PASTOR MALDONADO’S BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Pastor Maldonado reckons the Spa-Francorchamps circuit should give the opportunity for himself and Lotus F1 Team to shine.
Spa is a legendary motor racing location. What makes it so special for you the driver?
Where do you start with Spa? It is an amazing circuit and for sure one of the best on the planet. The sensations a driver experiences at corners like the Eau Rouge / Radillon combination, Pouhon and Blanchimont are not like you feel anywhere else in the world. It is unique in every way and to think you are competing on parts of the track that were used back in the first Grand Prix season in 1950 makes it very special indeed.
Is the challenge any different from other race tracks?
Every track has its own challenges. For Spa, it’s a long lap and this can present some set-up challenges. You want low drag for the straights but decent downforce for the corners. This is the same at any track, but with the longer lap at Spa the different requirements are highlighted. Sometimes the best set-up for the fastest lap is not necessarily the best in a race. It’s easier to overtake on the straights, so a car fast here, but maybe relatively slower in the corners could be the preferred race set-up. This year we have a car we know to be very quick in a straight line, so this could help us. Then, of course, you never know if you’re going to get rain at Spa, and when it comes, it can come very quickly. There’s always something to keep you on your toes at Spa.
What are your favourite memories of Spa?
Spa is the type of track where you get great memories whenever or whatever you are racing. But of course the ones that really stick in the mind are the victories and I am lucky that I have won here a few times. I first raced at Spa in 2004 in Formula Renault. In 2006 I won in World Series by Renault at Spa, taking pole, fastest lap and the victory. Then in 2008 I won in the GP2 Series for the first time. Then I took another win in my championship year in 2010 which was a sweet moment. In Formula 1 I qualified sixth in 2012. So all in all I have great memories of the track and feel that I have a special relationship with it going back many years.
What can we say about the Hungarian Grand Prix?
It was a difficult race and certainly not the best result I’ve had. There was so much going on and it was a tough race for many drivers. Like with any race, we had a debrief afterwards and that was productive. I always look ahead so my focus is Spa and the next races ahead.
How did you spend your summer break?
Of course I spent as much time as possible with my family. It’s good to not have any pressure, events or factory visits for a couple of weeks so you can clear your head and prepare for the next nine races. I’ve been training and enjoying the good weather whilst preparing mentally and physically for the rest of the season. Whilst it’s great to have a bit of a break, I can’t wait to jump back into the car.
What’s possible in the second half of the season?
I think we have some tracks coming up which suit our car so that’s a good positive. Certainly, Spa and Monza should be strong for us so good results there will be a great way to reboot our season before we head to all the flyaway races when anything is possible.