This was despite Nico Hülkenberg’s impressive rookie season with the former championship-winning team, including the squad’s first pole position in more than five seasons at the Brazilian round. Hülkenberg found himself without a drive at Williams in place of the heavily-backed Venezuelan.
Hülkenberg and Maldonado were team-mates during Hülkenberg’s series win in 2009, with the German summarily thrashing Maldonado in their head-to-head results.
But Parr has described insinuations that Maldonado is merely a pay driver as “repulsive and irrelevant” in an interview with the Spanish language motor21.com website.
“We have never sat a driver in our car who we did not think was ready for F1, deserved to be in F1 and was capable of delivering,” Parr said.
“[Maldonado] has just won the GP2 championship with a rookie team, winning more races than anyone else. The mere fact that we have to talk about this is absurd,” he added.
The suggestions have arisen with Williams facing the loss of several key sponsors over the winter off-season, leaving it in a potentially difficult position in being able to finance its 2011 championship season in the most effective manner.
Maldonado is well-known to bring some $15 million in backing from the Venezuelan government and the state-owned PDVSA petroleum company, and the reason for Hülkenberg’s sacking has never been made publicly clear.
Parr reiterated that it was “not just our opinion” that Maldonado has “great talent”.
“We work with an independent driver coach and he believes that, in terms of pure speed and talent, Pastor has as much capacity as the two Nicos [Hülkenberg and Rosberg, who drove for the team in 2006-9].”
Parr also rejected suggestions that Maldonado’s stint in F1 would prove to be short-lived.
“We do not see it as a one-year agreement but a long-term investment,” he answered. “If you have a young talented driver, it is a promise for the future, and if he also has sponsors, all the better.”
The exact reason for Hülkenberg’s sacking from Williams is still unclear…
And as for the sacked Hülkenberg – now linked with a possible berth at Force India – Parr hopes their paths will cross once again.
“I would like to see him with Williams again. He has the dedication and the passion to be a great driver and I was so impressed with his maturity and professionalism,” he said.
“I hope he finds something somewhere else and on the other hand I would like to keep up a relationship with him.”
But it’s what Parr hasn’t said that is the more fascinating point. If Hülkenberg is an equally great talent and someone you would like to keep on board, then why get rid of him in the first place?
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