F1Weekly Podcast # 691

PASTOR MALDONADO’S RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

After a solid outing in Suzuka, Pastor Maldonado looks to maintain momentum for the final five races of 2015, starting with the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Suzuka was a solid race for you, how does that help you heading to Sochi?

You always approach a race on its own merits so my outlook heading to Russia is not affected by what happened in Japan. It was positive for us to have a solid race and get some good points, of course, but that is what we try to achieve at every race, regardless of what happened at the one before. Equally, if we have a race like Suzuka for all of the remaining events it would be a strong end to the year.

What were your first impressions of Sochi last year?

It was a great and amazing event, really well organised and with a good attendance. It was a special experience to arrive at a new country for Formula 1 – and a new country for me – then see strong immediate support like we did. I’m looking forward to returning and seeing how they built upon their strong first event.

What was it like when you drove the track for the first time?

It’s always a strange experience. You don’t know exactly how it will be, even though you’ve walked the track it’s very different when you’re sat in the car and actually driving. You have to push to the limit to realise the fastest way around. It’s a very technical circuit. Last year we saw the grip level improve a lot over the course of the weekend as it was new which meant we really needed to work hard on the setup to maintain the balance and get the car working as well as it could.

What do you think of the Sochi layout?

There are very many corners, with a couple of sections of stop and go. It’s quite a long lap and a reasonably technical one too. If you make a small mistake in one corner, you are punished for the rest of the lap. If you’re off line for one corner, it might not be until one of the straights that you can recover. Off-line is very slippery too so you’re doubly punished! Every single part of this track is important! In terms of enjoyment, I like the first sector the most, but it’s a good track overall.

How much easier is it heading there for a second time?

It will be much easier this year. Last year was all about discovery and learning; this year we should be several steps forward so be able to unlock more pace quicker.

Romain’s headed elsewhere for 2016, any thoughts on who you would like as a team-mate?

Honestly I have no preference. Throughout your career you work with a variety of team-mates so you get used to working with different people. Ultimately, everyone is trying to make the car faster and perform as well as it can for an event, so you’re all working to the same objectives.

We’ve seen the outline race calendar for 2016, what are your thoughts?

Firstly, as a driver you want to race as much as possible so I’m looking forward to 21 races. It looks like a good line-up of events and it will be interesting to visit races such as Malaysia and Russia at different times of the year as well as Baku for the first time.

Renault have signed a letter of intent to buy Lotus F1 Team, what does this mean for you?

This is positive news and I’m looking forward to things progressing here. I’ve worked with Renault in the past and know that they are real racers. I know Enstone always works very hard and we’ve seen what the Enstone and Renault combination has achieved in the past. Let’s hope there are great things ahead.

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