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Maldonado 'definitely naturally talented' - Williams
Williams technical director Sam Michael has heaped praise on rookie driver Pastor Maldonado after his first few weeks of testing for the team, but made clear Rubens Barrichello is the No. 1.
GP2 champion Maldonado joined Williams over the winter and has so far completed six days at the wheel of the new FW33. After his first day in the car Michael said he immediately called team bosses Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Adam Parr to report on Maldonado's progress.
"Pastor's come along as a rookie, but I'd say the jobs that he's done in the tests so far has been very good," Michael said at the launch of the FW33's livery. "One of the things I liked, and I called Frank, Patrick and Adam straight away after the first test to say, was that he's definitely naturally talented. On his first day in Valencia we looked a lot at his data compared to Rubens and we could see that he has natural talent."
Michael lifted some of the pressure off Maldonado's shoulders by saying: "Pastor's a rookie, he'll make a few mistakes and have a few crashes - every rookie does. The one thing I am quite impressed by already is - primarily because he is 25-years-old and five years older than a normal rookie - his level of maturity, that's higher."
But there is no doubting that Barrichello is still the No. 1 driver at the team and Michael said the FW33 would be developed to suit him.
"Let's be clear, and Pastor knows this as well, Rubens is the key driver for the direction of the car because someone with that much experience, Pastor will never match him," Michael added. "The main thing is for him to try and learn from him as much as he can. But Rubens contributes the most to where the car is going, in terms of aero platform and set-up."