The fallout from Esteban Gutierrez and Pastor Maldonado’s coming together in Bahrain is continuing at the Chinese Grand Prix.
During the previous race, the Venezuelan clumsily ran into the side of the Mexican’s Sauber at the apex of turn one after the Lotus driver had completed a pit-stop, the wheel-on-wheel contact flipped Gutierrez’s car over before landing back on all four wheels.
After the incident angry fans took to social media calling for a race ban for Maldonado who continues his reputation as one of the sport’s most reckless drivers. Instead he was only given three points on his super-license and a five-place grid drop for Shanghai.
Fans reaction has been just as unyielding with most believing Maldonado got off very lightly, certainly when compared to penalties given to Daniel Ricciardo after his unsafe release in Malaysia.
However, with Maldonado a quarter of the way to the 12 points that would result in a one race ban, the 2012 Spanish GP winner was firmly against the new system when asked about his punishment.
“We need to avoid the incident but at the same time (with penalty points) you cannot race,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“We are racers and we are always risking. If you are competing, you need to take chances."
Maldonado believes the incident with Gutierrez was exaggerated by the roll of the Sauber adding the new low noses in 2014 had a part to play.
“With the new noses, when we touched, the car took off. So for the spectator it was quite shocking,” he told Brazil’s Globo.
“I think the punishment was related to the magnitude of what we saw, not the contact itself.”
Unsurprisingly Gutierrez has a much different view and is in favour of the new penalty points rule.
“It puts some conscience on ourselves to not do wrong moves and to respect each other and to race in a fair way,” he added.
In relation to the Bahrain collision, the Mexican believes Maldonado’s biggest problem is that he fails to own up to his own mistakes.
“It is pointless to discuss the television images, because they are clear,” he told Totalrace.
“That’s the problem: it seems that Pastor is not recognising his mistakes, he sees things only from his side and I don’t think that’s right.”
On Friday in Shanghai, Maldonado’s woes continued as he made a strange error in the first session of simply driving off the track while adjusting something in the car and then in the afternoon he became another victim of the tight left into the pit-lane as he locked his brakes and hit the wall.
Certainly for some Maldonado will never be worthy of his seat in F1, the stigma of being the sport’s biggest ‘pay driver’, with his millions in backing landing him the Lotus seat this year, along with the constant collisions and accidents he causes being the biggest reasons.
On this occasion Gutierrez is right, however, the incident in Bahrain was pointless and reckless even if Maldonado claims the contact wasn’t as bad as it looked. It is also clear that the Venezuelan believes he is doing nothing wrong, but the difference between aggressive and reckless is easy to define and on too many times Maldonado has crossed that line.
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