x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pastor Maldonado is aiming for a new direction in Formula One racing

Williams driver Pastor Maldonado is trying to change his reputation on the track and stay well clear of the crashes that plagued his first two Formula One seasons

Pastor Maldonado, of Venezuela and Williams, drives during a Formula One winter testing session at Circuito de Jerez in Spain. Paul Gilham / Getty Images
Pastor Maldonado, of Venezuela and Williams, drives during a Formula One winter testing session at Circuito de Jerez in Spain. Paul Gilham / Getty Images

The honeymoon is on hold for Pastor Maldonado as the Williams driver prepares for his third season in Formula One with a determination to win more races and steer well clear of the stewards.

"One day. Eventually," said the Venezuelan, who married Gabriela Tarkyani in the close season, after his first test of the campaign at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Maldonado has had no time for the usual post-nuptial holiday. He is focused on the year ahead and trying to establish a new reputation as a driver who is quick, confident and consistent rather than quick with controversies and crashes.

"I am more confident. Confident with the team and the car as well," said Maldonado, 27, when asked how he felt about the year ahead. "In my first year we were suffering a lot with the car, the next year was a question mark and this year must be progress, a step up.

"I will try to do my best, to win not only one race. I think and I hope the level will be more or less the same as last year because the rules haven't changed a lot.

"So everything will be very tight and I enjoy that because the driver can sometimes make the difference."

Williams, whose last constructors' and drivers' titles came in 1997, finished eighth overall last season with Maldonado scoring 45 of their 76 points after winning in Spain for the team's first victory in nearly eight years.

There would have been more points had the Venezuelan not racked up so many trips to the stewards.

He managed to collect three punishments at the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Spa that left him with a 10-place grid penalty for the following race in Italy.

He made it a priority over the closing races of last year to stay out of trouble and that notion remains a high priority on his to-do list for 2013, even if he still chafes at the sanctions meted out.

"I made some mistakes last year but at the same time I was being killed by the stewards," he said.

"It was a combination, 50-50, not all down to me and everybody knows that.

"I am more experienced now. I will try to be away from the troubles."

Williams are the only team so far this year to unveil their new car, with the launch scheduled for the season's second test later this month at the Barcelona circuit – where Maldonado joined the ranks of Formula One race winners.

Despite his victory, the track is not his favourite track. But after testing last year's car this week with new aerodynamic parts, he is excited to get his hands on the 2013 challenger that he and his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas will be racing.

The testing at Jerez was more about doing laps, getting used to the new Pirelli tyres and having a comparison with last season's data.

Bottas is Maldonado's third teammate in three years but the 23-year-old rookie has been part of the Williams set-up for two years and took part in Friday practices at most grand prix weekends last season.

Maldonado said Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian veteran who drove alongside him at Williams in 2011, before Bruno Senna last year, was his toughest and quickest teammate so far and one he had learnt a lot from.

He was sure Bottas would prove strong and competitive as well.

"He's a good guy and I know him very well," Maldonado said. "I am more experienced than him and we need to try to work together very hard, to develop the car as soon as we can. We have a good relationship between us so I'm looking forward to it.

"He's been very involved in the development, been full-time in the simulator, so he's not a complete rookie. I think he will enjoy this season and be competitive."

Maldonado and Bottas do not have long to work on developing the car, with just two testing periods in Barcelona before the new season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

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