Many believe that the oil sponsor-fuelled Venezuelan and his penchant for crashing was bad for the sport, but Salo thinks that Maldonado was actually a character to follow.
Asked if he will be missed, the former Ferrari driver told Finnish broadcaster MTV: "It's hard to say. Maldonado was a character from the moment he entered F1. OK, some of his crashes were completely incomprehensible, but I think the series needs someone like that in a way.
"Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, but crashes are good entertainment for the fans. And the sport is entertainment at the end of the day.
"At some times Maldonado was a bit dangerous, but he seemed to be calming down as time went on as well."
Kevin Magnussen will replace Maldonado at Renault, racing alongside Jolyon Palmer.