Lotus has confirmed that it will continue for the 2015 season with the man who plays Pastor Maldonado.
Sniff Petrol spoke exclusively to British actor Lysander Cretchley who has been the hapless Venezuelan driver for the past four years.
‘It’s a simply wonderful part and I’m delighted to stay in the role next year,’ Cretchley said, relaxing in the Lotus motorhome during last week’s Abu Dhabi test session. ‘We have such fun with Pastor. To me, he’s a mix of Zorro, Inspector Clouseau and a very confused monkey. Such fun!’
‘Although I was born in London, my mother is of Spanish descent and I think that gave me the right look for the part,’ Cretchley reveals. ‘Although of course, the wonderful make-up artists have enhanced Pastor’s look, particularly around the eyes to really bring out that sense of deep set panic and bafflement.’
However, Cretchley admits there is some overlap between real life and the part he plays. ‘I’m no method actor and I have to confess, I can’t actually drive!’ he chuckles. ‘But that works perfectly with the role. Every time I put the car into the wrong gear, spin off the track at the first turn, or run over a mechanic’s foot it we all have a laugh about it. ‘That’s Pastor!’ we say!’
‘Of course, if we’re planning something really tricky like a big crash or a run-in with another driver, my stunt double Pietro will be in the car,’ Cretchley reveals. ‘When the writers decided that Pastor should actually win a race, Pietro did all the hard work. That was an easy day for me! I just had to go up onto the podium and look pleased, but also a bit scared and confused.’
F1 fans may wonder why Lotus is persevering with a RADA trained actor playing a hapless buffoon when it could put a proper driver in the car, something Cretchley is quick to explain. ‘Well the cover story has always been that Pastor brings a lot of money to the team,’ he says, sipping a peppermint tea. ‘But the truth is, having a bungling oaf in the car brings levity to the Formula 1 story arc, and a proper driver wouldn’t get the Lotus on television half as much as I do by blundering about the place sliding onto the grass for no apparent reason on a sighting lap!’
‘Oooh nooo, I haf poooshed the wroooong pedale again!’ Cretchley quips, slipping seamlessly into Maldonado’s distinctive accent. ‘It’s a wonderful role and I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got planned for next season. Suffice to say, he’s not going to get any better at driving!’