(Lotus F1 Team)
The Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya holds special memories for Pastor Maldonado as it here where the Venezuelan claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory and to date his only victory driving for the Williams F1 Team in 2012.
Maldonado heads to this year’s race hoping to open his account for 2015 with the Lotus F1 Team as it has been his team mate Romain Grosjean who has picked up the points for the Enstone outfit so far this season.
Taking part in a Q&A with the Enstone outfit prior to next weekend’s Grand Prix, Maldonado was asked:
The Spanish Grand Prix holds a special place for you…
It’s very special – mostly because we see a lot of Venezuelan support there, also because it’s the first race back in Europe, and of course, because it’s nice to have won there.
Hopefully we’ll see a good result there for the team and some points for me!
Tell us about the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Overall Catalunya is tough for the cars, drivers and teams because everyone knows the track so well and you have to fight for every thousandth of a second. There are obviously races that are much closer to Venezuela in a geographic sense, but Barcelona is special for me because there is a huge community of Venezuelans close by and of course my mother tongue is Spanish. So I hope to see a lot of flags around the track and some great support as usual. It’s always good to race in front of your fans and I am determined to continue my good record here. The circuit has certainly been very good for me in the past, with the win in 2012 being the highlight. A top ten in qualifying will be our first focus and then it’ll be a very tough race in terms of tyre management, with a lot of pit stops and strategy.
What will be your target this year in Barcelona?
To win…! The aim is always to get 100% from the package, to know we’ve achieved the best possible. So a win might not be on the cards just yet but we are definitely able to fight for good points.
How would you review your first four races of the season – what have been the positives and where can improvements be found?
It was a complicated start to the season, the first four races were tough. It wasn’t easy to be hit by other drivers for both Australia and Malaysia! I think we learnt a lot from the first two races however as we made a good jump in performance by the Chinese Grand Prix because we had learnt so much about our car. We are closer to our rivals, the teams we’re targeting for the championship, and our race pace improved significantly. It’s getting better and better.
How would you evaluate the E23 Hybrid this first quarter of the 2015 season?
It’s a good car. Immediately, the first day we tested the E23, the potential was clearly there. There are still areas to develop but it’s looking very good. If we go back just a few months ago to where we were with the E22, it’s a huge improvement in comparison. It’s not just the change of engine, the chassis is working much better. The entire package has good potential for this season.
You’ve been here at Enstone this week to do some simulator work, how important is it for your and the team’s preparation for the next race?
It’s very important. We start with a debrief in a way, where we compare the simulator runs with the race we have just completed, to make sure that the information we get from the sim is as accurate as possible. If not, we work to make it more realistic, and if it’s okay, we move on to testing various things for the next races.
What do you remember about the win in 2012?
It was a great day in my career, a strong race and victory over Fernando Alonso in his home event. We really deserved it because we did it on merit and under big pressure from the Ferrari all race. People forget that we were outside the top ten on Friday and then everything came together. We qualified second - pole after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified - and I knew there was a chance to win the race. I just felt so calm and ready to win. That weekend, after being 17th in first practice, shows why you must never give up in Formula 1. It also gave me more confidence because my first year in F1 had been difficult, but as soon as the car was competitive I was up there, fighting with the top drivers. My mentality changed and this now drives me forward when times are tough.
© Ben Johnston 2015