Team: Williams Nationality: Venezuelan Date of birth: 09/03/1985 First race: Australian Grand Prix, 2011 2012 points: 45 2012 best finish: 1st 2012 position: 15th
Maldonado says he wanted to become a racing driving from the age of three, and there were times last season when he really did drive as impetuously as a toddler.
Lambasted and penalised – more frequently than any other driver – by the authorities throughout 2012 for a series of misdemeanours and crashes, the Venezuelan was starting to look like a Formula One liability.
Sure, he’s quick, as evidenced by his startling victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, but he urgently needs to show the kind of finesse and maturity he did that day across the course of a whole season.
The chiefs at Williams – delighted as they are with him for leading them out of the doldrums with that first win in eight years in Spain last season – will no doubt have impressed that message on him in no uncertain terms in the build up to this campaign.
They need him on track, finishing races if they have any hope of making inroads in a fiercely competitive constructors’ championship.
Maldonado needs to find some consistency for his own reputation too. The 28-year-old is heavily backed by a Venezuelan, state-owned oil company, and critics have been quick to point out that that is the real reason Williams have stuck with him.
Undoubtedly there’s more to him than just cash, his job for 2013 is to prove he’s grown up and ready to take on more responsibility.
2013 predictions: “The team is getting better and better every day, we’ve been rebuilding everything in the team and now I think it’s more compact. The car is looking better and better every day.”
Did you know? Maldonado was a darling of the Hugo Chavez government, receiving numerous awards for his charity work during his reign as president.