Pastor Maldonado looks ahead to the third race of the season at China’s challenging Shanghai International Circuit where he hopes to be able to cause a surprise or two.
Looking back over Malaysia how was the weekend overall?
It was very good for the team that we are in a position to fight for points on a different track. It was very hot and in those conditions the car didn’t look bad. During the race, even with the damage we had from the floor after the contact from Valtteri Bottas in the first corner, our pace was very consistent. We had a couple of small reliability issues but the team’s working very hard on this, and we expect to have these resolved by China. I’m looking forward to getting out in action in Shanghai and hoping for a clean weekend when we should be able to get some points.
How frustrating was the race for you last time out after that first corner puncture?
It was frustrating, especially as by the time I’d caught up with the cars ahead we’d developed an issue with the brakes so it was difficult to attack! It’s racing. I’ve been a bit unlucky, especially in the first corners of the first two races but on the other hand we have a car which is more competitive and this says that we can fight for points through the season. The potential of the car is there, we just need to put everything together and the results will come soon.
What do you need to do to emerge through the first corner in Shanghai?
The first corner of a Grand Prix is always thrilling as you have to balance the opportunities to make up places with the risk of losing them. Certainly in the first two races this season I’ve been the victim of other drivers’ incidents and that’s racing sometimes. The first corners in Shanghai are quite interesting as you’ve got a decent run down to the right-hander that is turn one, but that flows straight into the tightening turn two so it can get pretty busy!
What are your thoughts on Shanghai as a circuit?
Shanghai is a very technical circuit with one of the longest straights of the season so it will be good to see how high a top speed we can get as we’ve been pretty strong through the speed traps so far this season. There is a mix of fast and medium speed corners where we need good downforce and overall it is a challenging track which I like, so I’m looking forward to racing there.
Do you think the car has good potential for China?
I think we should be in a similar position to that we’ve been in for the first and second race, so fighting for the top ten in qualifying and then in the race. Let’s see what the track conditions are like, the weather, how the car feels and how good a set-up we can get. I’m confident we should be fighting for good places.
You’ll go from probably one of the hottest races to likely one of the coldest – does this affect you as a driver?
It doesn’t affect you so much as a driver as you train to be fit and race ready no matter what the conditions. It has more of an effect on the car, especially if it’s cold as making the tyres work and getting them into their operating window can be a challenge. It’s true that we’ve struggled in this area in the past, but it’s something that the team have been focusing on so let’s see how we are when we get out on track.
China’s a back-to-back race with Bahrain – is this a tiring format and are there any special considerations with a back-to-back race combo?
Honestly, I prefer it when we have races like this as you are focused as it actually cuts down on the overall amount of travelling you have to do as you go straight from one destination to the next rather than flying home and then back out like we saw with Australia and Malaysia having a week between them. After Bahrain we get a bit of a break to recover, get some training and spend some time with the family before the European season begins. (Lotusf1team)