Pastor Maldonado was a new man in the final Formula 1 races of 2012 and can put his wild reputation behind him, reckons Williams technical chief Mike Coughlan.
Although Maldonado became a grand prix winner with his triumph in Spain last year, he was also involved in a string of incidents during the season, picking up a number of grid penalties for driving misdemeanors. But Coughlan believes Maldonado had an epiphany in late 2012.
"If you take the last quarter of the season, he seemed to realize what was involved to be a top class racing driver," said Coughlan. "He looked at himself and there were no penalties in the last third of the season and he did some great races."
Coughlan highlighted Maldonado's fifth place in Abu Dhabi, despite a KERS failure, and recovery from a poor first lap to ninth in the United States as evidence of his maturity and progress.
"I still say Abu Dhabi was a better race for Pastor than Barcelona," said Coughlan. "Austin was another one; he raced very strongly towards the end."