Pastor Maldonado ready for Bahrain’s physical challenge

1 Comment

Pastor Maldonado may have not scored any points so far this season, but his main focus this weekend appears to be on taming the physical challenge that the Bahrain Grand Prix poses.

Although rain is forecast for large parts of the race weekend, the heat in Bahrain usually makes endurance and composure just as much of a challenge as racing and overtaking.

“Because the Sakhir Circuit is in the desert the track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend, especially with the sand being blown across the surface,” explained Maldonado.

“So the teams will have to be ready to react to the different conditions. The temperatures in the cockpit are also going to be very high so as a driver you have to be prepared both physically and mentally to deal with that and I’m expecting to lose between 2 and 3kg during the race.”

Maldonado also spoke about working with the Pirelli tires, which degraded very quickly in China to cause trouble for many of the teams. The Venezuelan driver is expecting the situation to be similar in Bahrain.

“Tire degradation is also expected to be quite high at this race which can always throw up some interesting challenges for the teams.”

Despite winning last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, Maldonado has failed to impress so far this season for Williams, and they are the only team yet to score alongside Marussia and Caterham. Both Maldonado and teammate Valtteri Bottas are struggling with the FW35 car, yet they could be in a position to open their 2013 accounts relying they can keep their cool in Bahrain.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.