Interview with Lotus' Pastor Maldonado
1 April 2014 – Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado looks ahead to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the third round in the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Pastor, what do you think of the Bahrain International Circuit?
Bahrain is a good circuit. We’ve been there in the pre-season and I think all the teams will be happy to return, especially for the weather and the type of track. I would say it is a ‘complete’ circuit because it has a mix of high, medium and low speed turns, plus good sequences of corners. So it’s a good venue to test at, which is exactly what we need to evaluate our new developments. The facilities for the teams are great as well.
Malaysia then Bahrain, do you enjoy racing in the heat?
To be honest they are not my favourite conditions, but it’s the same for everyone so I’m not complaining. When the visor goes down it doesn’t matter. You just focus on driving.
How important has the track time been during the Malaysian weekend?
It’s the most important thing. More mileage with the car means the engineers can increasingly focus on performance. Clearly reliability is still not 100 percent, partly because of our late testing debut with the car, but we have fixed many problems and that enables us to turn more attention to performance.
How frustrating was it to suffer from issues every day of the race weekend?
Very, of course! I’m here to race so you never want to be sat in the garage when the car should be out on track. I had more than my fair share of unreliability in Malaysia, but every time we expose a problem it means we have something to fix and we take a step forwards. There were good positives in Sepang. I did get some good laps and I can feel that the E22 is a proper race car. A race car that still needs quite a lot of work, but still a race car with great potential. We saw that Romain completed a race distance, which is a great positive. We also saw our rivals having problems, showing that we are not alone with the challenges of these very different new cars.
How would you sum up Sunday at Sepang?
With [Jules] Bianchi I just felt an impact at the back of the car which spun me around. But from the start we were losing a lot of power which meant I had to retire in order to protect the engine. Despite that, the weekend was clearly a step forwards. Since the Saturday, we were able to run far more with the car and Romain was able to finish the race. We’re not the only ones with issues so early in the season. This is all related to the complex packages in the car, but we learnt a lot and will make progress for Bahrain.
What do you want from the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend?
Good reliable laps in the car would be the starting point. This will allow us to understand the car’s performance and where we can improve it. It will allow me to give feedback to my engineers and understand the challenges of driving the latest generation car. We can also work on understanding the tyres better as they are different this year, and the tyres are always an area where performance gains can be made.
Bahrain will be a night race for the first time, will that mean any special changes?
We will probably need to approach Bahrain a little differently technically now, in terms of tyre pressures and set-up. Otherwise we will treat it much like any other race and obviously we have experience from night events in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. I’m definitely looking forward to it though. It’s the first time at night in Bahrain so something new for us all to discover.