Pastor Maldonado finally secured his first points of 2014 with a fighting race to ninth at Austin, and the Lotus F1 Team driver now moves onto the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos with extra confidence.
Maldonado finally secured his first points of the season with ninth place in Austin last weekend, and the Venezuelan admitted it was a relief to finally score his first points as a Lotus driver, although his focus is already on to this weekend’s race at Interlagos.
“[It was] like a weight was lifted from my shoulders,” said Maldonado. “But as soon as you reach one milestone, it’s straight onto the next. So our focus is already to try and do better this weekend in Brazil. It’s important to remember that we were competitive for most of the weekend in Austin – even though we dedicated some time to trying things like the 2015 evaluation nose in practice – and we need to continue like that for the next two races.
“The car has felt better and better to drive and we’ve been able to get more from it over the last few races. We’ll discount Sochi as we struggled so much to get the tyres to work there, but apart from that event, when the car was reliable we’ve been able to push quite well on different circuits so that’s been a real bonus.
“Together with the team we have been learning quite a lot about the car and have found a setting that gives me the confidence to really push, but also stay consistent and manage the tyres. We are continuing to develop in that direction so I’m really excited for the remaining races and especially next year’s car.”
Looking ahead to Brazil, he hopes to have another strong race to please the large number of Venezuelan fans who make the trip across the border from his homeland.
“Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure but it is a great, historic circuit,” said Maldonado. “I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people – there will be a lot of Venezuelans there! Hopefully we can have a great race and put on a good show for the South American fans.”
He admits the track in Brazil is tricky to get a good set-up on, with the long straight and the twisty part making it hard to get a good balance. He is hopeful of getting the set-up right this weekend so to be able to be in position to finish in the points for a second consecutive weekend.
“Technically it’s always tricky to find a set-up balance between the twisty parts of the circuit and the long straights,” insisted Maldonado. “In an ideal world you’d want Monza-spec for the start and end of the lap and Hungaroring-spec for the rest! Different drivers and teams will make different compromises, which all adds up to an interesting race.
“Bumps can also be an issue and there are several overtaking opportunities on the track which reward late braking, both to go on the attack and keep rivals behind. There has also been some resurfacing at the track so we’ll have the challenge we are faced with any new surface of understanding the grip levels and how they change over the course of the weekend. When we get the tyres working and don’t have low speed corners at a circuit we’re capable of pretty decent performance.”
“Last but not least the unpredictable weather is sure to keep us on our toes. We’ve seen some epic races in Interlagos where wet weather has been a factor, and thunderstorms are present. It’s a challenging circuit in the dry and even more so in the wet, but there have been some amazing races over the years because of this. Whatever the weather, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible”