17 May 2014
Maldonado takes Monaco boost from Barcelona F1 test
Claiming that Lotus has made 'an incredible step forward', Pastor Maldonado is looking forward to returning to the F1 track he calls 'the special one'.
Pastor Maldonado's winter move from Williams to Lotus has so far proved to be a fraught one, but the mercurial Venezuelan is determined to build on the recent promise shown during testing.
Maldonado has yet to score a point in 2014, while Williams has enjoyed better race and qualifying performances, but team-mate Romain Grosjean's opening score in Spain, allied to a strong testing result from the ensuing session in Barcelona, has given Maldonado more optimism heading to the race he dubs 'the special one'.
While early engine woes did little to boost Lotus' hopes of breaching the top ten, a lot of Maldonado's problems have been self-made, with an accident in Q1 at the Spanish Grand Prix prolonging a miserable run of qualifying results for the former Barcelona race winner, but he insists that last week's testing performance – which saw him top the times on day two - have raised expectations throughout the Enstone camp.
“I would say it was our first 'normal' test without any problems and we were able to complete our entire schedule,” he reported, “It was really important and a very positive test because we learnt so much more about the car. Everything is getting better and better in my opinion. Of course, I'm happy with the result as well.
“The car has made a big step forward from where we were. The focus of the test was to continue to develop settings and try new ideas. It was a busy programme to be honest, but hopefully the rest of the season will be much better for us. We got a lot of data which our engineers took back to the factory to analyse in detail.
“I think it's a great boost for everyone at Enstone and, of course, as a driver, it gives me more confidence in the car, so I can aim to achieve better results. If you think about where we were and where we are now, it is an incredible step forward – particularly when the other teams are moving forward with their development too. It's a true testament to the team's capabilities and I hope we can start to get the results on track that we so deserve. For sure Mercedes is the strongest team at the moment, but we are focused and pushing hard to catch them.”
Maldonado enjoyed a strong relationship with Monaco in the junior formulae and, once an early World Series by Renault nightmare was overcome, he proved to be largely unbeatable around the Principality. With the strong Barcelona test behind him, the Venezuelan is keen to carry the momentum back to one of his favourite circuits.
“It's such an historic grand prix and an iconic race for F1 - I really love it,” he enthused, “I've been very quick in the past and I think it is one of the most special weekends of the year. The atmosphere is unique. The track is really challenging and changes a lot over the sessions, which you need to anticipate. It's difficult to be quick close to the walls and, overall, it's a very tough race, demanding in terms of concentration and stressful physically and mentally. The only negative thing is that it is quite difficult to overtake - but it is not impossible.
“We will be very busy in the cockpit with all the switches and changes to be made. We're also going to face a big challenge as the tyres are harder than those we've used in Monaco in the past, so that'll be a big question mark.”
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