Austin: Pastor Maldonado`s future in Formula One was the subject of renewed conjecture on Monday following his high-speed collision with Adrian Sutil in Sunday`s United States Grand Prix.
The moody Venezuelan had already stirred up discussion over his on-track value to a team - despite bringing 40 million dollars in sponsorship with him - after accusing Williams of sabotage on Saturday.
He is leaving Williams to be replaced by incoming Brazilian Felipe Massa, released by Ferrari, next season and is currently linked with both the Lotus and Sauber outfits for 2014.
With a massive sponsorship deal to offer, he is effectively in a position to buy one of the remaining available seats on next season`s grid despite a reputation as an often dangerous driver.
That reputation, once tarnished by a series of collisions and rows, took a new blow when he was accused of steering his Williams into Sutil`s Force India on the back straight during the opening lap.
The collision sent the German into the barriers, wrecking his car and ending his race.
"On a very big straight, with a lot of space left and right, for some reason I got a hit on the left tyre in the middle of the straight and lost the car," said Sutil afterwards.
"It was very shocking. You`d never believe something like that, but it happened. There was no reason to be so close. I was on my line and I didn`t do anything different.
"I was staying straight with my steering wheel and to the left and right there was a lot of space. I don`t understand why someone then hits you. There`s like an emergency area around him -- you have to give room for two cars, not just one....
"What happened today could have ended differently. It was around 300 kph, touching on the rear tyre -- I could have rolled. There were still five or six behind. We want to get out of these cars alive -- you need to think a little bit sometimes."
Maldonado, whose F1 career has been punctuated by erratic performances and similar crashes, is currently looking for a new team in a competitive late-season drivers` market.
He has always appeared to be a man who behaves as if he is insulated by the massive sponsorship package he has to offer from Venezuela`s state-owned oil company.
Typically, he blamed Sutil for their accident.
Maldonado said: "It was quite strange. I didn`t expect that contact from Sutil. We were side by side and I was losing a little bit on the straight because he was moving past.
"He either didn`t see me or was thinking he was already fully ahead. My front wing was there and we touched. I have nothing against him and it is very difficult to see when the cars are side by side."
"Sometimes it`s happened to me in the past, as well, but it`s nothing really important." The Latin American`s arrogant dismissal of the incident infuriated Sutil.
He added: "Whenever you get close to him, he brakes 50 metres later than everyone else -- and he`s sometimes over the limit.
"It`s more dangerous to drive against certain drivers. Of course, many drivers have had incidents with him.
"I think for him to back off sometimes a little bit would be quite good - it gets to a stage where it could be dangerous."
Asked if he intended to discuss the incident with Maldonado, Sutil scoffed at the prospect.
"I don`t see a big point in talking to him. I`ve tried it several times, but he`s on a different planet. In the incident at Spa, he went straight into Paul (di Resta) and then said it was his fault - no, for me, it is done and over."