Friday, 6 March 2015

Q&A with the Lotus F1 Team's Pastor Maldonado

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado heads into his second season with the Enstone outfit having joined from the Williams F1 Team at the end of the 2013 season. The Venezuelan endured a difficult first season in Enstone as he secured just 2 points for the team.

Like his team mate Maldonado has shown impressive pace with the new E23 Hybrid and will be hoping for some strong points scoring finishes throughout the season ahead with the new Mercedes power unit in the back of the Lotus. Maldonado had an unfortunate end to his test in Barcelona as he crashed the E23 Hybrid.

The car should be able to bring him and Romain Grosjean back up the grid this season fighting for regular points and possible podium finishes this season. The Venezuelan took part in a Q and A session.

How excited are you heading to Australia?

I’m very excited and I can’t wait to start racing again. We have a new car, it’s a new season, I’m fitter than I’ve ever been before, so we’re all eager to get back to action.

How happy are you with the team’s pre-season preparations?

I’m happy with what we’ve learnt this winter, and it’s a completely different situation from last year. We’re much stronger and better prepared for 2015. We’ve done more than 4500km in testing so it’s interesting what we’ve learnt and we’ll be able to put everything into practice in Australia and with the development of the car.

What are your impressions of the E23 Hybrid?

My feeling is this car is much better that last year’s car and not just in one area but with every aspect of the car. Obviously, it’s been good to work with the Mercedes power unit, but that’s just one part as the whole package is very promising and it looks to have good potential for the rest of the year.

What do you think of Australia?

It’s a great country and Melbourne is a wonderful city. It’s just great. I always love races that are close to the city because you have more people coming and it really feels like you are involved and part of their life for the short time you are there. There are all the benefits of the city to appreciate and the fans really get behind the event. It’s maybe one of the best races of the year.

What are the challenges of Albert Park?

To be honest I love the track. The main challenges are that the track surface changes a lot over the weekend, especially from free practice to qualifying. The drivers and engineers need to try to predict how the track is going to evolve, especially for qualifying as this is crucial for the final position on Sunday. Another challenge is the weather as you never know what it will do – even during the course of each day.

Where do you expect Lotus F1 Team to be in the pecking order?

Certainly we’ll be in the fight! We’re working hard to improve and we’ve seen that the reigning champions have set a very high standard with their 2015 car. The difference between them and the rest of the field looks quite big after pre-season testing, but behind them the group is getting more compact. There should be a good mix of Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and us which should make things interesting.

Should the Australian Grand Prix give a good guide for the rest of the year?

In terms of how the car performs, Albert Park is probably not the best gauge as it’s not a permanent race track and it’s unique in many different ways. Certainly, if we go well there we’ll be happy, but if it doesn’t go to plan then that won’t be the end of the world as it’s one of twenty races and it’s a very distinct circuit.

How much potential is there for development of the E23 from its starting point?

It’s quite exciting as it’s our first season with a new power unit supplier so in some respects we’re starting from zero while others are developing more from where they were last year. Our package is much better than last year’s, but against others we have to wait and see; we won’t know where we stand until after the first few races. We’ll try to develop in every way. It’s interesting with the car feeling have improved as well as engine response. A lot depends on how the first few races go, and then we will make developments for the future.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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