SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — After a season-opening Formula One weekend to forget in Australia, Pastor Maldonado must be wondering when he'll win his second race.

The Venezuelan driver was billed as a rising star after winning in Spain last year to give Williams its first victory since 2004. But everything went wrong after that, from mechanical problems to a collision at the European Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton that cost Maldonado a podium spot.

The team finished a lowly eighth in the constructors' championship, but Williams' 2013 car is supposed to be more consistent.

But as he prepares for the Malaysian GP this weekend, Maldonado concedes he had a hard time keeping the car on the track in Melbourne, where he spun out after only 24 laps.

"It was hard to drive the car, manage the tires and stay on the track," he said. "I was fighting all weekend. There was no grip in the car. I was more outside the track than inside because the car was so difficult to drive."

The 27-year-old Maldonado said the team believes it has sorted out the problems but will only know when testing begins at Sepang on Friday.

"I had all the problems you can have in the car," he said. "What happened was the worst that can happen. Now for sure with the analysis we have done, it's clear where the problems are, and theoretically we have the solution."

Still, Maldonado laughed and suggested the team would need "a miracle" when asked if the team could win this weekend.

"To win is always difficult," he said. "To win, you must be quick and have some luck and have the day with you."

Reflecting on his breakout year, Maldonado still cherishes his maiden F1 victory — he keeps the trophy in his home — but also has learned from the mistakes that came afterward especially with regard to what some saw as his reckless driving.

He initially said race stewards were targeting him "more than the others maybe," but later acknowledged he may have tried to race his car too hard in a bid to win.

"Maybe because I was pushing too much I didn't realize the car was not performing to win all the races," Maldonado said. "In the past, I've been fighting for victories and not for places. Formula One is completely different. We need to sometimes be happy with a 10th place."

After his victory, Maldonado never finished better than fifth and retired four times. Despite the problems that plagued the team in Australia, he's convinced challenging for a podium spot will come sooner rather than later.

"We need to work hard this year since the teams are closer," he said. "We need to try and be there with the top teams. Maybe not to win all the races but I think it's possible to do well, win the podium."


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