BARCELONA (Reuters) - Pastor Maldonado has put his faith in Williams to provide him with a winning car and silence those who fear he could be destined to join the ranks of one-hit wonders.
A year on from his Spanish Grand Prix victory, the Venezuelan returned to the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday with fighting talk despite his team’s failure to score a point in four races so far this season.
The possibility that last year’s stunning success could ultimately prove to be a Formula One flash in the pan was not something he wanted to contemplate.
Even if Sunday looked a step too far, Maldonado refused to rule out returning to the top of the podium before the end of the season.
“If we won last year, why not this year again?” he asked reporters. “We have all the tools to win again. That’s my opinion. The team is very strong.”
Maldonado’s win last year, from pole position, was Williams’s first in nearly eight years and made him the first Venezuelan to win a grand prix.
The trophy, rescued from a fire that swept the team’s garage as they celebrated the victory, now has pride of place in the driver’s home in Venezuela but it could be a long wait before more silverware joins it.
Williams scored 76 points in 2012, finishing eighth, and talked of challenging for at least fifth this year before the car’s aerodynamic weaknesses became apparent in pre-season testing at the same Circuit de Catalunya.
So far this season the winners of nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ crowns have been mixing it with the backmarkers.
Maldonado hoped that a corner had been turned, with a recent straight-line aerodynamics test indicating possible solutions.
“It’s going to be difficult this time (in Spain) but we’ve been working hard these couple of weeks,” he said.
“We’ve done a new aero kit for this race and hopefully it should work. And we have an extensive development program for the car over the next couple of races as well.
“We have done a real comparison between track and wind tunnel and its clear where the problems are at the moment. We are not that far away,” added the Venezuelan.
The challenge was putting it all together.
“The potential of the car is there. The base is last year’s car,” he said. “I think we got lost for whatever reason but we have good data, we have good drivers, a good team. There is no reason to be where we have been in the previous four races.”
Maldonado’s win in Spain last year was a deserved one, albeit helped by Lewis Hamilton’s demotion from pole for a fuel irregularity in his McLaren, with the Venezuelan lining up on the front row alongside Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Beating the Spaniard in front of a home crowd took determination but the Williams hit a sweet spot in ideal conditions and at a time when racing was particularly unpredictable.
There were seven different winners of the first seven races, whereas this year Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel has already won two of the four.
“We have a new goal this year. The car is what we have,” said Maldonado.
“We are not expecting any miracle. We need to work very hard, even more than the other teams just to try to shorten the distance.
“This is a different history. We need to accept where we are, too accept the situation and try to do our best to come out of these problems.”
Editing by John Mehaffey