Now returning to Barcelona in 2013, Williams has suffered a major performance slump, and - backmarkers Caterham and Marussia aside - is the only team yet to score a single point this season.
"At the moment we are living hard moments," Venezuelan Maldonado, 28, said.
But after the first four 'flyaway' races of the season, the Spanish grand prix is traditionally the scene of a performance jump for many teams, as major upgrade packages are added to the cars.
And Williams - and other underperforming teams like McLaren and Sauber - have higher hopes than most that they can make a big step forward this weekend.
But Force India team boss Bob Fernley is not so sure.
"Apart from McLaren, who we know will come back and be as strong as always, for the rest of the teams there is not much (development potential) left in these cars," he told PA Sport.
"We've been pretty stable (with the regulations) for the last few years, so there are not big leaps."
Maldonado agrees that Williams' task is more complicated than simply bolting on some 'go faster' bits.
"I think we need some time," he said.
"The problems we have got are quite big but hopefully step by step we're going to get there."
He is not hiding the obvious pain that Williams' 2012-2013 decline is causing, having cut a noticeably downbeat figure in the paddocks so far this year.
"Sometimes you don't feel very happy," Maldonado admitted, "but this is racing, you know.
"Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not and we need to do our best when it's like that to try to improve, to try to survive."
This weekend is also the one year anniversary of Williams' Barcelona pit fire, and one team member - mechanic Martin 'Barney' Betts - is still yet to fully recover from severe burns.
"Barney, with the injuries he sustained, has had to have a significant time off but it is important that he comes back and is well looked after," deputy team boss Claire Williams told the Sun newspaper.