Williams F1 has just announced that Pastor Maldonado will remain on board as one of the team’s drivers for the 2012 season, while reserve driver Valtteri Bottas remains in his position on the bench.
“Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able to maintain a consistent and strong race pace,” team founder Sir Frank Williams has said in the team’s press release.
“Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners. He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward.”
“I am delighted to be able to continue with Williams into my second season and I will give my very best to help the team as we push to return to the front of the grid,” Maldonado added.
“This has been a tough season for the whole team but it has given me personally the opportunity to learn and develop. I am convinced that the steps we have taken to improve our competitiveness will bear fruit in 2012 and beyond. I am thrilled to be part of that and also to represent the people of Venezuela in Formula One.”
Maldonado’s presence is certainly assisted by a rumoured $14 million a year financial kickback from Venezuela’s national petroleum company, PDVSA, although there had been some recent suggestions that the sponsorship deal breached the country’s laws, which could have put his position at the team in jeopardy.
Interestingly, the team has not yet chosen to reveal the identity of its second driver, widely tipped to be a shortlist of either Adrian Sutil or Hülkenberg, who are both waiting on Force India’s decision over its driver line-up next season.
The strongly-held opinion is that the incumbent Rubens Barrichello will not be retained by the team.