Newly-crowned GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado has refused to confirm speculation that he has already signed a deal with make his Formula 1 debut with Williams in 2011.
The Venezuelan was a busy figure in Adu Dhabi last week, testing with both Williams and Hispania Racing in the two-day Young Driver test at the Yas Marina circuit, and again in the HRT cockpit for both days of the Pirelli familiarisation test session. The Spanish outfit has secured a deal to use Williams’ gearboxes for next season.
Maldonado is an attractive prospect for the Williams squad by virtue of the rumoured $15 million in sponsorship backing he brings from his country’s government and the state-owned petroleum company, PDVSA. Williams is itself facing the loss of five major companies from its sponsorship roster in the off-season.
Williams recently announced that it had retained veteran Rubens Barrichello for the 2011 season but that it had conversely dispensed with the services of Nico Hülkenberg – the 2009 GP2 champion – who notched up the team’s first pole position since 2005 and had scored 22 of the team’s 69 championship points.
Hülkenberg’s manager, Willi Weber, who now needs to find his young charge a seat at one of the few remaining vacancies on next year’s grid, claims that Williams has “probably already done a deal with Pastor Maldonado”.
However, Pastor was keeping quiet on the rumours, telling Formula1.com: “At the moment, no comment on that.”
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]