GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado has reportedly signed a contract to partner Rubens Barrichello at Williams for the 2011 season, leaving last year’s GP2 champion, Nico Hülkenberg, seemingly without a drive at Grove squad.
This claim is reported by Warm Up – the online version of Brazil’s Grande Premio publication – who have claimed that the Venezuelan driver reportedly inked the deal in mid-October in Caracas. Those claimed to have witnessed the deal include a leading official from the Williams team and Maldonado’s chief sponsor, PDVSA, the government-owned petroleum company.
Faced with the loss of four principal sponsors at the end of the season – those being the Royal Bank of Scotland, Philips, AirAsia and McGregor – has left the Williams outfit with a massive financial black hole to fill and forced their hand somewhat, and it is rumoured that Maldonado’s signing will inject some $15 million into the rather depleted team coffers.
The Venezuelan was also in the frame for the seat at Sauber that was given to Mexican Sergio Pérez, who it is believed could bring a bigger budget (via Mexican telco Telmex) than his fellow Latin-American.
[Original image via The Checkered Flag]