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Maldonado considers himself ‘lucky’ to have left Renault

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Pastor Maldonado considers himself “lucky” to have left Renault’s Formula 1 project at the beginning of the season given its on-track difficulties in 2016.

Maldonado raced for Lotus in 2014 and 2015 before the team was bought by Renault at the end of last year.

Maldonado was initially confirmed to be taking one of the seats, before cutting ties with the team during pre-season when his backing fell through.

Kevin Magnussen was drafted in to partner Jolyon Palmer, but both have struggled for pace in the opening half of the season, collectively scoring just one top-10 finish in the opening nine races.

Maldonado has been undertaking testing for F1 tire supplier Pirelli, but made a surprise appearance in the IndyCar paddock at Iowa Speedway on Saturday ahead of the Iowa Corn 300.

Speaking to NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno in Iowa, Maldonado said that he considered himself lucky to have left Renault given its difficulties in 2016, while also shedding light on Lotus’ financial troubles.

“I think I’m very lucky because looking at the situation with the team, I think I’m very lucky to leave that situation again,” Maldonado said.

“The last two years, they were horrible in the team. We were running out of budget and it was very, very difficult.

“But at the same time, we learned a lot to survive with that and to do our best with what we have at the time.

“I think it was a good moment to stay out for a bit.”

Maldonado is refusing to give up on his F1 dream, but would only return if he can race in a competitive car and battle for points.

“I will try of course. But the situation must be guaranteed,” Maldonado said.

“It’s very difficult to win and very difficult to have the best car.

“But of course I would like to have a team in Formula 1 to give me the opportunity to fight for points regularly.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.