After completing his first full race distance for Lotus in Bahrain, Pastor Maldonado is eager to continue the progress at the Chinese Grand Prix weekend in Shanghai.
What are your thoughts on Shanghai as a circuit?
Shanghai is a very technical circuit with one of the longest straights of the season. It could be a bit tricky for us as we aren’t the quickest on long straights at the moment, so we will have to see how we can work on making gains in the corners. This will be the challenge for us. There is a mix of fast and medium speed corners where we need good downforce. It is a challenging track which I like, so I’m looking forward to racing there.
What do you think the latest generation F1 car will be like to drive at Shanghai?
It will be like all the circuits we visit this year, it will be a new experience and we will learn and make improvements as the weekend progresses. Having finished the race in Bahrian, we have more experience and data to work with so we are better placed for a more progressive approach to the race weekend.
How was testing in Bahrain?
Not so great. Power unit issues meant that we weren’t able to run the programme that we had set out to complete. This was frustrating; however we did achieve some of the aerodynamic assessment work that we wanted to achieve.
How did it feel to complete your first full race for the team in Bahrain?
It was a tough weekend, especially as the pace of the car wasn’t what we hoped for, but at the same time we were able to finish all the sessions and the race without any problems. That was a big positive in terms of reliability. I also think that the collaborative work with Renault Sport F1 is helping us make steps forward. The E22 is improving, and race reliability was the first step in this process. Now we need to focus on performance. I think that the potential is there, we just need to focus and continue to push hard.
Have you spoken with Esteban or seen the footage of the incident?
Yes, we have been in touch. I think it was a misunderstanding from both sides. He was out of line in the entry of the corner and I was completely committed to the corner. He said that he didn’t see me, and I didn’t expect him to turn in.
How was your race until then?
The car felt much better in the race than during Qualifying. The pace was quite good, the tyre management and the strategy was also promising. We were able to make up some positions and we were also consistent throughout. We still need to push harder in order to be in the top ten and I know that the team is committed to getting there as soon as possible.
What is your target for the next few races?
The target is to score points and I think that it is possible to make steps forwards, especially in qualifying. The race pace is not bad but we need to start higher on the grid. If we start in the top ten it will be easier for us to fight for good points.
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