Newly confirmed for 2013, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado has been one of the sensations of the 2012 Formula One season, combining a superb Spanish Grand Prix win with a fair few visits to the stewards’ room. But who is the real Maldonado? Turns out he’s a tiger-like would-be baseball star who is very fussy about his pillows - and who struggles to ride a bike. We found out more…
Q: What keeps you awake at night?
Pastor Maldonado: Bad pillows. I am very sensitive about the pillows - I like good ones. But I don’t travel with my own - I probably should. (laughs)
Q: What’s been your most valuable life lesson?
PM: There have been a lot. I’ve attended a military school and there I got valuable lessons on life and respect. Later when I was racing in go-karts I was very shy, but that’s been solved! (laughs)
Q: What do you admire?
PM: Seriousness and transparency, talent and approach. In sport I probably admire more the approach one person is taking rather than the talent.
Q: If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?
PM: I would say choose another sport - baseball. It is by far the most popular sport in Venezuela. It is a much easier career path, as it is somewhat easier to go there to play in the Major League than making it into Formula One. Okay, I liked the speed more than the bat, but I was talented enough to make it in baseball. I played in all the teams when I was younger.
Q: If your racing career ended after this season what would you do with the rest of your life?
PM: Even if my F1 racing career were to end there is a lot to do in motorsport. I sure don’t have any musical talent that I could turn to. (laughs) But don’t let’s think about the end of the F1 career - I am just getting started. I’d like to hang around for a couple more years!
Q: What animal best reflects your personality?
PM: The tiger.
Q: What is more important than winning?
PM: My family.
Q: What would you spend your last dollar on?
PM: Food and something to drink.
Q: What is your biggest weakness?
PM: I have a lot. (laughs) My character? Sometimes I am too strong with myself. Many times I ask more from myself than is needed.
Q: What’s your ultimate comfort food?
PM: I like meat and fruits. I have a whole basket of fruits at home in my fridge - pretty much everything that grows on trees and bushes.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home after a race?
PM: Sleep, rest, watch TV, and browse the Internet. Couch potato…
Q: What scares you?
Q: What’s your favourite smell?
Q: What’s the best advice you have been given?
PM: None - yet.
Q: Are you the man you always thought you would become?
PM: Yes, I feel really lucky. I have chosen a sport and I’ve got to the top rung of that sport. And now that I am here I crave more. As a sportsman you always want more. It is just like with money - you already have a lot but there is still the craving for more. I think the wanting more in sports is even stronger than the drive for more money - it is more addictive.
Q: What tastes like home?
PM: Latin American families are big and they stick together. Uncles, cousins, all coming to our house and cooking together.
Q: When were you happiest?
PM: When I’ve won a race - Barcelona. That has massively set free the ‘happy’ hormone.
Q: What event can’t you forget but would wish you could?
PM: In 2007 when I was training with a bike I fell and broke my collarbone. That was stupid and completely unnecessary. I am racing at 300km/h and then I fall off a bike… (laughs)
Q: If you had to stay in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?
PM: Los Roques Islands in Venezuela - the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is cut off from everything, so there it’s all about a simple life in sheer beauty.