Pastor Maldonado: Lotus driver not worried by criticism

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Monaco
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Pastor Maldonado says he is not affected by criticism of his driving after a series of crashes this season.

The Lotus driver, 29, said he found "funny" joke pictures on social networking sites with photographs of a crashed speedboat in Monaco captioned: "Maldonado's arrived".

"It's OK," said the Venezuelan. "I have always been used to having a lot of criticism. We live in a free world.

"People can say what they want. At least someone is talking (about me)."

After five races this season, Maldonado has already accrued four penalty points under governing body the FIA's new system which imposes an automatic ban on any driver who is given 12 points in a calendar year.

Maldonado admitted that he had been guilty of pushing over the limit after a difficult start to the season with his new team.

Lotus were late starting pre-season testing and suffered a torrid first four races as they hit a series of reliability problems that seriously affected the amount of running they could do.

Many of Maldonado's incidents have come on his first lap out of the pits, or - as in the case in the Chinese race last month - on his return, and he admitted he had struggled to learn about the car because of his limited track time.

"I think it is a combination of many things," Maldonado said. "Maybe trying too hard. At the same time, we were not 100% with the car, so the car was not doing what I wanted.

Steering wheel distracts Maldonado

"I went to the race with a car I didn't know very well. The engine was progressing a lot - every time a new car.

"I did some mistakes, I accept that. I have always accepted my mistakes. I am looking to deliver my best. Maybe because I want to do better than I can, I am doing some mistakes. It is quite busy with the car with the switches and setting changes."

He added: "It is not the ideal situation. It is what we have. We need to learn from the mistakes and improve."

Maldonado said he felt "more confident" in the car following a day's testing with the team in Spain last week.

"The last test was pretty good," he said. "My first complete and normal test with the team.

"It was quite good to test different things with the car. We had no time before to explore and test different set-up conditions, new parts or whatever and that day was very special for me because we had time enough to do plenty of changes and have more experience with the car, with the team.

"You can always improve and I'm working very hard to do my best and score points and be at the top."

Pastor Maldonado