Pastor Maldonado: Why F1 will miss 'Crashtor'

Pastor Maldonaldo
After five seasons, two teams, one win and crash after crash after crash, Pastor 'Crashtor' Maldonado is riding off into the sunset.

Pastor Maldonado - the professional racing driver more famous for not being able to drive - is leaving F1.

The 30-year-old Venezuelan clocked up 29 retirements, endless on-track incidents and that memorable 2012 Spanish Grand Prix win in five seasons. So why will we miss him?

Because he crashed... a lot

Maldonado meme
Maldonado retired from more than a quarter of his races

He was nicknamed 'Crashtor' by his critics and became a cult figure for, well, just crashing.

In a sport that can sometimes lack drama and excitement, Maldonado was on a one-man mission to reverse F1's image.

Out of 96 grands prix, there were 29 retirements, and he incurred 39 penalties in his colourful F1 career, that's one every 2.4 races and 12 were for causing a collision.

The site maldonadopenaltycounter.com will not be updated any time soon
The site maldonadopenaltycounter.com will not be updated any time soon

And he created some spectacular moments

Pastor Maldonaldo

"Woah, what was what?" asked Sauber's Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez after Maldonado smashed into his car sending it into a barrel-roll at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2014.

Maldonado was given a warning and handed a five-place grid penalty for the next race in China.

There was occasional brilliance...

Pastor Maldonaldo
"There will be a big party in Venezuela," said Maldonado after winning his first F1 race

Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012 in an unfancied Williams car - beating Ferrari's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

Maldonado won a career high 45 points that season, but his maiden win remains the only time he reached the podium.

BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson recalls "that one amazing afternoon in 2012, when the stars aligned and Maldonado won a grand prix.

"How that happened, no-one has ever satisfactorily been able to explain. Some thought it might mark a breakthrough - only for Maldonado to spend the rest of that season routinely bouncing off things as usual."

Normal service resumed

Pastor Maldonaldo
Maldonado said there was "too much to do" after losing concentration in a 2014 practice session

You're driving a 200mph car, you keep your eyes on the road right? Not if you're Maldonado.

In 2014 during the first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix he veered off the road and nearly crashed after getting distracted making adjustments on his steering wheel.

He inspired a sub-culture

hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com will be a quieter site without the man in question on the F1 grid
The website hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com will be a quieter place without Maldonado on the grid
And on Thursday, the site was in mourning for Maldonado
And on Thursday, the site was in mourning

Hang on, with all this crashing, will the F1 purists really miss him?

@JakeDDCreative re-imagines classic PlayStation video game Crash Bandicoot with a new character
@JakeDDCreative re-imagines classic PlayStation video game Crash Bandicoot with a new character

Mark Webber won't.

Asked in a recent interview who was the worst F1 racer, the Australian former Red Bull driver replied: "Probably Maldonado, he's out of his depth and just shouldn't be there."

The Venezuelan earned his seat with the size of his chequebook, rather than his talent and Andrew Benson says that's a strong reason why his departure "will not be widely mourned".

"He was quite quick. Unpredictable only in so far as you were never quite sure when the next embarrassing cock-up would happen. So wild he became a laughing stock. And, fundamentally, not really good enough."

But 'Crashtor' didn't care what people thought

Maldonado meme

"They can say whatever they want. I'm here to do my best, and to work," Maldonado told the Telegraph last year.

"When Pastor crashes, it's big news, When the other people crash, there is no news. It's like this.

"To find the limit, you need to cross the limit. I think I have the big balls to cross the limit every time."

So adios Pastor, make sure you come back soon.

Pastor Maldonaldo