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MOTORSPORT: Maldonado's out to keep calm at Lotus
6:00am Saturday 15th March 2014 in Sport
Pastor Maldonado is determined to prove he can keep his fiery temper in check after swapping a potentially winning Williams for a lacklustre Lotus.
As part of a Williams team enduring the worst season in the Grove marque’s illustrious history last year, Maldonado announced shortly before the end of the campaign he was quitting to join Enstone-based Lotus.
With hindsight, the decision appears to be a wretched one as Williams proved in pre-season testing they will be one of the teams to beat.
As for Lotus, after skipping the first test due to the late build of their car, they completed the lowest mileage of the 11 teams over the second and third tests in Bahrain due to a litany of problems.
Their issues are reportedly so bad the cars may struggle to complete the first lap of tomorrow’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Indeed, only Romain Grosjean actually managed to post a time in yesterday’s final practice.
That could be the spark that ignites Maldonado’s ire as he has been known to vent his fury in the past when situations do not go his way.
But the 29-year-old is ready to show his calm side, as he said: “In the past I have had a very bad experience sometimes, but sometimes I have had a very good experience.
“It’s normal you have bad days – not only as the driver, but even for the team.
“I am like that: human and not a robot like you, like all of you. I’m just driving the car.
“I’m fully focused on racing, on doing my best, so we need to work hard to try to solve all of the problems and at the moment it’s quite tough.
“The cars are very complicated and we need to go very deep on small details, so we need more focus on the car rather than other things.
“So here I am, very optimistic, looking forward and being positive while working very hard with my team.”
Despite seemingly jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire in switching from Williams to Lotus, Maldonado insists he has no regrets.
“They (Williams) have a good car, working quite hard from what they had last year – that’s obvious,” the Venezuelan added.
“From an aerodynamic point of view, the car is very similar to what we had last year. It’s the (Mercedes) engine making the difference at the moment.
“It’s a good team, as they have shown in the past, although they had some years without success. But they’ve a great place in Grove with good people working.
“But I’m also in a good team who have won in the past and who have a good factory, so why not have a good car? I’ve no worries.”
Meanwhile, Sir Frank Williams feels it is imperative his team capitalise on the rules overhaul for this season if his Grove-based outfit are to forget the pain of the worst campaign in their history.
After amassing a paltry five points in 2013, Williams certainly came out fighting in pre-season testing as their latest car proved reliable and quick.
The Williams form was such that, along with Mercedes, they head into tomorrow’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix as one of the favourites to take the chequered flag.
Leading their attempted comeback will be Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, who has joined from Ferrari, and his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
With just one win to their name over the last nine-and-a-half years, the fact Williams are poised to spring from near the back of the grid to the front is testament to the new sweeping regulation changes that have been introduced for this season.
“A team like Williams, with our history, facilities, and personnel, should be mixing it up at the sharp end of the grid,” said team principal Williams.
“The regulation changes have reset the field to some extent, and we need to capitalise on this opportunity.
“I’m under no illusion it will take time for our new technical team to make their mark.
“But I will be looking for us to make a strong improvement from last year and regularly finish in the points at a wide range of circuits.
“Reliability will be paramount in the first few races of the season and we are looking strong in that regard.”
Elsewhere, Max Chilton is ready to end Marussia’s points drought after becoming a fitness freak over the winter.
After four seasons in Formula 1 without a point, the Banbury marque stand poised to rid themselves of such a horrid statistic.
“I’m more motivated and physically ready than I ever have been,” said Chilton, whose teammate is Jules Bianchi.
“Everyone always says they have trained more over the winter than they have ever done, but with me that is 100 per cent true.
“I had two weeks off after Brazil (the final race of last season), but then after that I trained every single day more than ever, bar one Sunday and Christmas Day.
“I approached it well, I feel really ready for this season, and it would mean everything to me to claim the team’s first point.”
Leafield's Caterham complete Oxfordshire’s teams in 2014, with Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi their drivers.
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