Q&A With The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado Ahead Of The Japanese GP
The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado heads to the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit fresh from re-signing for the Enstone based outfit for the 2016 Formula One season. The Venezuelan finished the Singapore Night race last time out in 12th place just ahead of his team mate Romain Grosjean.
Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, Maldonado was asked:
Congratulations on the confirmation of your continuation with the team, this must help you focus more on the rest of the season?
It’s one less thing for my management team to worry about. It’s true that we did have a contract for next year but as we’ve seen before, Formula 1 is sometimes not too friendly towards contracts. It’s great for the team to be able to confirm their faith in me and I’m really looking forward to continuing our relationship and racing with them for a third season. Before that we have another six races to go in 2015 so that’s my focus now, starting with Suzuka this weekend.
How much do you look forward to racing in Japan?
Very much indeed. It is always nice to know you are going to be challenged by a circuit. If everything gets hooked-up then Suzuka is a pleasure. I really hope we can have a good weekend because at Suzuka it makes it even more of a pleasure to get it right. I think that for a driver it is at least comparable with Spa, maybe even better on some corners. I just love racing at Suzuka and indeed in Japan as a whole.
What are the highlights of driving a lap at Suzuka?
There are so many. The start of the lap is incredible with the sweeps up the hill, right-left-right-left. It is really fast and you need a very good and nimble car to change direction quickly. They are really challenging corners where you need maximum concentration and bravery. The run-off is quite small, so it is really satisfying to get them right. When I first drove this track in 2011 it was a big deal for me because I knew that I could find a lot more time in the car. The corners are like this because you never get them 100% right the first time, you learn and learn which is what a great race track should be like I think. Then you have the Spoon Curve which is magnificent and 130R which is still challenging despite being flat-out now. All in all a great, great circuit and with some really steep gradients too. Almost a perfect track!
What is the best memory you have from Suzuka?
Well apart from the first time I actually drove the circuit, it was when I had a really good race in 2012. I qualified down in 14th but managed to overtake quite a few and get some points for eighth position. I remember having a good fight with Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India all race long.
How do you evaluate your Singapore Grand Prix?
If you look at where we started we did make good progress through the field and looked to have some good opportunities. Unfortunately, after the contact from Jenson my rear diffuser was damaged and the downforce helps work the tyres better. This meant we weren’t able to preserve the tyre performance as long as we hoped and we made an additional pit stop. It was a good race from the car, with some fun battles.
Jenson wasn’t happy with the contact?
No driver’s happy if there’s a car in front of them and they want to get past, especially if it damages their car trying to overtake. We both got damage to our cars; he was behind me trying to get past, I was defending my position. That’s racing, The stewards reviewed it and determined that there was no further action necessary.