Pastor Rafael Maldonado Motta (born 9th March, 1985 in Maracay, Venezuela) is a Venezuelan Formula One driver currently driving for the British Airways Sauber F1 Team. A multiple-time Grand Prix winner and World Champion in 2019, Maldonado is considered one of the finest racers of his generation.
After a fairly impressive junior career, Maldonado would make his top-tier debut with the works KIA/Hyundai team in their debut season in Formula One - a year after their farcical F1RWRS in 2010. Maldonado would be a regular points scorer all season, his best being a fourth place in Monaco.
Maldonado's impressive form in 2011 saw him switch to Sauber for 2012, with Sergio Pérez heading in the opposite direction. Although Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were the major protagonists in the championship, Maldonado would take a real step up in terms of form and snatch seven victories over the course of the season - with many of them coming in the later stages of the season when the Sauber had a upturn in form. Maldonado would finish his sophomore season in third place behind Hamilton and Vettel, but his performances in the latter stages of the season was enough for Sauber to take an unexpected Constructor's crown ahead of Red Bull and McLaren.
2013-2015: American excursion
With an attempt to join Caterham failing at the last hurdle, Maldonado would head stateside in 2013, taking in the early parts of the IndyCar Series with Panther Racing - his best result being a fourteenth place at Long Beach.
After struggling with IndyCar, Maldonado headed into NASCAR - sharing the #7 Florida Lottery Chevrolet of Tommy Baldwin Racing with regular driver Dave Blaney. A string of top-10 finishes for Maldonado saw him make the #7 seat his own in 2014, bringing sponsorship from PDVSA.
2015 saw Maldonado return to single-seater action again, taking part in a full season in the F1 Rejects Indy Championship Series with the Pole Star Racing Team. Maldonado's best results would be a pair of second places - including one in the United States 500 on Indianapolis - but he would finish in a lowly 26th position in the championship.
Sauber opted to bring Maldonado back to the grid in 2016 and the Venezuelan immediately repaid his team's faith in him by winning the first race of the season. This ended up being his only win of the year, but it seemed that little of his speed had disappeared.
Maldonado continued his winless run for the next two years but it was in 2019 when he finally delivered on his potential. Maldonado, along with Dean Stoneman, had the strongest package by far and Maldonado could barely be stopped - taking thirteen wins on his way to his first World Championship.
Maldonado is an outspoken socialist and was a close friend of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. In an interview with a Venezuelan newspaper, Maldonado expressed interest in running for public office once his racing career has finished.
Despite having raced in Europe for most of his career, Maldonado still lives in Venezuela for the majority of the year with a second home in Basel when there is a short turnaround between races.