Pastor Maldonado looking forward to return to Europe

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Pastor Maldonado is pleased with his performance at today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but he is relishing the return to Europe in three weeks’ time when Williams is expected to bring upgrades for the FW35 car.

Maldonado finished in a season-best of 11th, and he believes that it was the most he could have achieved this weekend.

“Considering the problems we have been having, I think we got 100% out of the car today,” Maldonado said in a team statement. “We put everything together today, working well as a team and managing the tires, and 11th was the maximum we could have achieved.”

The upgrades are likely to see an improvement in performance for Williams, and Maldonado will be keen on scoring their first points of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix.

“We are really looking forward to the next race where we should see a step forward. We must stay together and positive. It’s a difficult time, but we still have many races to go.”

Last season saw Maldonado win the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams, but with the car blighting his form and that of teammate Valtteri Bottas, they will struggle to repeat this result in 2013. To make matters worse, Force India has made a strong start to the season, and look to be leading the battle for 6th in this year’s constructors’ championship.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.