Pastor Maldonado sure Williams have strong car irrespective of FIA exhaust call
Maldonado says FW35 best Williams he's driven out of the box
By James Galloway in Barcelona. Last Updated: 19/02/13 7:23pm
Pastor Maldonado has downplayed the impact of any change Williams may have to make to the exhaust outlets on their new FW35 - insisting he is "100% sure" they'll be a competitive proposition in Australia after driving the car for the first time at Barcelona.
The Grove-based team rolled out their car in the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane on the opening morning of the winter's second test and it didn't take long for paddock attention to focus onto the 'vanes' situated inside the exits of the new car's Coanda exhausts.
A similar design on the new Caterham had already provoked controversy at the Jerez test but Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan stressed to reporters on Tuesday morning in Spain that he thought his team's design was subtly different, and therefore legal.
However, Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz revealed that the FIA would judge both exhaust configurations as being illegal should they appear on the two team's respective cars in Melbourne.
But asked if he was concerned about the governing body's stance at the end of his opening day behind the wheel of the FW35, Maldonado replied: "No, actually not. This is not changing anything.
"It is a standard Coanda. [There are] things we are testing and doing some experiments in the car for the future. We are really looking forward and we know very well the rules and we are looking forward to getting 100% not only from the exhaust, all [of] the car.
"I'm 100% sure we will be there in Melbourne fighting for good places."
Indeed, although the car almost immediately found itself at the centre of controversy, an upbeat Maldonado said it had been a "positive" day for the team, with the Venezuelan declaring the FW35 the best of the three Williams he has ever driven at this stage of the winter.
"I'm very happy with the car because it's the best car I've had - especially in the first test for the previous years," he told reporters.
"Last year the car was quite good, competitive all through the year, but I think there is a clear step forward in this car.
"And a part of that there is good reliability in the car, so this is a good improvement we did and we are really looking forward to even more mileage on the car in the next couple of days and even try to try different things in the car."
Describing the 2013 challenger as having "more braking and more traction" than its race-winning predecessor, Maldonado added: "I think I'm going to enjoy this car in the season and we can do something good."