Sunday, September 23, 2012
Good omens for Maldonado in Singapore
By Peter Rutherford
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The omens look good for Pastor Maldonado at the Singapore Grand Prix after the Williams driver secured second place on the starting grid next to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Maldonado's only Formula One career victory came in Barcelona in May after the Venezuelan again clocked the second fastest time behind Hamilton in qualifying, though the Briton was later demoted for not having enough fuel in his car.
Maldonado, who has been roundly criticized for his aggressive driving style and frequently felt the wrath of the stewards, said his performance in qualifying at the Marina Bay Street Circuit augured well for Sunday's race.
"We were finally able to put the car together and in qualifying managed to find a very good balance and I am really looking forward to tomorrow," he told reporters after clocking a time of 1 minute 46.804 in the final qualifying session.
"I think we were working very hard from the beginning of the weekend and in practice. We were improving especially during qualifying to adapt the car to my style.
"I'm really looking forward to the race because yesterday we showed very good pace, very consistent, so hopefully it's going to be a good one for us this time."
Maldonado, who starts ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button on the grid, has had 10 punishments imposed on him so far by stewards, including three at Spa that left him with a 10-place grid penalty for Monza.
Maldonado's win in Barcelona ended Williams' eight-year drought but his needless penalties have cost the former champions a good many points and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is well aware of his reputation for accidents.
Asked if he was nervous that Maldonado would line up beside Hamilton on the grid, Whitmarsh said: "I hope we make a clean start".
However, Maldonado suggested he would not be taming his aggressive style anytime soon, despite the test posed by Singapore's notoriously tricky street circuit.
"I think it's possible to overtake here, especially because of the big tyre degradation there will be tomorrow," he said.
"There's a long straight .. it's not going to be very easy but there are a couple of places (to pass)."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)