The Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas have both explained how they feel impressed with their Renault-powered FW35’s improvements, despite another race void of points for the Grove-based outfit. Pastor Maldonado finished just outside the points in 11th position, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas 15th.
After qualifying within the sport’s incredibly competitive midfield section for the 55-lap race around the Yas Marina Circuit, Williams elected to split their drivers’ strategy in a bid to maximize all potential opportunities. This saw Pastor Maldonado start the race on Pirelli’s soft tyre compound, whereas his rookie team-mate Valtteri Bottas started the race on the medium tyre compound. Unfortunately for both drivers their respective races were struck with minor setbacks, with Pastor Maldonado enduring a slow second pit-stop and Valtteri Bottas being overtaken by the Caterham duo during the first stint.
Despite these setbacks and a pronounced lack of points for the seventh race weekend in succession, both drivers feel that the car has improved greatly over the course of the weekend. Pastor Maldonado ran several upgrades on the car during the Friday practice sessions with 2014 in mind, and after the race explained how a new aero package on the car had improved both the pace and consistency of the FW35. Due to the various improvements, the Venezuelan ace feels optimistic ahead of the final two races later in the month.
“Today was a very tough race from the perspective of trying to manage the tyres, but we managed to cope with it pretty well.” Explained Pastor Maldonado, “I certainly feel that the pace and consistency of the car has improved with the new aero package we ran this weekend and I could feel that the car was improving as the race went on. Unfortunately I came out in to traffic after my second pitstop which meant that I couldn’t really show the improved pace we had, and in the end I had to settle for a finish just outside the points. Overall the weekend has seen some positive steps forward which will give us a boost for the next race.”
Once again Valtteri Bottas showed strong potential behind the wheel of his Williams, however the Finnish rookie was unable to score his maiden points in the sport. During the first stint the former GP3 rookie was at a slight disadvantage to the cars around him, as he started the race on Pirelli’s medium tyre compound. This setback became apparent as the lights went out, and Bottas fell behind the Caterham duo of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Despite his poor start the rookie managed to climb back ahead of the Caterhams, as well as the Toro Rosso duo to finish 15th, a position he believes was not totally reflective of the car’s pace.
“I don’t think P15 was really reflective of the pace we had today.” Admitted Valtteri Bottas, “My race was compromised by the first lap when I was jumped by the Caterhams who started on the option tyres and so had more grip and were able to overtake me. After the prime tyres started to work my race pace was very good and I was able to fight hard with the cars around me. The positive from this weekend is that the car is feeling better and we have definitely made some gains which is promising for the final two races.”
With the 2014 driver line-up at Williams currently unconfirmed heading into the final two races of the season, Valtteri Bottas in particular will be looking to continue impressing behind the wheel of his FW35 machine at both Austin and Sao Paulo. Pastor Maldonado, on the other hand, looks set to ‘fly the nest’ so to speak with rumours linking the Venezuelan with a move to Lotus. However, with two races still to run the main focus of attention within the team will be on at least finishing within the points at the last two races.
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