Pastor Maldonado’s acrimonious departure from Williams at the end of last season must seem like a distant memory for the Grove squad now, which appears to have brighter days ahead with a competitive FW36, a promising sophomore in Valtteri Bottas, and a steady veteran in Maldonado’s replacement, Felipe Massa.
While he knows that he’ll have to hang tough against the Brazilian in the obligatory intra-team battle, Bottas appears to have taken more of a liking to Massa than Maldonado – who now runs for a Lotus team that struggled in the winter and again in yesterday’s first two practice sessions at the Australian Grand Prix.
“I believe this season is an opportunity for me to learn from a team guy a little bit more than last year,” Bottas told a Finnish broadcaster about his partnership with Massa.
“This year the team has a more experienced guy [Massa] and he is quite different [to Maldonado] – a little more open and more willing to be more of a team player and to provide more information.”
Maldonado’s relationship with Williams degenerated last year to the point that he accused the team of sabotaging his car following qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin.
Soon after, he found a home in Enstone with Lotus with the help of his large financial backing. But while Lotus was a solid fourth in the constructors championship last year, they looked very much the opposite of solid in winter testing and on Thursday in Melbourne.
Technical problems with the new E22 helped keep Maldonado from posting a time in either FP1 or FP2, but if Bottas is enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at the Venezuelan’s expense, he’s not letting on.
Instead, he’s simply focusing on the positives that Massa has helped bring across the Williams team.
“I think if you are sharing information in the team meetings and both trying to contribute to the team’s performance and providing the best possible feedback – it always helps, of course,” Bottas added.