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Pastor Maldonado Q&A: Canada a turning point for Lotus

18 Jun 2015

It’s been a tough start to 2015 for Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado. Despite some typically spirited drives, the Venezuelan has been plagued by reliability problems, meaning he has finished only two of seven Grands Prix. However, after his seventh place at the last round in Canada, he believes his and the team’s fortunes are about to change, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com in Austria ahead of this weekend’s Spielberg race…

Q: Pastor, whenever there is some unusual action in a race, it seems your name is linked to it. Can you explain that?

Pastor Maldonado: I don’t know. What can I say other than I don’t know…

Q: Do you sometimes feel that you’re one of the few who maintains the racing tradition of overtaking in its truest sense?

PM: Well, this now is a different Formula One to what it was in the past. For sure I am one of the drivers who take more risks. Sometimes it’s in a good way - when I do some amazing overtaking everyone is happy - and sometimes the manoeuvres don’t work and everyone is pointing at me. But that is normal when you are kind of a public person - and even more so in Formula One. You are one of only 20 guys in the world, so the whole world is watching you. Of course I made mistakes in my career - but at the same time I also did pretty well.

Q: So where have all the risk-takers gone?

PM: It is very different now. You have DRS - all the tools for a driver to pass on the straights - so nobody risks body-to-body contact by overtaking in the corners. Maybe you can have good races - I had some good races starting from P12 and going to P7 with very good overtaking - but it is not very often. I think many people wait for me to do something ‘different’ in race - to bring some emotion to it! (laughs)

Q: It’s your fifth F1 season. What has changed since you entered?

PM: Looking at myself, I have gained experience. I am more mature now. I have learned a lot from my early years in F1. I learned a lot when racing for Williams and from my first year at Lotus, which was very tough. I probably did not join the team not at the best moment, but this is not meant to be negative. It prepared me for better things to come. I feel very strong right now. My race pace is very good - it always is. Qualifying pace is there as well. Sure, not like Mercedes’ or Ferrari’s, but I always try to get the maximum out of the car. I feel good here. It is much about confidence. Both ways. And we are making progress. When you consider we were nowhere last season, we are well on our way to rebuilding. Lotus has always been very competitive and for sure to get back there is not easy these days: you need money for development. But with what we have, the outlook is pretty promising.

Q: Lotus team boss Gerard Lopez says that you have incredible pace - so why is it so difficult to bring that home from time to time?

PM: Ha, but let’s talk about this year: I had a very hard start into the season. Why? Many factors played a role. At the first two races I was hit by another driver in the first corner - there you go. In the third race - China - I made a mistake. And from China to Monaco we’ve always had problems with the car - reliability issues. Unfortunately they were happening mostly to my car

Q: Of the seven races so far you have only finished two. How annoying is that situation? To be so far below your potential…

PM: It is very annoying. But on the other side it is making me stronger, character wise. One of the tougher moments was Monaco, as I’ve always been very quick in Monaco and I was in a good position only to realize that after one lap I had brake failure. I was really confident on this track so it was very unpleasant having to stop the race. The last race - Canada - was very clean, with a very good pace. So my hope is that we have left that bad beginning of the season behind us and that from Canada onwards until the end of the season we will be the poster boys when it comes to consistency (laughs) and that all the negatives are now behind us.

Q: Canada did indeed provide a glimmer of hope with your seventh-place finish. What was so different there - and what was different on the car?

PM: We didn’t change anything on the car - we just didn’t have any problems in the race. It sounds simple but is not. It is not that others don’t have problems with their cars, but they are lucky to have their issues in the free practice sessions - and have a clean race. With me it was always the other way around: no issues in free practice, but always in the race. Luck has to change though - and hopefully the turnaround started in Canada.

Q: Austria is a high-speed track. What does that mean for your chances of more points?

PM: I love this track, so if the car loves it as well… let’s wait and see. I hope that we can finish between sixth, seventh or eighth place. Maybe like Canada. My guess is that the car will be okay.

Q: The next race after Austria is the team’s home Grand Prix at Silverstone. Will Lotus bring a bigger upgrade package, as some of the other teams are planning to do?

PM: I hope that we will bring something. How big? I have no idea. But anything is welcomed. Even if it is a tiny part, it doesn’t matter - put it on the car! In the past every time we’ve brought something new it has worked - so all I can say is bring on the new parts! That would be very welcome.