Maldonado expects Williams surge

Maldonado expects Williams surge

Formula 1

Maldonado expects Williams surge

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Pastor Maldonado is confident Williams will be able to fight for points on a regular basis after breaking the team’s 2013 points drought in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Venezuelan finished 10th in Hungary, ending a run of nine starts without a point. With the team determined to keep improving the Renault-engined FW35, he expects to continue to challenge for top 10 finishes after the August break.

“I know one point is not enough, but it is a good step to start,” said Maldonado. “Now we are at the half-season [point], so we have many races to go and I hope to be in the points from here to the end.

“The potential is so huge. We just need to put everything together and we will be fighting for the points.”

Maldonado believes that scoring a point is vital for morale going into the August break, which includes the mandatory two-week factory shutdown.

“At the beginning of the year we were struggling a lot and it’s quite good to go into the break with a point to keep morale high,” he said. “We need to keep improving. On the aerodynamic side, there are still some points we can improve on and we are working very hard on that.

“It is a small step forward, but it is not enough. We need to keep improving, especially in qualifying.”

Maldonado added that the development path of the car and the switch to the new Pirelli rubber is making it easier for him to drive the car. After qualifying for the season-opening Australian GP, he described the car as “undriveable” and regularly complained its handling did not suit his style, but he found the car more to his liking in Hungary.

“Before, I was completely dominated by the tires and the car. They were not working at all in my case,” he added. “Now, I think it was so clear that my level was a step forward and I was able to fight with cars that are stronger than us.”

OPINION: A genuine step forward
F1 editor Edd Straw

Hungary was a genuine step forward for Williams in terms of overall performance even though the qualifying results suggested otherwise.

Maldonado ended up an unremarkable 15th on the grid, but his Q1 pace provided that Q3 was possible. In the first segment of qualifying, he was sixth fastest and set a best time of 1m20.816s. Had he repeated that in Q2, he would have been 13th and the kind of lap time gain that would normally be expected in improving track conditions could easily have given him more than the 0.272sec reduction in lap time that would have put him in the top 10.

While there was an element of luck for Williams in the race, with Nico Rosberg’s late engine failure promoting Maldonado to 10th, there are genuine reasons for the team to be encouraged.

Williams cannot reverse its fortunes this year — 2013 will go down as a bad season even if qualified with a mini-revival after the break. But at least there is evidence to back up Maldonado’s hope that he can fight for points, even if only on the fringes of the top 10, in the remaining races.

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