Pastor Maldonado says he is revitalized after scoring his first Formula 1 championship points in Belgium last weekend.
The Venezuelan bounced back from a grid penalty handed to him for a collision with Lewis Hamilton in qualifying to deliver the best finish of his rookie campaign for the Williams team at Spa. Although that result takes a monkey off his back, having failed to make it home in the top 10 previously, he says his approach is not going to change at all over the remainder of the campaign now that he is finally a points scorer.
"I'm not going to relax – I am a fighter," Maldonado said about the impact of his result. "All through the championship I have been fighting and pushing so hard with the team, to improve the car to do every race better and better.
"Unfortunately, we did not have a strong car, especially in the beginning of the championship, which cost me a lot of experience. But I think I feel more confident in the team, the mechanics, engineers, the car, the tracks, and even myself. I am really happy because the mood in the team is quite positive, even if the results up to now are not the best. But the only thing now is we are still fighting, everything can happen in F1 and I hope to improve until the end of the season and to work hard for next season."
Maldonado also says that he never had any doubts he could deliver good results in F1, which is why he was never fussed at critics who said he only got his seat because of the sponsorship his presence in the Williams squad brings.
"I don't care about the people saying things," he said. "My team knows who I am. I think everybody knows in F1 who I am. I won last year in GP2, I dominated the championship.
"Even this year I have a very strong teammate [Rubens Barrichello], which is helping me quite a bit. He is experienced and I am getting better and better quite quickly. I have to do my job and my best, and that is what I am doing."
Maldonado also said that he had cleared the air with Hamilton after their qualifying incident, and that the situation between them was now sorted.
"We were talking about what happened and it is all clear now, so I am looking forward," he said. "I think he is a great talented driver and a very good friend of mine. We need to respect each other and look forward."