After failing to make it out of ‘Q1’ on Saturday, Pastor Maldonado accused Williams of sabotaging his car ahead of the US grand prix.
Austin is the first race since it was announced officially that Venezuelan Maldonado, and his millions in PDVSA backing, are heading elsewhere for 2014.
Maldonado began the weekend with an aggressive tone, saying it was his decision to quit Williams because he delivered “more to the team than they (did) for me”.
On Saturday, the 28-year-old then qualified 18th, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas – who is staying at Williams in 2014 – made it all the way to the top ten.
“Now the announcement has been made and suddenly things are worse for me,” he told Spanish-language journalists after qualifying.
And he told English-language reporters: “I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures.”
Maldonado said it is “great” that, after Sunday, only one more race in his three-year Williams career remains.
Deputy team boss Claire Williams played down Maldonado’s comments on the basis that the “adrenaline” of qualifying had not yet left the driver’s body.
“People say things after these kind of situations,” she said.
“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.”
But later, when Maldonado spoke to the print media, his mind was still on sabotage.
“I have never felt anything like that from a car,” he is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Asked if he thinks Williams had deliberately sabotaged his car, Maldonado answered: “Maybe, maybe not, but I know very well how our car is.
“For sure, there is something quite big in the tyres — (I know) because I’ve been doing this job for 20 years.”
He said he is not even angry. “Frankly I don’t care, I will focus on next season. It’s over,” said the driver.
For Williams, it is a sad end to the Maldonado era, which last year in Spain delivered the team’s first win in approaching a decade.
“Within the team, behind closed doors, it’s not acrimonious,” Claire Williams insisted.
“I don’t see any sort of issue. Pastor has said he wants to go to another team and that’s absolutely fine — this is formula one. It’s the nature of the business.”
© RIF | GMM