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F1 NEWS 

Maldonado boosted by Hispania test

Pastor Maldonado, Hispania, Abu Dhabi testingPastor Maldonado is convinced that his impressive Formula 1 test with HRT in Abu Dhabi was a big day in his career as he chases a Williams drive for 2011.

The Venezuelan set a best time just under 1.3 seconds faster than Bruno Senna's qualifying lap for last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, although the track conditions had improved significantly since then making a direct comparison difficult.

He tests for Williams tomorrow as an evaluation for the race seat next year. The team has dropped impressive rookie Nico Hulkenberg in search of a funded driver, and GP2 champion Maldonado is currently favourite to take the seat alongside veteran Rubens Barrichello.

"Today was a big day," Maldonado told AUTOSPORT. "It was very important because it was the first day after winning the GP2 championship. It was very good because I adapted immediately to F1 cars.

"Today was my first day so tomorrow is going to be a bit easier. It will be a different situation because it's another car. I will do my best, like today, and I will always try to improve."

Maldonado also admitted that a deal with Williams was possible, insisting that he must graduate to F1 in 2011. A similarly strong performance tomorrow could take him a step closer to achieving that.

"There is a possibility," he said. "I don't know at the moment, but we have to be in F1 next year.

"I will do my best to complete the plan of the test tomorrow. It's going to be hard."

Maldonado added that he was happy with his 108-run for HRT today, particularly with how well he was able to adapt to the car despite it not being the easiest machine on the grid to handle.

"It's not easy, but I think that to go at the limit, no car is easy to drive," he said. "The team adapted the car to me and I was comfortable. At the end of the day, I made a lot of improvement every time I got in the car and built the confidence.

"The biggest difference was the grip, the downforce and the engine power. We can improve more, because you can always improve but I'm very happy with the day and we did more than 100 laps."

Maldonado will return to HRT for the Pirelli tyre test that will be held on the Yas Marina circuit on Friday and Saturday of this week.

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