Pastor Maldonado evidently hasn’t had a read of How to Win Friends and Influence People, throwing a major dummy spit after being eliminated in the first phase of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
The Venezuelan – who will leave the Williams team at the end of the season – suggested that the outfit deliberately hampered his chances of a decent qualifying result at the Circuit of the Americas.
The one-time Grand Prix winner was furious after being knocked out in Q1 and told reporters that something “strange” had occurred to deliver such a marked drop in performance. By contrast, his teammate Valtteri Bottas made it all the way to Q3, going ninth-fastest to secure his best dry-weather qualifying result.
“I think on my car somebody is playing with the pressures or the temperatures,” he said.
Asked to clarify his comments further, a smirking Maldonado added: “You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear.”
Having spent three years with the team, the departure of the well-backed driver – who is rumoured to be in consideration for a drive at either Lotus, Force India or Sauber next year – is proving to be particularly acrimonious.
“I think I delivered more to the team than they did for me,” he told reporters on the Thursday leading into this weekend’s Grand Prix – he also expressed his relief that he would be leaving the team after its worst season in its history. The team has scored just a single championship point all year, coming off Maldonado’s tenth-placed finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Williams was quick to pour water over the fire Maldonado had started. The team’s chief engineer, Xevi Pujolar, laid the blame squarely at Maldonado’s feet for not getting his tyres sufficiently up to pressure and temperature on the rather gripless track surface.
“Everything was about the tyres,” he told AUTOSPORT, when asked to respond to Maldonado’s comments.
“And depending on how everything is happening on the out lap and how you handle the run – it can go very well or you lose [pressure], because the grip is so low.”
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams also waded into the debate, and insisted that the relationship between team and driver hadn’t broken down, as is rumoured.
“Qualifying is a big adrenaline rush for drivers and so I’m not surprised by that, people say things after these kind of situations,” she told SKY F1 after qualifying.
“We will go back and talk to the engineers and find out what happened but never in Williams’ history would we ever do anything like that.
“There’s not that kind of atmosphere in the team. I don’t see any sort of issue.”