Williams are looking to build on their promising start to the 2012 Formula One season by opening their points account in Malaysia this weekend. Pastor Maldonado ran in the top six until the final lap in Australia when he crashed at turn seven while Bruno Senna retired after colliding with Felipe Massa.
Reflecting on last weekend, Maldonado feels positive and hopes to be challenging for a top ten place again at Sepang.
“The next race in Malaysia will be a real challenge for all the teams due to the hot and humid conditions we find there. The team is feeling positive and our car looks competitive, so we’ll do our best to be in the top 10 again. I feel confident in the team and all the hard work we have done over the winter. I want to carry the momentum we had in Australia forward to get a good result in Malaysia.”
Senna also felt there were positives to be taken from the first race of the season but adds that Malaysia will provide a very different challenge to car and driver.
“It is a very tough track, very physical and the heat is a big issue in Malaysia. It will be important to get acclimatised to the heat ahead of the weekend and get a good car set-up for these conditions. We will then try to chip away and continue what we learnt in Australia. I’ve been to Sepang before so I know the track, and I’m looking forward to the race weekend.”
Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan thinks Sepang will provide a relatively normal race in terms of establishing a pecking order, with the safety car seldom seen.
“The whole team are really buzzing after the good pace shown in both qualifying and in the race in Melbourne. We are now eager to capitalise on this performance and convert it into points in Malaysia. The Sepang track is a medium speed circuit, which is quite hard on the front tyres. With this in mind, Pirelli have specified both the hard and medium tyres. Despite the high ambient temperatures, humidity and chance of late afternoon rain the likelihood of a safety car is low, and indeed is the lowest of the entire season. Aerodynamically we shall be running a similar package to that in Australia, but will probably have to open up the cooling levels to allow for the increase in ambient temperature.”