Pastor positive despite smash
Pastor Maldonado put on a brave face in the Albert Park paddock on Sunday night after the best race of his F1 career to date ended in the wall.
By Mike Wise in Melbourne
Last Updated: 18/03/12 12:17pm
Pastor Maldonado put on a brave face in the Albert Park paddock on Sunday night after the best race of his Formula 1 career to date ended in the wall.
The Williams driver was chasing the fifth-placed Ferrari of Fernando Alonso on the final lap of the Australian Grand Prix when he lost control of his car through Turn 7 and smashed nose first into the concrete.
A crestfallen Maldonado admitted the drive had been even better than his showing in Monaco last year, where he had also climbed to sixth before a late collision with Lewis Hamilton.
However, he was keen to stress the positives for him and his team after a strong showing in both qualifying and the race.
"It was disappointing for sure because of the final result. But I was happy because of the car, the team did a great job," the Venezuelan said.
Of the accident itself, he said: "It was a very fast moment, I just lost the back of the car and I hit the wall. I'm a bit disappointed for that."
Maldonado denied he had lost concentration and said the accident might have come as a result of Alonso losing pace in front of him.
"It was not a concentration thing because it was just a couple of corners," he said. "I was doing a great race for 50 laps or something like that. It was just that I got too close to Fernando in the esses and I get wheelspin and I lost the car."
The incident was not the only one involving Maldonado, who also made contact with Romain Grosjean on lap two of the race - an incident that resulted in the Lotus driver's retirement.
Grosjean, who had qualified an impressive third on the grid, later blamed Maldonado for his exit but the latter in turn said the Frenchman had run wide.
"There was a place and I tried to overtake. I used the KERS and I was quicker than him. It was very little contact, nothing to put him out," Maldonado said.
Although "angry" about his own exit, Maldonado is still in positive frame of mind at the end of a weekend in which Williams revealed themselves as something of a surprise package.
The 27-year-old qualified eighth on the grid and also chased the Red Bull of Mark Webber before setting his sights on Alonso.
"I was pretty confident from pre-season because the car looks pretty strong, especially on the race pace as you saw and now we're looking forward," Maldonado said.
"I think everybody is surprised by our pace, even more in the race than the qualifying. And we can improve still because this was the first race, so I think we have a pretty good base to start the season with and we are looking forward.
However, Maldonado denied that the performance of the FW34 came as a surprise to him.
"No, because I've been trying the car on high fuel in winter testing and it looked pretty consistent and quick at the same time," he added.