In his second season with the Lotus F1 Team, Pastor Maldonado believes 2015 promises to be much improved season for both him and the team after scoring just two points in 2014 for a ninth place finish in the United States.
Maldonado is itching to get started at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix as he looks to make up for a lacklustre 2014, and has prepared himself for the challenge of the twenty-race season.
“I’m very excited and I can’t wait to start racing again,” said Maldonado. “We have a new car, it’s a new season, I’m fitter than I’ve ever been before, so we’re all eager to get back to action.”
Looking over the testing period in Spain, Maldonado feels happier than he did at the same point in 2014, especially after completing so many laps around both Jerez and Barcelona. He points out that the switch from Renault to Mercedes-power has played a part, but points out that other areas where Lotus struggled in 2014 have been addressed at the same time.
“I’m happy with what we’ve learnt this winter, and it’s a completely different situation from last year,” revealed Maldonado. “We’re much stronger and better prepared for 2015. We’ve done more than 4500km in testing so it’s interesting what we’ve learnt and we’ll be able to put everything into practice in Australia and with the development of the car.
“My feeling is this car is much better that last year’s car and not just in one area but with every aspect of the car. Obviously, it’s been good to work with the Mercedes power unit, but that’s just one part as the whole package is very promising and it looks to have good potential for the rest of the year.
“We’re working hard to improve and we’ve seen that the reigning champions have set a very high standard with their 2015 car. The difference between them and the rest of the field looks quite big after pre-season testing, but behind them the group is getting more compact. There should be a good mix of Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and us which should make things interesting.
“It’s quite exciting as it’s our first season with a new power unit supplier so in some respects we’re starting from zero while others are developing more from where they were last year,” said the Venezuelan. “Our package is much better than last year’s, but against others we have to wait and see; we won’t know where we stand until after the first few races.
“We’ll try to develop in every way. It’s interesting with the car feeling have improved as well as engine response. A lot depends on how the first few races go, and then we will make developments for the future.”
Looking at the Albert Park circuit, Maldonado admits to finding it enjoyable to race on, even if the track surface changes over the weekend. In particular he reveals that this makes set-up hard to predict, as it will need to change to suit the track conditions.
“The main challenges are that the track surface changes a lot over the weekend, especially from free practice to qualifying,” said Maldonado. “The drivers and engineers need to try to predict how the track is going to evolve, especially for qualifying as this is crucial for the final position on Sunday.
“In terms of how the car performs, Albert Park is probably not the best gauge as it’s not a permanent race track and it’s unique in many different ways. Certainly, if we go well there we’ll be happy, but if it doesn’t go to plan then that won’t be the end of the world as it’s one of twenty races and it’s a very distinct circuit.”