'THINGS WILL IMPROVE': Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado says things are better at his current team than it was at Williams despite not scoring a single point in 2014. Image: AFP
LONDON, England - Despite his 'pointless' first half-season with Lotus, Pastor Maldonado has signed up with the team for 2015.
In his third consecutive campaign with Williams in 2013, the team hit rock-bottom and Maldonado decided to take his PDVSA sponsorship to Lotus. It was at that moment that the two teams' fortunes switched around.
LUCKY 13, OR NOT?
Maldonado, who picked the number 13 to race with in 2014, does not regret the move.
"I feel better here," said 29-year-old Maldonado, whose new team mate Romain Grosjean has scored all of the team's eight points so far in 2014.
Maldonado is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport: "It is not that Williams was bad. I enjoyed the first two years very much, I learned so many things and I also got some good results.
"Im 2013 I felt the need to change, I wanted new challenges. I saw we had no prospect of development, even though I knew that this year would not be as bad as 2013."
THINGS ARE BETTER
Maldonado has said repeatedly in 2014 that the big difference at Williams has been the switch from Renault to field-leading Mercedes power.
He said: "In the past, Lotus has built the best cars in F1. This year, things are not going great, even if the car is good. The difference is mainly the engines of Mercedes."
Even deputy boss Claire Williams, and new technical chief Pat Symonds, do not completely deny that.
Williams said: "Obviously the Mercedes power unit has helped to drive our competitiveness this year. It's absolutely a factor."
Symonds, speaking to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, agrees: "The Mercedes engine has of course helped us a lot.
"You can't forget that in 2013, with Renault, we had the same engine as the World champions, and we were ninth. Now we have the engine of the apparent new World champion again and we are doing much better.
Symonds insisted: "We are the second fastest Mercedes team and not far away from the factory team."
He says the biggest change at Williams in 2014 is "confidence".
Symonds said: "When I arrived, there was no confidence. That is why there was all the panic. Someone told me in 2013 that it made no sense to practice pitstops because the car was so bad. That (attitude) just leads to nowhere. If you look at our stops today, they are very good on average.
"Everyone believes in themselves again. There is a very different atmosphere in the team."
At the same time, Maldonado has confidence Lotus can also turn its fortunes around "Most of the problems have been down to reliability," he said.
Maldonado added: "Sometimes we are jumping on the track just thinking about finishing and not thinking about exploring the full performance of the car which is not a great approach. But sometimes you need to maybe do one step back to recover and it's getting better and better.
"It's looking quite good now. It's always been a great team in the past and for sure will be one of the good ones for the future."
Lotus' deputy boss Federico Gastaldi agrees with Maldonado that the Renault engine has been a problem, but he admits it is not the only one.
Gastaldi said: "I think we're still having problems understanding the engine, but we're also having problems in Enstone matching chassis, aerodynamics and the engine.
"We're trying to improve but it is a very, very slow process."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.