Pastor Maldonado must convert his third place on the grid into a strong result in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, says Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan.
Maldonado has only finished in the points three times this year despite starting in the top 10 on nine occasions. Aside from his Spanish GP win, Maldonado has only a pair of eighth places in China and Japan to his name. But with a 34-point gap to Force India in the battle for seventh in the constructors' championship, Williams needs him to convert that pace into a tangible result at Yas Marina.
"We all know what is at stake," said Gillan when asked about the importance of the race result. "Pastor knows, we all know, it's important that we get good points.
"He has pushed really hard this weekend and I expect him to do so in the race. [Catching Force India] is a big task but it's not beyond the bounds of possibility. There are still three races left, the car is quick and we need to be finishing with big points."
Gillan is confident that Williams will have the pace to fight for a top finish in the race after showing promising long-run pace in practice. While McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton is short-odds favourite for the win, Gillan did not rule out Maldonado fighting for a podium position.
"If we can get away well, which we have been doing, Pastor's running all the way through the weekend has been particularly strong. There's no reason why we can't have a very good finish. The Friday race pace was very good through the long runs."
Gillan added that he felt Maldonado had extracted the maximum from the car in qualifying trim to end up just under six tenths off pole position. The Venezuelan was fourth fastest and then gained another position when Sebastian Vettel was disqualified.
"P4 was extracting pretty much everything from the car, so it was not far from the ultimate lap time," he said.