Wolff: Maldonado is learning
Williams executive director Toto Wolff is sure Pastor Maldonado is learning the lessons of a troubled campaign and will emerge far stronger.
Maldonado has incurred numerous penalties this season for a variety of infractions, effectively making him the bad boy of Formula One.
Following his sensational win in Spain, giving Williams their first taste of victory for seven and a half years, Maldonado has failed to score a point since.
Instead, the Venezuelan has found himself a regular visitor to the stewards' office, casting doubts over whether he will remain with the Grove-based team for 2014.
But Wolff, team principal Sir Frank Williams' right-hand man who runs the marque when the 70-year-old is unable to attend races, has no doubts Maldonado will come good again.
"He's got a huge raw talent, he is extremely fast, and he is a nice guy, which is important because you need to be socially competent to function in that environment," said Wolff.
"The new generation of drivers needs to be like that. Yes, he seems to struggle in some situations in the race.
"From one stupid, heated incident in Monaco (when he clashed with Sauber's Sergio Perez) it has almost become an avalanche, and this is affecting his performance.
"But I think he has understood now he has to take a different approach - this is not GP2.
"He is an intelligent guy and he will learn from it. He understands that he is in a difficult situation, but he will rise above it, of that I am 100% sure."
Speaking to formula1.com, Wolff likened Maldonado's misdemeanours to those of three-times champion Ayrton Senna during the early part of his career.
Wolff added: "Remember Ayrton Senna in the beginning? Nobody wanted to touch him.
"In those days there weren't many grid penalties, but had there been he would probably have had to go back 10 places on the grid many times (laughs).
"We accept all the decisions made by the stewards - we must as they are the police - so maybe Pastor has to change the way he is driving and he has accepted that.
"So we take it from there. I am sure we will see many more successful races from him in the future."
Wolff is refusing to give any indication as to Williams' driver line-up for next year, although has hinted he would like Maldonado to remain, unsurprising given the fortune provided by backers PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil and gas company.
Asked about targets for next year, Wolff said: "In 2013 we will have a carry-over of the car so I'd like to see us in the points more regularly.
"Pastor hopefully stays with us and has learned his lessons - so the next logical step would be the top six in the constructors' - or even top five.
"In 2014 all is new - new car, new engine - so everything is up in the air again, but nevertheless I see us as one of the top teams. "Whether this means winning races regularly or challenging for the championship, I don't know, but the perception should be that this team is winning races and is on the podium regularly."