Pastor Maldonado frustrated by Williams' lack of pace during Australia practice
Problems are "very clear" as Williams drop newer exhaust for now
By Mike Wise in Melbourne. Last Updated: 15/03/13 11:47am
Pastor Maldonado admitted that Williams are struggling for pace after a disappointing opening day of practice in Melbourne which saw the team revert to their launch-specification exhaust.
The Venezuelan ended session two 16th fastest, nearly three seconds slower than pacesetter Sebastian Vettel. Rookie team-mate Valtteri Bottas was half a second further adrift in 18th.
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The team had spent the first session running a back-to-back test on exhausts for the FW35. However, Maldonado said their decision to concentrate on this area was not to blame for their lack of pace.
"I think we are far away from the top guys today. We need to work very hard to understand our problems. They are very clear, we just need to work hard to sort it," he lamented.
"We are a bit surprised about the performance here but this is not the end. We need to work."
Maldonado said the car felt different to how it had in pre-season testing but said that was, to a degree, expected.
The 27-year-old added that all the usual testing caveats remained in place during Friday's running but reckoned the Williams had nevertheless lost performance.
"For sure. It's different conditions, a different track," said Maldonado, who denied the car felt unbalanced. "In the tests, you never know against the others. I was never convinced and nobody is convinced until you get to the race.
"Even today, you don't know what the other teams were testing, whether they were high fuel or low fuel. But it seems that we are losing something to them. We need to see tomorrow in qualy."
He added the decision to revert to the older exhaust, a move later confirmed by Willliams Technical Director Mike Coughlan, had compounded a difficult day for the team.
"I think we will keep the oldest one. We need to work hard on the last solution, to improve the performance on the exhaust," Maldonado said.
Assessing his and Williams' prospects for the weekend, Maldonado reckoned they might even struggle to escape Q1 on Saturday.
"Maybe there, we'll see," he added. "Usually I'm quite strong in qualy.
"(It's) very tough. But I'm quite confident for the race because we manage the tyres quite well. Not everyone manages it so we'll see.
"It's not all qualy and pace. Remember last year a Sauber car started from 17th, 16th and was on the podium. We'll see."