23 March 2015
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix: Maldonado keen to make up for ‘missed top five’
Pastor Maldonado believes that, despite a truncated Australian Grand Prix, this year's F1 challenger from Lotus can be a regular contender from Malaysia onwards.
Pastor Maldonado hopes that next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix lasts a little longer for him than the season-opener in Melbourne, even if it doesn't yield the sort of result he felt was possible 'down under'.
An already-bizarre Australian Grand Prix, which had seen five cars fail to take the start, then lost both Lotus entries on the opening lap, with Romain Grosjean's mechanically-induced retirement preceded by Maldonado being tipped into the barriers at turn one.
The Venezuelan has always maintained that he was an innocent victim of the usual opening corner skirmish at Albert Park but the early exit was all the more galling given the lack of reliability and, in some cases, performance elsewhere in the field.
“Everything looked very positive for a strong top ten finish, maybe even top five,” Maldonado claimed, “Our car was strong and we adapted to the track well. The weather was in our favour and we had great potential but, from our perspective, it was a very short race!
“It was really frustrating as the car looked good all weekend – better even than it had looked in testing – and we had good potential with our race pace and durability. Then my race was undone in the first corners. There was nothing I could do as there was contact occurring behind me which then collected my car.
“It was difficult to look at the damage done to the car as I knew how hard all the crew in the pits and the rest of the team at Enstone had been working. That's motor racing sometimes, unfortunately...”
Even though the addition of Mercedes power has rejuvenated Lotus over the winter, the team has yet to show that it can challenge the works team – or even Ferrari and Mercedes-powered Williams – on a regular basis, but Maldonado remains optimistic that the Enstone squad can do well in Malaysia, even if a top five finish is unlikely.
“It's still very early in the season, so there will still be surprises as teams learn their cars and unlock their potential and, certainly, everything we've seen so far with the E23 suggests that it should be a good all-rounder,” he reasoned.
“Sepang can get very hot, and our car seems to like hot conditions so that could be a point in our favour. It is a good track and I really like the challenges it presents. It's very interesting from an engineering point of view, especially the aerodynamics, but also the tyres because the asphalt is very aggressive. Hopefully the race will be much longer for us than it was in Australia!”
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