Pastor Maldonado: “The E23 should be a good all-rounder”

The Lotus F1 Team saw both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado qualify inside the top ten for the Australian Grand Prix, but both were out of the race before the conclusion of the opening lap, one with a mechanical problem and the other due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maldonado was nudged into a lurid spin into the barriers at turn two at Albert Park when on course to jump into the top five, and felt frustrated to see his race come to an early end when the potential was there for a good result.

“From our perspective it was a very short race,” said Maldonado. “It was really frustrating as the car looked good all weekend – better even than it had looked in testing – and we had good potential with our race pace and durability.

“Then my race was undone in the first corners. There was nothing I could do as there was contact occurring behind me which then collected my car. It was difficult to look at the damage done to the car as I knew how hard all the crew in the pits and the rest of the team at Enstone had been working.

“That’s motor racing sometimes, unfortunately. I didn’t see much of the rest of the race but I was told it wasn’t the most exciting. Hopefully we’ll be in action for all of the Malaysian Grand Prix to ensure it’s better to watch, and better for our results!”

Maldonado believes that this early in the season, Formula 1 can throw up some surprises, and does not expect the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang to be predictable as teams and drivers continue to learn about their new machinery.

“It’s still very early in the season so there will still be surprises as teams learn their cars and unlock their potential,” insisted Maldonado.

“Certainly, everything we’ve seen so far with the E23 suggests that it should be a good all-rounder. Sepang can get very hot, and our car seems to like hot conditions so that could be a point in our favour.”

The Venezuelan admits to liking the challenges the Sepang circuit in Malaysia offers to both drivers and engineers alike, but is mostly hoping for a longer Grand Prix than he managed in Australia.

“Sepang is a good track and I really like the challenges it presents,” said Maldonado. “It’s very interesting from an engineering point of view, especially the aerodynamics, but also the tyres because the asphalt is very aggressive.

“From the driving point of view it is quite stressful as well. All round, I would say Sepang is one of the toughest races of the year. We’ll need to be strong in all areas. Hopefully the race will be much longer for us than it was in Australia!”