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Maldonado blames stress for Williams criticism

Williams Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela drives during the first practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Mar
Williams Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela drives during the first practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Mar

(Reuters) - Venezuelan Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado has blamed a surge of stress and pent-up emotion for the harsh and accusatory words he leveled at his Williams team over the U.S. Grand Prix weekend in Austin.

Maldonado had suggested Williams might have sabotaged his car in Saturday qualifying as an explanation for why Finnish rookie team mate Valtteri Bottas had performed so much better than him.

Bottas qualified ninth, and finished eighth for his first points in F1, while the Venezuelan started 18th and failed to score in the race.

"Sometimes you get too stressed, and sometimes you value only the moment, but there is always something behind it and after three years you explode," Maldonado was quoted by autosport.com as saying after Sunday's race.

"I think I accumulate energy and explode. It's not that I am crazy and I start to say many things like that.

"It (the criticism) was wrong from my side, because I respect them for three years and they respect me," added the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix winner. "But sometimes I get so stressed, especially during the week with the announcement I was leaving the team."

Williams had announced last Monday that Brazilian Felipe Massa was joining from Ferrari to replace Maldonado, who had wanted to leave and has scored just one point in the season's 18 races to date.

The Venezuelan has been linked to Lotus, who are still waiting for new investment to come on board, and cash-strapped Swiss-based Sauber.

Both teams would welcome the many millions of sponsorship that Maldonado brings with him from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

Maldonado said he wanted to stay friends with Williams, the only team he has driven for in Formula One since his debut in 2011.

"I have big friends here, maybe the only friends I have in F1, and we pass maybe the best time of my career together and the worst time of my career together," he added.

"There are some people at the team that I don't like, but maybe they don't like me as well. But it is like a family. In a family you can have some differences."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Alison Wildey)

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