Pastor Maldonado believes the Renault engine could be 'even better' than Mercedes'
Venezuelan adds leaving Williams "best decision ever!"
By William Esler
Last Updated: 21/02/14 5:13pm
Teams powered by the French suppliers have struggled thus far during pre-season testing with Lotus, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham managing just 656 laps between - approximately 3232km - compared to 1761 laps - approximately 8281km - completed by the four Mercedes teams.
After his first day of testing the Renault engine, however, Maldonado does not understand why the French unit has come in for such close scrutiny in the paddock.
"People are concerned about the Renault engine, but I think it is a great factory, they have been winning everything in the past and I don't know why people are worried," the Venezuelan said.
"I think at some point they will be competitive or even better than Mercedes. I think they have good power in the engine - it is just a case of making it work all together. I am not very worried about the situation.
"We haven't had any big problems with the engine. We are still getting there with the maps and electronic things which is normal. The Mercedes engine has done a lot more laps than the Renault, but at the moment from our point of view it is difficult to say because we have had three days in the car and we didn't have huge engine problems."
Nevertheless, despite his positive comments Maldonado admits aiming to finish the first races of the season, rather than going for all out performance ,will be key.
"For sure the first races you have to think about finishing," he confessed. "In my opinion all the teams seem to be not 100% with reliability so that will be very important to finish the race."
Lotus opted to miss the first test to carry out further development work on their car at the factory, and Maldonado isn't sure if missing out on four days of running has hurt the team.
"Who knows? For sure we have started with a few days less than the other teams, but we did a filming day in Jerez and it was all clean with no problems. Here we start to have some problems, so it is very difficult to say," he said.
"Hopefully we are getting there quite soon and we can be competitive and solid from the beginning of the season."
One thing he is sure of, though, is that despite Williams covering over seven times as many miles as Lotus during the opening seven days of testing, he was right to leave the Grove team.
"I think in my opinion it is the best decision ever! I don't know if it is good or worse for the results, this is the first test for the team, the season is quite long, we will see," Maldonado concluded.
Total laps covered by each team during pre-season:
Mercedes - 535
McLaren - 475
Ferrari - 456
Williams - 411
Sauber - 396
Force India - 340
Caterham - 308
Toro Rosso - 174
Red Bull - 122
Marussia - 54
Lotus - 52
Total laps covered by each engine manufacturer during pre-season:
Mercedes - 1761
Ferrari - 906
Renault - 656
Approximate distance covered by each team during pre-season:
Mercedes - 2480 km
McLaren - 2226 km
Ferrari - 2124 km
Williams - 1957 km
Sauber - 1891 km
Force India - 1618 km
Caterham - 1513 km
Toro Rosso - 846 km
Red Bull - 607 km
Lotus - 266 km
Marussia - 251 km
Approximate distance covered by each engine manufacturer during pre-season:
Mercedes - 8281 km
Ferrari - 4266 km
Renault - 3232 km