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Maldonado explains the secrets behind his qualifying speed
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Nov 2012   |  12:01 pm GMT  |  73 comments

Pastor Maldonado may have endured a season of wildly fluctuating fortunes but one area in which the Williams driver has consistently impressed has been in qualifying.

Whereas team-mate Bruno Senna has only made Q3 once in 18 attempts, Maldonado has reached the top 10 on 11 occasions, burnishing his reputation as a one-lap specialist by starting inside the front two rows four times.

The most noticeable thing about his two most recent top-four starts, in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, was his lap-time improvement between Q2 and Q3:  the Venezuelan finding the best part of seven and eight tenths in the final shootout at the two events respectively despite falling temperatures on both occasions.

So just how does he do it? Maldonado gave an insight into his thinking and approach to a qualifying lap to the latest edition of the JA on F1 podcast.

“I think it’s something mentally,” he explains. “I’m quite strong mentally to be honest with you. There is not the perfect lap – it doesn’t exist – you always can do better. What I learn from qualy one I do that in qualy two, and what I learn from qualy one and two I try to do that for qualy three.

“I try to put everything together in qualy three and that’s why I often go to the top three, top five, because I try to get more than 100% from the myself, from the car, from the people around me. Qualy is very important because if you put the car in the top five the weekend changes completely.”

Maldonado, who also showed flashes of his single-lap speed even in last year’s uncompetitive FW33,  also credited his qualifying results to the support he receives from his Williams crew, saying that this was key to him extracting the maximum out of both himself and the car.

“To be honest it’s not only from my side. I have a lot of support from the team,” he said.

“I feel that the concentration is quite high. The communication is so good. They believe in what I feel in the car, they follow me, and this is so important. When the driver feels that you have 100% support behind you can give, and you can release, more than 100%.

“Working so hard as well with the technical side of the team, trying to improve the particular [things]. I really like a neutral car; so I don’t like an understeer car or oversteer, so I’m very precise with the set-ups.”

To listen to the full interview with Pastor Maldonado, including why he believes he can become a world champion with Williams, make sure you listen to the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast available to download via the iTunes store or directly here.

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I’m an office workerHe is the happiest man alive.The whole world knows that.If he had not broken his tooth, he would not be in hospital now.He is ill in bed.There’ll be some sport reviews on TV.There’ll be some sport reviews on TV.What do you think? Here you are.Are your grandparents still living?


There’s something about this guy…he’s wild, he’s rough around the edges but there’s no denying the speed is there.

Bring Back Murray

The closer he gets to the front the more chance he has of taking out the big guns.

Maybe he plays too many F1 games with the “indestructable” button turned on!


I really don’t see any big secrets revealed here… He tries to go faster in each qualy session based on what he learned in the previous one? I think that most of the field have figured that one out by now!



Perhaps he can write a book :

“Qualifying for Dummies”


Pastor Maldonado is an average driver at best and the only reason he has a seat at williams is because of the 75 million PDVSA pays for him to be there. The only yardstick he has to measure himself by is his team mate Bruno Senna who again is a pay driver who hasnt won in any of the junior formula and is only in F1 because of his name. I expect Williams to retain Maldonado (and his wallet) next year,and promote Bottas (a real talent) to a race seat. Lets see who qualifies where then.


“Bruno Senna who again is a pay driver who hasn’t won in any of the junior formula and is only in F1 because of his name.”

So, as Bruno Senna did better than Damon Hill in the junior formula, do you think Hill was only there because of his name, as he also was relative to a WC driver (Graham Hill)?


Damon Hill was different in in 2 respects. firstly he had no money,his family was left pennyless following his fathers accident. no doubt his name helped but he proved himself in an uncompetative Brabham then as a test driver for Williams before earning a full time drive on merit. Secondly, he was pretty good.


Qualifying a bad Brabham to 2 GP is no better than winning Monaco and Silverstone in GP2, or fighting for the title until the end of the season after a lot of bad luck (dog in Turquey, gearbox trouble in France, lack of fuel in Valencia and lost win in Spa for an unjustifiable penalty)

Winning GP.s with a Williams that was the class of the field by far is also not that great, I think most of the drivers of the current grid would have done the same had they the conditions Hill had in his time, with almost unlimited testing. Bruno Senna probably would have won in his rookie year had he started with Brawn, with far worse conditions than Hill had in 1993, as the Brawn was the class of the field only in the first half of 2009 and there was no more testing during the season and even before they had very few miles of testing.

So, D. Hill was pretty good because he is english, B. Senna is no good because he is a brazilian. That is your logic.


Average race-finishing-position in 2012 :

Pastor : 11.7

Bruno : 12.5

Seems that Pastors “I think its something mentally” skills only apply to about 10 or 15 minutes on a few random Saturday afternoons.


Raceday does not clearly show who is quickest and special among team mates.

Any race is affected by different variables.

Qualifiying is the ultimate gauge for any drivers to show their speed

Bruno edging pastor in finishing position means. He is not better than pastor

Ok both are pay drivers. however pastor has the speed and skill whereas bruno is simply slow and not good enough


If Bruno is slow and not good enough judging only for this year, so Jenson Button is also slow and not good enough, as he had the same kind of problems despite being much more experienced and not losing any FP1!


Let’s be honest and erase demagogy and hipocrisy: due to the effects of the current global crisis many talented drivers have to pay for a drive, as teams lose sponsors and need the cash young drivers can take to them. But the word “pay driver” should never apply in these days for most cases, it is ridiculous, as people like Perez, Maldonado or Bruno Senna have better results in junior categories than most people of the past who didn’t pay for a drive. Take Damon Hill, I think cash was not a factor for Williams to take him in the 90’s but on merit or results in junior categoriess he wouldn’t be there. Pastor Maldonado or Bruno Senna would be there purely on merit, as one was GP2 Champion (even if only at his 4th season) while the other was second in GP2 and managed to win 3 races, something Damon Hill never did in F3000, the GP2 of his time.


No one has really commented on Bottas yet. F1 is not about having a “decent” driver. There are plenty of them. It seems that from the beginning of the season Williams has had a plan to blood Bottas and avoid a Hulkenberg-style situation. I fear that Senna never really got a chance this season. However, I equally believe that Senna has had a chance to prove himself and the team principals have individually decided that there are better options. Much like Di Resta.


I’ve been impressed with Maldonado this year. He has come a long way from making stupid mistakes like in Melbourne and sometimes crashing with other drivers (like Perez).

This young driver has gotten more consistency (stability). Something that Grosjean and Perez has yet to understand. In fact, Perez has gotten worse since signing with Mclaren. It could be pressure from Mclaren.

Grosjean seems highly inexperience with it comes to negotiating space on track. Not so dissimilar to Webber’s early days.

I see great things from this guy.


There’s no trophy for winning quali. At this level all of the drivers have been racing most of their lives so should by now have their race craft down. Clearly money talks for Maldonado (and Grosjean for that matter). Qualifying well is great, however the aim is to win it and not bin it.


Many things have been written about Pastor Vs Bruno this season.

Is really difficult to evaluate a drivers comparison over a single season, because as explained in other posts, tyres have too much an influence these days (see Button).

Sure Bruno Q’s have been somewhat dissapointing, where his team mate’s have been amazing. Loosing many FP1s may harm, but I believe the story should lie in the tyres.

Anyway the indian GP this year showed a direct comparison on track and while Pastor maneouvres fighting for position were clumsy at best, Bruno’s were measured and impeccable.

I would retain both for 2013, both looks like maturing with experience, Pastor with his raw speed and his Barcelona win and Bruno with his quality to score almost on every race.

Also LatAm is a really big market!!!

DanWilliams from Aust


I beleive with mroe time MAL will improve his race craft.

Similarly, I beleive with more time, and all prac seesions, SEN will improve his confidence in the car and del in quali.

Furthermore, SEN needs a good break in F1. Ever since he’s been here he’s never had a fair go. I think it’s too early to write him off, I’d like to see SEN get a full season in a half decent car, with a decent team mate, with the full backing of the team behind him (not feeling that the reserve driver constantly has one hand on your steering wheel). and that’s what MAL was talking about when he said he has to full support of the team, they listen to him and trust his feeling in the car, SEN def does not have this at the moment.

Warren Groenewald

This I agree with. There’s been a lot of hype around Maldonado and a lot of criticism levelled at Senna, yet Senna is sitting fairly close behind Maldonado on points in the WDC.

I believe it’s a good combination of drivers that deserves another 2-3 seasons together to mature. Pastor is capable of the qualifying glory and Bruno quietly brings home the points on Sunday. Provide them with a car as good as this years, allow them to mature as F1 drivers and Williams could be comfortably competing in the top 5 WCC.


No doubt Maldonado is an excellent qualifier and was one of the main reasons he scored a well deserved win this year but it goes without saying that he arguably has a lot to learn driving wheel to wheel in F1.


Williams seem to have the most competitive car they’ve had in years and frankly both of their drivers have been disappointing.

He’s right when he says the perfect lap doesn’t exist, but, More than 100%??


I thought there were a lot of similarities between hamilton’s and maldonado’s driving style since last year and as i was going through this year’s results they both have excelled on the same circuits like barcelona,singapore,abu dhabi etc.I think their driving styles help them achieve that sort of a lap time on colder temps.


Pastor Maldonado is maybe the best in a single lap (at least level with Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso on that exercise) but the difference to his current team mate is much more than that, as he is always in the car while Bruno Senna loses FP1 almost everywhere. Also we can’t forget 2012 tyres and how Jenson Button scored only 7 points in 6 races in the first half of the season, just because he couldn’t warm enough his tyres in qualifying. If that could happen to a WC in his 13th year, we have to understand why Bruno Senna (a driver with a very smooth driving style, similar to Button’s) could not qualify well this year. 2013 tyres having a larger window in qualifying and believing Senna won’t accept to lose any FP1 if he stays with the team, I can’t wait to see how much he can reduce the gap to Pastor on Saturdays. Then we could witness a fair and fascinating duel between team mates, as I expect Bruno would recover the qualifying form that saw him beat Alonso in Spa in his first weekend in a proper F1 car or put his Lotus in 9th in Interlagos while his team mate could only be 15th.

Anyway, I believe Pastor would always tend to be slightly quicker, just like Hamilton V Button or Ayrton Senna V Alain Prost.


Oh no

Bruno senna is simply not quick enough

Pastor is quick and delivered the goods so far for williams

Many people here seems to be confused

Qualifiying is Key and shows who is the quickest among team mates when pitted against each other.

I simply cannmot understand why bruno (May be some cash and name SENNA) has been chosed by williams.


We know qualifying is key but we also know Bruno Senna proved in 2011 he was quick enough.

Beating Alonso in Spa the very first time he drove a real F1 car is a clear sign that he has the speed. He entered only in the 12th GP and managed to beat his team mate, who was there for a year and a half. Qualifying in 9th in Interlagos while his team mate was only 15th was another clear sign of that. He managed to qualify 4 (FOUR) times for the Top 10 of qualifying, so he has the speed, as he had already showed in junior categories and at the test with Honda in 2008.

We also know cash was a factor for him to enter this year, but we also know he had the results to get to F1 purely on merit and without having to pay for a drive. Had Honda not retired late 2008 he would have entered F1 at the time, probably would have won races and surely he could be among the best by now, much more developed.


Williams lost a lot of 2012 points by having two pay drivers. It’s almost as if Williams doubted Maldonado’s £29.4m from PDVSA and took on Bruno as an “insurance policy” with his more modest EVX/Embratel sponsorship.

But there’s always a pay-pilot hanging around F1 looking for a drive. With the fast 2012 car, it really would have improved the season for Williams to have got the wallet out and employed at least one driver with talent and consistency – look at Lotus/Renault result with Kimi.


Maldonado is undeniably quick, especially in Q3, which is very much his major strength at the moment, offset by errors on raceday. The young Mika Hakkinen was very similar, as I recall, and he turned out OK, so I think I’ll have a little more patience with the Venezuelan yet.

His stated approach may, however, give a clue to the cause. The continual ramping up through Free Practice and Qualifying is all very well and clearly effective to a point but the fact is that giving more than 100% isn’t actually possible (and couldn’t be sustained if it were).

I wonder if Maldonado is still trying to progress after reaching his peak, this overstretching himself. A blinkered, single-minded pursuit of speed in race conditions is also dangerous, where strategic thinking is sometimes best, discretion can be the better part of valour and considering the big picture always beneficial.

I can well understand frustration, impatience and red mist setting in when the ultimate speed so craved is compromised by other cars, leading to expedient, rash judgements and costly errors.


I imagine losing absolutely 0 practice sessions can only help as well…


Bruno didn’t miss FP1 in Singapore and was further from Maldonado than normal


Button never lost FP1 and he scored just 7 points in 6 races of the first half of the season, also mainly due to qualifying issues with tyres.


I’m not saying missing FP1 excuses everything, I’m only saying it can only hurt him when he does (and that’s most of the time). That hasn’t been, as others have mentioned, his only issue bogging him down in qualifying; the tires have been the other, due to his driving style.


When comparing qualifying performances of teammates, I think it is a pertinent fact that one is forced to sit out most FP1 sessions and the other is not.


If you do a bit of research you will find your pertinet fact is incorrect.


The fact is that losing 15 FP1 (in 20 GP.s) while your team mate is always in the car is a massive disadvantage, although it is not the only reason for Bruno’s qualifying issues this year.


Kamui Kobayashi has also started within the front two rows on 3 separate occasions this season. China, Spa and Suzuka.


Exactly. Sauber totally screwed KK up with their split strategies this season. Spa he got taken out at first corner. Suzuka was mightily impressive in that it was genuine raw pace and not down to tyre tactics. Pirelli might have had something to do with that with their conservative tyre choices.

Feel sorry for Kamui as he looks to be out of F1… If Pirelli continue with this conservative tyre selection of late to next year then Perez wouldn’t exactly set the world alight though will he?


Er, sounds like he is just saying how great he is, and, oh, the team too.

What is the “secret” exactly? Arrogance?


I don’t think so

Mental preparation is so important in any sport – especially when it comes to the intense environment of Q3 in Formula One.

Vettel is one of the best at this, and you can see a large number of sports psych practices he uses before races such as listening to music and visualising the race track

I would suggest that Pastor is doing the same thing


Of course he is. They dont just turn up, finish the beer can, stub out the fag, and suit up. If people are even slightly ignoring the psychology, then Im guessing they are still in the 80’s.

Of course its in the mind. All pursuit of perfection is. Once you get to that level, the mind is all that’s left.


@F1addicted – That was also the case when Mclaren were fastest for most of this season. That too for Hamilton and Button’s 5 wins/ 7 poles.


Or the exhaust-blow diffuser or Newey advantage we are currently seeing. That too.


all drivers have a streak of arrogance, some clearly more than others.


Sure. What’s the secret?


it’s a shame he’s lost so many points by mistakes, you’d think in his second year he wouldn’t be making them so will he change? great drive in abu dhabi mind


Too bad he can’t concentrate as much as he does in qualifying when he’s wheel to wheel with other drivers…things would be much easier if there was a little less red mist clouding his vision.

Much like starting a place or two in front of Grosjean, going wheel to wheel with Maldonado must be one of the riskiest propositions in F1 these days.


Uh, this is unexpected information from Maldonado.

What I get from this is that sport in general & F1 in particular is mainly a sport to due with the athlete’s mind control.

And hence here we have a situation whereby the mentally strong & mentally focused drivers will perform well compared to their counterparts and the older an athlete gets, this mind strength too loses a bit of it’s power.

Now of course this blows to the winds the theory that a driver can out perform a piece of machinery for if a car is really bad, he’s going no where but if the car is okay-ish, then the mentally strong driver’s believe & mind resolve will make the difference.

Yes, this theory would explain a couple of incidents across a years e.g.

1. Maldonado’s lose of form after his win in Barcelona = His mind was heavily weighed by criticism from the press & drivers

2. Grosjean’s current lose of form = His mind is disturbed by the fact he doesn’t want to make a mistake & hence get the wrath of his fellow drivers

3. Massa’s current improvement in form = The prospect & horror of getting fired gave his mind the needed boost in performance

4. Hammy’s involvement in a couple of issues in 2007 = His mind was tormented by the fact, an upstart was running with it.

5. Kimi’s lose of form after his 2007 title win = His mind was content of his achievement and wasn’t hungry for more success till it took a break from the sport.

6. I guess I could also add Senna’s 94 season where he crushed out in the first 3 races = Wasn’t comfortable with the upstart Schumi’s run of form in what he believed was an illegal car.

So yes, I believe the driver’s mentality is what will decide the 2012 title i.e. The driver whose mind entertains the first bit of doubt will lose it e.g. Alonso’s qualifying performance in India.


hahaha! this is the funniest comment ever, Senna unmotivated in 94 got pole in the races he participated, imagine how good was he. In one he was taken out in the other he crashed from the lead and in the other 2 he was chasing an illegal car as Schumacher teammate recognized a while ago. Also, Damon Hill gave Schumacher a run for his money, Schumacher need some schu antics to get his 1st championship, imagine what could have Senna done that year haven’t he died. goferet, should be spelled forget..e I recommend you to watch from BBC the greatest drivers of all time by the experts


What an idiot!!!

One of the those 3 “crushes”, I think you mean crash, was a fatal accident that has never been fully resolved.

As to the other 2, he span in Brazil, whilst a lap ahead of his team-mate, chasing a suspected illegal car.

In Aida, the 2nd GP, he was hit from behind by Larini, and forced out. He watched the Benetton before returning to the pits, it was here that he became adamant that the Benetton was illegal and wanted Williams to protest but they didn’t.

His frame of mind was “so poor” that he qualified that car on pole position 3 times.

Brazil, Senna 1:15.962, Hill 1.592 behind

Aida, Senna 1:10.553, Hill 0.553 behind

Imola, Senna 1:21.548, Hill 0.620 behind.

Bear in mind at Imola, Senna didn’t run on the Saturday.

I must say, welcome back, I wondered what became of your ramblings…


“When the dogs bark, we know we are riding on horseback…”


That’s really stretching assumptions…


You got this one wrong goferet

I do not why people keep on saying alonso made mistake in india. He finished 2nd simply wonderful

We are very lucky, because we are watching Vintage Alonso pretty much every race weekend

Iam wondering why you have not added vettel name here who has made so many mistakes through out the season

Anyway Pastor is really a good talent and have undoubted speed. He is making bruno senna look like a novice. I cannot understand why williams chosed senna as rubens replacement.

Williams should have continued with rubens and pastor. Atleast now williams should get rid of senna who is simply not quick enough

Williams should sign jamie to partner pastor

Maldonaldo will improve and with his speed he can score few more points for williams going forward


@ Krischar

I do not why people keep on saying alonso made mistake in india.


Well what happened is Alonso didn’t improve his Q3 time on his second run.

If you recall, Massa was set to out qualify him for his time in the first sector was faster than Alonso’s till something broke in Massa’s car according to the pit radio & thus wasn’t able to do the job.

Now imagine if Alonso really put in a perfect time then he would have been ahead of one or both Mclarens & in this scenario could have probably jumped Webber on the first lap and ultimately would have had a fair crack at beating Vettel in the race.

And as you know, in F1 your saturday performance is as important as Sunday for grid position is still important but it’s true, on Sunday Alonso makes up for any qualifying mistakes.

As for Vettel, yes, he too has made a couple of (minor) mistakes this year but importantly these happened before the championship pressure got turned up a couple of notches so his mistakes could be attributed more to bad luck & not necessarily pressure.


they couldn’t afford to keep rubens, senna came with a bag of sponsor cash like pastor.


Barrichello won the qualifying duo with Pastor last year 6-5 so I wouldn’t get carried away with his terrific one lap speed.

The car is clearly good but the team is disadvantaging Bruno by giving away most of his Friday practices.


so there were 11 races in total last year? (6+5)

and… how did Hulkemberg do against Barrichello in 2010?


Sori, 10-9 qualy to Rubens, was 6-5 in races both finished.

Hulk was 13-6 to Rubens in qualy and also Rubens ahead 9-5 in races both finished.


It was 10-9, but only Maldonado put the car in Q3, in Barcelona, Monaco and Silvertone.



There were only 11 races last year?


Sori, 10-9 qualy to Rubens, was 6-5 in races both finished


6-5? That can’t be right – what happened in the other 8 races? 6+5 is only 11


Sori, 10-9 qualy to Rubens, was 6-5 in races both finished.


Genius… You’ve just forgotten that he was still a rookie back then…


mmmm Bottas>Maldonado>Senna… i kinda payed attention to that at the start of the season, but i dunno how is the fridays practice score is going this far… but im pretty sure bottas showed moar skills than maldonado


You will find that the one thing most rookies will have or not right from the start is their speed unless they are really young and pushed into it a bit early which neither applies to a 26yr old GP2 champion.


Furthermore Barrichello would also lose 15 FP1 this year. Being very experienced it wouldn’t be such a damage as with a less experienced driver, but even so…


Yes, rookies like Maldonado tend to be quick right from the start but not in a constant basis. Pastor also took some time to get up to speed in the first races, as F1 is different from GP2. Even so he managed to put his car in Q3 three times, something Rubens never did with the Williams FW33 Cosworth… I think Rubens wouldn’t do much better than Bruno (in qualifying) in comparison with Pastor had he stayed for 2012. The score with Bruno is 16-2, with Barrichello it would be very similar. Not that Pastor is that much quicker than in 2011, he just has much more experience with set up in a F1 car and working with the same engineer for a seconde year.


Did you ask him what he wins for taking better drivers out of races? I bet Ferrari would pay good (or a seat?!) to see him bin it into Seb V


Looking forward to the ‘secrets behind his finishing speed’ in 2013 !?! Maybe.

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