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Maldonado cuts honeymoon short

2013-02-08 08:25

NEW THINKING: Williams driver Pastor Maldonado is determined to win more races in 2013 and stay out of trouble.

ALAN BALDWIN

JEREZ, Spain, - Williams driver Pastor Maldonado has had to leave his new bride in the wings as he prepares for his third season in Formula 1.

The Venezuelen is determined to win more races and steer well clear of the stewardsso has had to shift his focus after marrying fiancee Gabriela in the off-season.

"One day. Eventually," grinned the Venezuelan about taking the title, after his first test of the campaign at the Jerez circuit inSpain.

Maldonado has had no time for the usual post-nuptial holiday. He's fully focused on the year ahead and trying to establish a reputation as a quick, confident and consistent driver rather than quick with controversy and crashes.

STEWARDS' 'FAVOURITE'

"I'm more confident. Confident with the team and the car," the 27-year-old said. "In my first year we were suffering a lot with the car, the next year was a question mark, so 2013 must be progress, a step up.

"I will try to do my best, to win not only one (race). I think and I hope the level will be more or less the same as 2012 because the rules haven't changed a lot. So everything will be very tight and I enjoy that because the driver can sometimes make the difference."

Former champion Williams finished eighth overall in 2012 with Maldonado scoring 45 of their 76 points after winning in Spain, the team's first victory in nearly eight years.

There would have been more points had the Venezuelan not attracted so much attention from the stewards, who seems to have the team's number on speed-dial.

Maldonado collected three punishments at the Belgian GP weekend at Spa that left him with a 10-place grid penalty for the following race in Italy. He made it a priority over the closing races of 2012 to stay out of trouble and it remains right up there on his list for 2013, even if the sanctions meted out still chafe.

"I made some mistakes in 2012, but at the same time I was being killed by the stewards. It was a combination, 50-50, not all down to me and everybody knows that," said Maldonado. "I'm more experienced now. I will try to be away from the trouble."

NEW CAR

Williams is the only team yet to unveil its new car, the launch scheduled for the season's second test session on February 19 at the Barcelona circuit where Maldonado joined the ranks of Formula 1 race winners.

It's not his favourite track but, after testing the 2012 car in Jerez with new aerodynamic parts, he's excited to get his hands on the 2013 challenger that he and Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas will be racing.

The testing at Jerez was more about doing laps, getting used to the new Pirelli tyres, and having a comparison with the 2012 season's data.

Bottas is Maldonado's third different team mate in three years but the 23-year-old rookie has been part of the Williams set-up for two years now and took part in Friday practice at most GP weekends in 2012..

GOOD GUY

Maldonado said former team mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who drove beside him in 2011,  was his toughest and quickest team mate so far and one he had learnt a lot from. He was sure Bottas would prove strong and competitive.

"He's a good guy and I know him very well," said Maldonado. "I'm more experienced than him and we need to try very hard to work together, to develop the car as soon as we can. We have a good relationship - 'm looking forward to it.

"He's been very involved in the development, been full-time in the simulator, so he's not a complete rookie. I think he will enjoy this season and be competitive."

The season will start in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.

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