Maldonado: Top five possible for Lotus
Pastor Maldonado admits the memory of his 2012 victory in Spain fuels his belief that he can help turn Lotus' poor start to the season around with a top-five finish in Barcelona.
Maldonado has not finished higher than 14th so far and had notable had incidents with Esteban Gutierrez and the pit wall in the opening flyaway races. But Lotus showed another improvement in China and Maldonado is convinced the team will continue to build on that with the upgrades it is bringing to the Circuit de Catalunya.
"I'm expecting to be more competitive," he said. "It will be very important to start scoring some points, but if everything goes well and we get some luck too then a top five is possible.
"It is going to be difficult, there are the two Mercedes and two Red Bulls and then others who have shown good pace in recent races like Force India, but if we get 100% from the car we can fight all of the other teams and come away with something good to build on … When we get there [to the front] it will be even sweeter."
Maldonado was going through similar struggles at the start of the 2012 season with Williams before his surprising win at Barcelona, and he is using that experience to remind himself that fortunes can change quickly in F1.
"[The win] was a great day in my career, a strong race and victory over Fernando Alonso in his home event. People forget that we were outside the top ten on Friday and then everything came together. We qualified second, which became pole after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified, and I knew there was a chance to win the race. I just felt so calm and ready to win.
"That weekend, after being 17th in first practice, shows why you must never give up in Formula 1. It also gave me more confidence because my first year in F1 had been difficult, but as soon as the car was competitive I was up there, fighting with the top drivers. My mentality changed and this now drives me forward when times are tough."