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Pastor Maldonado Q&A: F1 is the next logical step 18 Nov 2010

Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW23. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW23. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams talks with Patrick Head (GBR) Williams Director of Engineering. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Hispania F1 Racing Team (HRT) HRT F1. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Hispania F1 Racing Team (HRT) HRT F1. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010.

Although there’s been no official confirmation, the paddock rumour mill is tipping 2010 GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado for the second Williams seat alongside Rubens Barrichello next season. With state support from his home country of Venezuela and title-winning talent, Maldonado is certainly a hot property on the driver market and this week he’s been testing for both Williams and HRT…

Q: Pastor, everyone assumes you’ll be in the Williams cockpit next season. Why hasn’t it been confirmed yet?
Pastor Maldonado:
At the moment, no comment on that.

Q: You are GP2 champion, which tends to lead to a Formula one seat. It must mean a lot to you?
PM:
It is always important to win such a prestigious championship. And indeed it was a great season for me. I’ve been with a completely new team and that makes the results even more appreciable. If you win such a championship you definitely hope that Formula One is the next logical step.

Q: So we will see you on the Formula One grid in 2011?
PM:
I definitely hope so, but that should be normal after the GP2 title. I am working very hard to be here. I have the results and I feel prepared to make the jump. Of course I hope to be in a good team.

Q: On the first day of the young driver test you drove for HRT and then on Wednesday you were in the Williams. What was your impression of both cars?
PM:
There is of course some difference. I am pretty happy because I’ve learned a lot over the last two days trying two different Formula One cars and two different teams. It was not the first time that I’ve driven a Formula One car - that was a Minardi in 2004 - but the times and the cars were pretty different then, so you could almost say that’s my first time…again. It was so great to get this two-car test opportunity because your learning pace is much bigger in a much shorter time. There is a huge difference between a GP2 car and an F1 car so it is always a huge step forward. I think I did quite well.

Q: How did the HRT and the Williams differ?
PM:
The biggest difference is the downforce. But I also have to say that today the track had improved a lot compared to Tuesday, so from the times it is difficult to say. My important mission over these days has been to learn. For a rookie it is always difficult to step up to Formula One.

Q: Why are you testing for both HRT and Williams? It is rather unusual…
PM:
The reason is to be able to do all four test days and to get as much mileage as possible. The next two test days will be with the new Pirelli tyres - and that is extra important. It will be new to everybody so we are all starting from the same level.

Q: Where are you based at the moment?
PM:
I am living in Italy at the moment. But I am visiting Venezuela as often as I can. I get huge support from my country. It has been a long time since one of my countrymen made it into Formula One. It was Johnny Cecotto at the beginning of the eighties and since then there has been a little bit of a drought.

Q: Is Johnny Cecotto a hero for you?
PM:
Not only for me. He is a hero in Venezuela. He was a MotoGP champion and he was very successful in touring cars for BMW.

Q: You are supported by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and also the Venezuelan state government. How did that happen?
PM:
There is a project for young Venezuelan drivers to help them step up to higher categories in motorsport. This project started in 2005. At that time I was driving in the World Series.

Q: How important is that support?
PM:
It is very important, as my sponsor is not only a company but also the state of Venezuela. The main money comes from the government who want to support us young guys. But it is not only me but also the other young drivers from Venezuela like Rodolfo Gonzalez, Milka Duno and Ernesto Jose Viso. Actually the support goes far beyond Formula One. Our country wants to encourage young sports talents to follow a path of professional sport and is willing to invest in its talents.

Q: Did you ever have any heroes in Formula One racing?
PM:
Actually all the guys who raced for the title this season. Because in F1 you have to be the top drivers in the world!

Q: When did you start your racing career?
PM:
I started karting when I was seven years-old. In my hometown of Maracay there’s the biggest kart track in the country and my father took me there, where there is also a real race track. When you start it is not that you think you could make a profession out of it. At first it is just fun and passion. But at one point you probably see that you have enough talent to take it further and I knew that I could make it when I was racing Formula Renault in 2004. In 2003 I started to race in Europe and then Formula One becomes the destiny of your dreams and ambitions.

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