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Maldonado 'a great asset' - Coughlan
Williams technical director Mike Coughlan has described Pastor Maldonado as "a great asset" to the team.
Maldonado won last year's Spanish Grand Prix to give Williams its first victory in eight years and showed some impressive qualifying pace to shake off the pay driver tag he had arrived in the sport with. Now entering his third season with the team, Maldonado has been backed to improve once again and Coughlan says he rates him very highly.
"Pastor is a great asset to our team," Coughlan said. "He's well-liked, he's got fantastic natural ability and I think he's ready to step up. We don't have a number one driver; we are absolutely desperate to take the same car to every race. You have to realise that in some cases that's not possible, but we look after both our drivers in exactly the same manner - they have the same team and they have the same support.
"We really hope that Pastor brings the maturity he showed here last year to the races this year, hence the reason he takes our car out first."
Coughlan also said that despite his lack of results in 2012 Maldonado wasn't getting the credit he deserved.
"Pastor's drive towards the end of the season was tremendous. People didn't realise the problems he was carrying in the car, he had a great performance. To deliver on our performance [is the aim] really, and on our potential."
With Valtteri Bottas joining as Maldonado's team-mate for 2013, Coughlan said he had high expectations of the new driver pairing.
"Valtteri is very disciplined, he's very focused, he's worked very hard over the winter; he's lost some weight and done some strength work. The way I'd sum it up is that last year we had several opportunities we didn't close out. I think ultimately as a team - including the drivers - what we need to do is focus on maximising our performance and delivering on it when we can."