Maldonado happy with Barcelona pace, but remains cautious over rivals’ pace

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Pastor Maldonado is refusing to get ahead of himself despite finishing as the fastest driver on the first day of testing in Barcelona on Thursday.

The Lotus driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:25.011 to finish ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in the final classification, but suffered two early setbacks when the car stopped out on track in the morning, causing two red flag periods.

However, he explained to the media in Barcelona that these were minor issues, and he was otherwise delighted with the day’s running.

“Some sensor failures, but very easy to fix the problems,” Maldonado said. “I think from my point in view in terms of reliability, it’s a huge step forward from last year. We saw that even at the last test in Jerez. With a new car, we were running immediately. It’s positive.

“Today was good. I’m a bit happy, but it’s not enough, so we need to try and improve some particulars in the car. I know it’s early but we don’t have a lot of time to think – we need to react and be fully ready for the first race.”

Maldonado explained how he feels more confident driving the E23 Hybrid than he did last year’s car, the E22, but is reserving his judgement on the relative pace of Lotus for the time being.

“Yes, [I have] much more confidence in the car,” he said. “For sure, we need to keep working on the setup and keep working in some particular areas, but a much better feeling.

“There are teams that did not put on the soft tires. We don’t know their level of fuel. What we know is that we’ve always been doing long runs, around 10-12 laps. We had enough fuel to do some different tests and some good laps, and after the laps to do some long runs.

“We still are at that point, checking different things in the car, and it seems like we are understanding the car and improving step by step.”