After seeing his first points for Lotus slip away in Canada, Pastor Maldonado is happy to be heading back to Austria for Formula 1’s first visit since 2003.
What are your thoughts ahead of Austria?
I know the track, but it was maybe ten years ago when I last raced there and it will be new for me in an F1 car. I think it should be quite good for the E22. It looks like the circuit doesn’t have too many low speed corners and the downforce and set-up is similar to Barcelona, which should help us. We will work hard to solve the problems we had in Canada so that we can reach our targets in Austria. I’m certainly optimistic that Austria will suit us better than the last two rounds.
What were the positives and negatives from Canada?
The main positive was that we were fighting for points, easily. The strategy was quite good: Starting on Prime tyres and planning only one stop. It was difficult in terms of grip at the beginning and we lost some places, which we expected because the other guys were on Super-soft tyres. But the pace came and I was competitive. We started 17th and were up to eighth place. Then we had a power unit problem and had to retire. I know we’ve had retirements before, but this was particularly difficult as we have really made progress and we could have finished well despite starting the race from so far back.
How is your morale after two tough races?
I am very motivated. I think we have some good weekends ahead of us and there are still so many races to go. The European part of the season is very important for us, so let’s push hard, do our best and for sure we will be in the points soon.
Do you like racing in Europe?
I like to be racing anywhere! I have raced for many years in Europe and so many of the junior categories are there. Of course, I would love to race at home too, but racing anywhere is what you want to do as a race driver. I would race on the moon if there was a race track there!
What do you remember about your last race in Austria?
It was in Formula Renault and I finished on the podium. Actually I think I won, but I don’t remember to be honest! It’s a high downforce track. Most of the corners are very quick, especially in the second sector. It’s a lot of fun to race there and I’m happy to be going back.
How is the relationship with the team?
We all know what we have to do and we are all pushing hard. Yes, we can all get frustrated, but ultimately we all want to achieve success so we remain positive. We can see how much improvement there has been with pace from the car and once we have all the reliability issues sorted we’ll be regularly fighting for points. Once we’re there, the next target is to fight for more points and then podiums. We’ve seen that the Mercedes are not perfect and can be beaten. Even they had reliability issues in Canada.
Given the start to your season, does your outlook change?
No, I still keep pushing and it’s still possible to achieve good things this year. We have had a third of the season which has been a challenge – a big challenge – but we still have two thirds of the year to go with many circuits which should suit our car. You arrive at every track with the target of having the best weekend possible and finding as much performance from the car and yourself. This does not change if you’ve had a difficult last weekend in the car. I can’t wait to get out in FP1 in Austria.