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GP Week : Issue 153
The time has come to re-evaluate Pastor Maldonado. We knew he had raw speed – the kind of animal pace possessed by the likes of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen – but without the safe control. Australia was a good example. He was in fifth place – a position of great unfamiliarity for Williams at that stage – and chasing down Alonso. Then, on the final lap, he threw it into the wall. We had also seen his talents in Monaco, a race he was able to completely dominate in the lower formulae, but one time he nearly killed a marshal there. We knew he was talented, but we also knew he was unpredictable; wild, crazy even. So, after a faultless, confident, unflappable drive that saw Alonso and Raikkonen both outclassed and a big trophy dispatched to Williams for the first time in eight years, how do we rate the 27-year-old now? His potential can be in no doubt. But he is still not the complete package. Perhaps this win will mature him. He’s been racing for long enough that his past mistakes haven’t really been an experience issue, more a mental one that is harder to unblock. I can see him winning in Monaco in a fortnight. But I can also see him doing something stupid the following race. Let’s see. Taking nearly US$47 million of Venezuelan Bolivars to give Maldonado a seat is starting to look like the canniest deal of Frank Williams' life. With the confidence this result gives both driver and team – in themselves and each other – they will now raise each other’s game, which is exactly how races and championships are won. Ninety minutes after the flag fell, and the Willys lot celebrated their win, their good fortune took a nasty U-turn. As described in GPWEEK news, the garage was engulfed by a fuel fire. Thirty-one people, including four from Williams, received medical attention and at the time of going to press we haven’t had an update on their condition. Frank, who is less mobile that most, was rescued and taken away from the garage. Another, Pastor’s 12-year-old cousin, had his foot in a cast. Pastor became a hero twice in one day, and threw little Manuel up on his shoulders and ran out of the garage as the flames surged across the ceiling and acrid black smoke bellowed down the pitlane. It was a dramatic end to a dramatic day. His team-mate Bruno Senna had a weekend he would rather forget, pushing too hard in qualifying, getting on the marbles and spinning out in Q1. Then, in the race, he struggled on badly worn tyres and got nerfed off by Michael Schumacher. Adding insult to injury, Schumi called him an “idiot” , which seemed a bit unfair given it was Michael who did the hitting. The stewards agreed and have given the seven-times champ a five- place grid penalty for Monaco, where qualifying is never more important. Michael probably threw another steering wheel – or just a wobbly – when he got that memo. NOT BAD FOR A 'PAY' DRIVER! OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLS F1 Editor OPINION What a week at Williams ... and what a 70th birthday gift from PM to FW ... 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: