable cars and in effect equalizes their performance”

But hash;t that always been the case with only one tire supplier? Even when it was Bridgestone?


While being very very happy for Williams for going back to their winning ways, I just wish it wasn’t down to tyres being the major reason for wins (for whoever’s the winner).

James Showalter

And you’d rather it be down to what … aerodynamics? who can spend the most on their car? whose got the biggest wind tunnel? I’d like it to be down to the driver. Maldonado just said he thinks the current rules make it more of a driver’s series. Not sure that is the case, but if so then give me more of what Pirelli has to offer.


Hi James,

I believe Maldonado is right in that we these tyres the driver needs to be very accurate and precise to get the maximum result. If you are too conservative, with any tyre you are slow, but in this case going over the limit hurts you in more than just that corner. Therefore for high performance the drivers have a narrower operating window to target than before. This brings larger time differences over a race.

With a very low degredation tyre the driver would push closer to the limit in an individual corner, and therefore this brings in additional reflex skills as drivers correct when they do over do it, but this has little effect on the race times. Drivers might lose 0.5 seconds on six laps in a race, giving three seconds are are unlikely to lose a place. Now drivers can lose 15 seconds and several places in stint that is too long, such as Rosberg in Spain or Raikkonen in China.




Shall we expect to see President Chavez on the grid walk in Monte carlo?


Nope, President Chávez If fighting against cáncer.


I don’t think Maldonado will be anywhere near the podium next week. Nothing against him but there are other cars and drivers who will be faster in Monaco. I am sure Ferrari and Lotus will be on the podium with Hamilton taking the win.


But people said the same about Spain, enen after qualy, so I wouldn’t be too sure..

James’ tip for the race was Kimi, and everyone expected the Lotuses to be on the podium.

No one really gave Pastor a chance. With a similar performance in Monaco ( bearing in mind his good record there) i think it’s perfectly possible he could challenge for a podium and qualify top 5.


Does anyone know the extent of the damage in the Williams garage? The fire looked very severe, and I was wondering if the teams had back-up gear in case of something like this. I know Mclaren have offered some equipment, but how much do you think it will affect the team going into Monaco?

Michael Grievson

I suppose they can replace all the IT kit but the specialised kit may be a problem. It’s good to see other teams offering to help


Amazing the turn around for Williams this season and hopefully it will continue.

Success does not happen overnight, I wonder if this is all based on the foundations that Adam Parr put in place.

James, I wonder what the view is in the paddock now of Williams and Adam Parr or is he already yesterdays man in F1.


Was one of the changes Parr put in place, getting rid of Sam Michael?


Afraid so. F1 moves on quickly


Frank did praise Adam after the win on Sunday though.


Very well done.

I suppose the acid test for whether the power-brokers consider his Barcelona win to be a greater reflection of driving or tyre performance is; are they clamouring for his name on a contract?


Monaco should be very very interesting and Pastor has every reason to believe he can do well there, creashing out on the last lap in Melbourne early in the season has I believe taught Pastor a valuble lesson and in a way, I think the weekend Bruno has just had, can perhaps act as a catalyst for his season to improve, he knows now he has a podium placing car under him and at Monaco, which belonged to Ayrton, I think we will see a different Bruno and my prediction is back to back wins for Williams and a 6th different driver on the top step from 6 races.


Congrats to winning in spain

Well done , but he only won because in the final stint alonso lost all grip to his tyres and lost time behind pic

Not to take it away he did drive very well

But Monaco is a diferant story

If alonso can put the ferrari on the front row He will win it

Alonso could not pust maldo hard in soain but in monaco

If the ferrari is on pace god help anyone whos in front of the. Magician alonso

Only kimi or lewis might stop alonso

I could be proved wrong by maldo but he was in control in spain

But monaco is another story


I think the real lesson this year is that whoever puts it on pole has an excellent chance of winning the race due to the characteristics of the tyres.

If it wasn’t for Ferrari’s tactical blunder when they left Fernando out for two laps longer than Pastor before pitting, Alonso would have been the 4th driver in 5 races to have won after leading out of turn 1 of the first lap.

Monaco is so hard to overtake on that with this year’s tyres it’s almost a foregone conclusion there that the leader out of the first corner will win the race (mechanical failures or McLaren-style blunders permitting).

StallionGP F1

What Alonso could not in a million years have won that race, he was not hampered in anyway and Maldonaldo was not in any way lucky simply Alonso couldn’t pull away from him in the first stint as towards the end Maldonaldo was cruising cool n composed whereas Alonso was on the ragged edge I suggest you watch the race again and stop all this hype about Alonso. He’s good no doubt but please he’s not doing anything extra-ordinary, he’s only being flattered by Massa as that’s wats being used to judge him and that Ferrari is not a slow car but journalist and fans call it a dog Its won a race.


Just all agree.

Alonso is very good, but not god. and Ferrari is not a bad race car,just not a very good Q car.

In Barce, Updated Ferrari is a clearly fast car, not just Alonso drive a slowcar too fast. In other word, Massa drive fast car too slow.

even if Pastor fail to get the good result in Monaco, that doesn’t mean a win in spain was fluke.


Fernando is equal to or better at getting the most out of a bad situation. Wether it be car or race position….or both lately! I think if the car was near perfect Felipe would be very close to him. Seems that most drivers can be very quick if they have confidence in the machinery but if its a little off they struggle, i.e Button, Massa, Webber, Rosberg. Alonso, Kimi, Vettel and Lewis seem to be the ones who can consistently get a bad car higher on the grid.


as an all rounder, consistently.. fernando IS a god. We would be nowhere without him. Fact.


Not sure if Ferrari is a dog now but it definitely was a dog car when Fernando won in Malaysia. You can see it going side ways entering and existing a corner, less downforce and rear end grip in case of both the drivers. Just that Fernando adapted to it and still did well. In case of Felipe I think only god knows what’s wrong!! Whether its the car or the tyres or Fernando or Ferrari or the Accident who knows. But all said, If I want to put my money on the WDC now, Its got to be Fernando.

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