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Pastor Maldonado not ruling out points finish in Abu Dhabi despite grid penalty

Pastor Maldonado, WilliamsPastor Maldonado is not ruling out scoring points in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite knowing that he will be hit with a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday's race.

The Venezuelan will use a ninth engine this weekend, triggering the penalty because drivers are allocated only eight power plants for the grand prix season. As Maldonado has qualified between 13th and 18th for each of the last eight races, the penalty means that he is likely to start on the back row.

But thanks to the improving race pace of the Williams, he is hopeful that, with a good strategy, he can get into contention for the top 10 on Sunday and fight for what would be only his second points finish in Formula 1.

"We need to attack from the beginning of the race and to do a good strategy," he said when asked by AUTOSPORT about his approach. "It will be a tough race, but I will push every lap to get close to the points.

"Why [should we] not score points? In the last few races, we have been knocking on the door and our race pace has improved a lot so we are more competitive.

"It's difficult to say how our approach to qualifying might change because we need to run in practice and see how the tyre degradation is. Then we will take the best decision."

The Venezuelan believes that his familiarity with driving the Yas Marina circuit in a Formula 1 car means that he heads into practice better prepared than in previous races.

Last November, he completed a total of 337 laps during four days of running for Williams and HRT - almost 100 more than he had completed in Barcelona before the Spanish Grand Prix - making it one of only two tracks on the calendar at which he had sampled in F1 machinery prior to his rookie campaign.

"You effectively gain two runs in P1," said Maldonado. "You can start looking for the car [setup] right from the start of P1 because if you don't know the track, you lose a bit of P1 trying different lines and braking points, so it's difficult to test the car.

"Here, I know the track and can be ready from P1."

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