Hispania Racing has announced that Pastor Maldonado will test for the Spanish squad in three of the four forthcoming end-of-season test days in Abu Dhabi.
The Venezuelan driver is already locked in with Williams for one of two days of testing allocated for young drivers set to immediately follow the final race of the 2010 Formula 1 season, and will now be representing HRT in the other day scheduled.
Maldonado will then drive for HRT in the two-day test allocated for teams to evaluate the Pirelli tyres being used from next season.
Williams will – although unconfirmed as yet – run its regular drivers, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hülkenberg in the two-day Pirelli test.
The news of Maldonado’s test follows several reports that the newly-crowned GP2 champion is close to signing with Williams for 2011, with the team also agreeing to supply its transmission units to HRT for next year.
Williams’ current driver line-up dilemma stems from the loss of sponsorship backing it will experience at season’s end – no less than five major sponsors are not renewing their deals with the Grove outfit – and it faces the difficult prospect of having to turf either of its established drivers in favour of courting the rumoured $15 million in sponsorship backing that Maldonado brings from the Venezuelan government-owned petroleum company, PDVSA.
Williams is unlikely to dispense itself of Barrichello’s services, with the veteran Brazilian widely regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid capable of developing a Formula 1 car.
The decision to give Maldonado plenty of running time on Pirelli tyres really swings the speculation in favour of him being signed for Williams, and for Hülkenberg – despite his heriocs in Brazil last weekend – to be consigned at HRT (as speculated) until Williams can bring him back to the squad when Barrichello retires. It is also known that Williams is wanting to lock Hülkenberg into a long-term contract, with a view to have him as the centrepiece of Williams’ planned march up the grid and back to its former glory.
[Original image via LAT]