March 19, 2012 (F1plus / Andrés Rojas).- Williams F1 team left Melbourne with a bittersweet after taste. No points, and only one car was able to finish the race, but what happened in the track gave signs of a promising recovery.
Pastor Maldonado, yes, the one that is fighting the unpleasant remarks of being a "paid driver", had probably one of the his best races ever in Formula 1. Indeed, it is true he was not able to end his good run the way it is supposed to be, with points in his pocket, but he did show some guile and determination, key traits of a interesting F1 driver.
The Venezuelan started his good weekend with good runs in practice, but it was his nine place on Saturday's "pole" what put him in the spotlight. Since lights went off on Sunday (he had a particularly good start), Maldonado raced bravely and showed that his FW34 is by far a superior machine compared to the lousy one they had last year.
This was acknowledged by the team's Chief Operations Engineer, Mark Gillan: "Whilst the end result was disappointing for the team, we are all very pleased with the significant performance improvement of the FW34, with the car showing both good qualifying and race pace..."
Maldonado kept on fighting through out the race behind Webber and Alonso, and it seemed, at the last stages of the race, that he was going to overtake the mighty Ferrari driver until a mistake in the very last lap of the race made crash heavily against the wall, and with that his sixth placed was gone along with the 8 points that comes with it.
"Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go." Maldonado said in reference to his accident.
Although he also recognized the difference in performance of the 2012 Williams car by commenting: "The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important".
As for Bruno Senna, without a doubt, he had a rough weekend, and the race, he would probably want to forget it fast. Senna apparently had good start but in the mayhem of the first corner, where all the middle teams get packed, he touched wheels with Ricciardo, and as a consequence had to back to pits, which putting in last place.
After a strong showing, he was pushed aside by Felipe Massa in lap 53 and had to retire. "I had a great start, but I tried to take the outside line at the first corner and I felt someone make contact with me. I then had to do an extra pit stop which made things difficult. My race was looking better but then I had a tangle with Massa so luck wasn’t on our side today". Senna said.
Overall, Williams has much ore to look forward at the same time last year, it is always difficult to tell much with only one race, but better something than nothing.