The Williams F1 team has confirmed, as expected, that Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas will front its racing line-up for the 2013 season.
The Grove-based team confirmed the news just moments ago in a media release issued via its website, meaning that Bruno Senna is now officially on the F1 job market.
Next year will become Maldonado’s third full-time season with the team. The well-funded Venezuelan became the sport’s latest first-time Grand Prix winner when he claimed victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.
However, his year has also been wildly inconsistent, with the former GP2 Series champion earning more penalties from the FIA Stewards in 2012 than any other driver on the grid.
“’I’m really enjoying my time with Williams and I was obviously very happy when I was told that I would be continuing with the team in 2013,” he said in the team’s media release.
“[It] was a memorable year for me with the win in Barcelona and we made a big step forward in terms of performance. I have a lot of confidence in the team and hopefully next year will see us move even further up the grid and taste more success.”
The news of Bottas’ appointment confirms one of the worst-kept secrets in the F1 paddock. The Finn – who is managed by Williams’ minority shareholder Charles ‘Toto’ Wolff – has been the team’s official test driver since 2010, a year before he went on to claim the GP3 championship title.
The last year has seen Bottas take part in a large number of Friday practice sessions for the team in Senna’s car, where he has run on, and sometimes ahead, of Maldonado’s pace.
“It has always been my life-long dream to compete in the Formula One World Championship. To do so with one of the most legendary teams in the sport is incredibly special,” Bottas added.
“I’ve really enjoyed my three years with Williams so far and feel very at home here so my goal was always to stay for 2013 and progress to a race seat. I’m looking forward to getting my Formula One career started and enjoying a lot of success with Williams.”
Team Principal Sir Frank Williams was obviously full of praise for his 2013 line-up.
“In Pastor and Valtteri we have two of the most exciting talents in motor racing and I am especially excited about what 2013 can bring for Williams,” he said.
“Pastor has always demonstrated remarkable pace and this year has seen him mature as a racing driver. Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our departing driver Bruno Senna for his hard work over the past year and wish him the best of luck going forward,” he added.
Williams is now the seventh team to finalise its 2013 race line-up, joining the ranks of Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes Toro Rosso, and Sauber in doing so.
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