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Maldonado back in points as Chavez win brightens future

Pastor Maldonado's first F1 points in ten races coincided with victory for Hugo Chavez in the Venezuelan presidential elections, boosting his hopes of remaining in the top flight.
Pastor Maldonado finally returned to the top ten of a grand prix, breaking a non-scoring run that stretched back to his historic victory in May's Spanish Grand Prix. However, an even bigger result than either of those may have gone his way on Sunday night.

Despite his lack of results in recent months - his best finish since Barcelona was eleventh at Monza in September - the Venezuelan had been considered a cert to remain at Williams next season, courtesy of the substantial backing he brings from his homeland. However, with elections taking place while he was recovering from his exertions in Japan, Maldonado's position suddenly appeared weaker than it had at first.

President Hugo Chavez was said to be facing the toughest election opponent in his 14 years at the head of the government, with Henrique Capriles' promise of 'jobs, safer streets and an end to cronyism' posing a viable threat to the 'charisma and oil-financed largesse' attributed to the man in power. Chavez has been an eager backer of Venezuelan talent in recent seasons, with EJ Viso, Maldonado and even Rodolfo Gonzalez benefitting from oil-related funding. The president, however, has only recently overcome a battle with cancer and was thought to be under threat of losing his control in favour of an opponent not necessarily disposed to funding the overseas exploits of his countrymen.

Despite the doubts, however, Chavez prevailed over Capriles when the votes were counted, gaining a six-year extension to his reign by garnering around nine per cent more backing than his rival. The new term will undoubtedly see Chavez build on his current rule over the economy, which has witnessed the decade-long oil boom facilitating social investments as well as sponsorship, making the president particularly popular with the poorer elements of society.

For Maldonado and Williams, the news could come as confirmation of their relationship next season, although it won't necessarily make the Grove team's line-up choice any easier, as Bruno Senna and Valtteri Bottas remain candidates for the second seat.

Both Maldonado and Senna drove a solid race in the Japanese Grand Prix, before finishing eighth and 14th respectively. The Venezuelan moved up four places from his starting position to take his first points in ten races, despite complaining about the lack of passing opportunities.

"It was a good race for me," he confirmed, "The car had great pace and was very consistent, but it proved difficult to overtake, especially towards the end. We felt we were quicker than the cars in front, but the nature of the track makes it difficult to close the gap. But we're back in the points, so I'm happy with that as it gives us great confidence going into the next race."

Senna, having been confined to a lower-than-expected grid position after being blocked by Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in qualifying, was then caught out by the melee at turn one, clouting the back of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes as both sought to avoid the collision between Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber. After an unscheduled pit-stop for a new front wing, Senna's race was further compromised by being given a drive-through penalty for the incident.

"We had a good start, managing to overtake two cars but, unfortunately, I ran into an incident with Rosberg on the second corner after taking the inside line," the Brazilian reflected, "The race was slightly compromised from then on, but we still had good pace. The car felt very competitive, which allowed us to overtake quite a few cars and the tyres were responding well."

With both drivers happy with the FW34, Williams now moves on to Korea looking to build on the four points scored by Maldonado. The gap to seventh-placed Force India grew slightly in Japan, as Nico Hulkenberg finished one spot ahead of Maldonado, and now stands at 23.

"Both drivers finished higher than their starting positions and we scored four very important points with Pastor, so we can be happy with the race today," Renault Sport F1 team support leader Laurent Debout commented, "We introduced new engines this weekend and everything went to plan, so we will look to carry this momentum forward to Korea in a week's time."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
07.10.2012- Race, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams F1 Team FW34 leads Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7
05.10.2012- Free Practice 2, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams F1 Team FW34
06.10.2012- Free Practice 3, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams F1 Team FW34
05.10.2012- Free Practice 1, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams F1 Team FW34
25.06.2017 - Race, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 1st place Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13, 2nd place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13 race winner and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H leads Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40

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jose - Unregistered

October 09, 2012 8:47 AM

Simple point, Williams needs Maldonado. what the team cannot afford is the performance of teammate Senna. Not much race pace compared to Pastor, in my opinion no comparison.. Fact is Maldonado need a faster teammate.. Badman, Jose

Erich Kaufmann - Unregistered

October 08, 2012 2:22 PM

It's clear that Maldonado face during the Japanese GP showed concern ans well as his declarations. His backing from PDVESA was hanging in a slim line but his perspectives now to keep is seat are better. He is a quick pilot but unreliable as Grosjean, I think honestly his chances are purely depending in his backing.

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