In his five years racing Formula 1, Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado made quite a reputation for himself. No, not for any consistent success, but for crashing more than seemingly everyone else on the grid. He was missed (?) last year after losing his seat at Renault to Kevin Magnussen, but now, he thinks he can bring his talents (??) back to the F1 grid in 2017.
, which cites Spanish-language publication , Maldonado says he has a good chance of scoring an F1 seat for the 2017 season. He's currently in talks with some of the teams with open seats next year.
"I'm talking to some teams and am quite optimistic," Maldonado told F1Latam, as translated by WTF1. "Unfortunately, circumstances pushed me out of the world of Formula 1, and you know getting back in through the front door is never easy, but we are working hard and I hope to have some good news in the coming weeks."
Currently, mid-pack teams Manor Racing and Sauber have three open seats between them, making them a good fit for Maldonado. Mercedes also needs someone to take Nico Rosberg's recently-vacated seat, but, we seem to think Lewis Hamilton and Maldonado becoming teammates is a distant possibility at best.
You're probably wondering why even a mid-field team would want someone as notorious as Maldonado. The answer is money, as is often the case in racing.
Maldonado was previously funded by PDVSA, a state-owned Venezuelan oil company that ran into financial trouble as a result of economic troubles in the country. That state-sponsored cash made Maldonado a good fit for underfunded teams, until the money ran out.
It sounds like he still doesn't have PDVSA banking, but perhaps he's found a new backer (or has dirt on someone), and that could help him woo Manor or Sauber. Maldonado's also spent a good amount of time working with Pirelli in 2016 to , experience that makes him even more appealing
If he secures a drive, Maldonado would bring back some of the excitement and unpredictability F1 lacked in 2016. Whether or not that's a good thing depends on your perspective.