Maldonado feels ‘strong progress’ made after topping opening day

Despite causing two red flags early in the day’s proceedings at the Circuit de Catalunya, Lotus F1 Team driver Pastor Maldonado was able to put his E23 at the tope of the timing screens.

The Venezuelan, in his second season with the Enstone team, was happy to be quick in his Mercedes-powered machine, and felt it was just a normal day of driving. He also praised the progress the team had made in the two weeks since the opening test at Jerez.

“It is always good to see your name at the top of the timing monitors and my fastest lap was just in the course of our normal programme for the day,” said Maldonado. “It feels good to drive the E23 in Barcelona. The car responded well to the changes we made and we were able to complete a good number of laps.

“The team has made strong progress since Jerez and we have a great starting point for the rest of the week. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a perfect track to assess a new car so we’re happy with progress today.”

Technical Director Nick Chester revealed that the stoppages earlier in the day were software-related, but overall was happy with the work the team managed to get through on the opening day of the test in Spain.

“It’s been a positive day,” insisted Chester. “We had a couple of software niggles in the morning then we were able to work through a solid programme of set-up work during which we racked up a good number of laps. The car did have an extended lunch break whilst we changed the clutch, then we were able to complete further work in the afternoon.

“We’re happy that we’ve made good steps forward since Jerez and we’re working steadily through our evaluations whilst confirming directions for improvement.”

Test and reserve driver Jolyon Palmer gets his first taste of the E23 car on day two of the test on Friday, before Maldonado returns on Saturday. Team-mate Romain Grosjean will take the reigns of the car on the final day on Sunday.