Pastor Maldonado says he and his Williams team go to Kuala Lumpur next weekend more relaxed about the pace of the FW34 after crashing out from 6th place during the final lap of yesterday's Australian Grand Prix, costing him eight valuable world championship points. The crash was a massive blow to the team that scored only five points throughout 2011.
Maldonado started the race in eighth place after a strong qualifying performance and was lapping at the same pace as Red Bull's Mark Webber for the first two thirds of the race. He then emerged behind Fernando Alonso following his final pitstop behind the safety car but despite over ten laps on the Ferrari's gearbox he was unable to find a way by.
Then, with just a handful of corners left in the race the Venezuelan lost control of his Williams at the exit of turn 7, bringing his stellar race to a shuddering halt.
“It's disappointing because of the final result but at the same time I'm happy because of the car, the team did a great job,” Maldonado said in Melbourne on Sunday night. “I was pretty confident from the pre-season because the car looked pretty strong, especially on the race pace as you saw. Now we're looking forward.
“The car looks well in all conditions, at the start of the stint on high fuel, in the middle of the race and at the end as well, with the medium tyres and the soft.”
Maldonado couldn't recall the reason for losing control when he crashed, but suspects he might have got too close to Alonso at the time and encountered some wheelspin on exit.
“To be honest I don't know,” he said when asked what had gone wrong. “It was a very fast moment. I just felt that I lost the back of the car and that's it, I hit the wall.
“Maybe I just got too close to Fernando on the exit and got some wheelspin and I lost the car.”
Alonso told reporters after the race that he had felt sorry for Maldonado having driven such a strong race. He explained that defending from the Venezuelan had been relatively comfortable thanks to his Ferrari's KERS, despite the powerful double DRS zone.
“I felt sorry for him. It was a shame after a fantastic race for him, fighting for fifth of sixth place and lose the position six corners from the end,” said Fernando. “At the same time I was able to breath because it was eight laps with a very close fight.
“It was not too difficult to defend to be honest using the KERS on the main straight and after turn 1. Obviously you have 100% available again after crossing the line. For the two DRS zones you use 100% of the KERS so it was a litte bit easier.”