May 16 (GMM) The oddest element of the 2012 season so far is that the unlikeliest of candidates could now be genuine title contenders.
Before the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, Pastor Maldonado was a commonly derided 'pay driver' with 500-1 odds of winning in Barcelona, and just a single point to his name in 2011.
Now, he is F1's newest pole-getter and race victor, and genuinely regarded as a potential contender for the world championship.
And Dr Helmut Marko, the reigning world champion Red Bull's motor racing manager, said: "If the Williams really has traction that good, then Maldonado will run rings around everyone in Monte Carlo," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
Maldonado travelled straight from Spain to Caracus, where he was being quizzed by the local media as to his chances of a back-to-back victory repeat in Monaco next weekend.
"I think it's going to be a great opportunity for us to be strong again," he said.