Pastor Maldonado has been confirmed for a third year to drive for the Lotus Formula 1 team in 2016.

Maldonado joined the Enstone squad at the beginning of the 2014 season, bringing along with him a hefty sponsorship from PDVSA, which is valued at approximately $50 million USD.

““It’s great that the team can confirm my position as race driver for 2016. Obviously, there has been a lot of speculation about the future and whilst I have remained focused on my job on track it is also positive to know that my future is confirmed,” Maldonado said.

“This season has presented us with some challenges but the quality of the squad at Enstone is clear to see. I really feel part of the family at Enstone and I’m looking forward to building on the work done this year to deliver better results in 2016.”

Although Maldonado’s year has been far from impressive with a total of eight retirements out of 13 races, Team Principal Gerard Lopez is confident in the Venezuelan’s ability behind the wheel.

““It’s a positive for the future of Lotus F1 Team that we are able to confirm publically that Pastor remains with us for next season,” he said.

“Everyone at Enstone will testify that Pastor is a terrific person to work with and we all know the performances he is capable of on track. Pastor joined us with a multi-year deal so this confirmation is a reiteration of our belief in him. We hope to be able to make further positive announcements regarding the team in the near future.”

Maldonado’s signing raises questions if Renault will still buyout the Enstone team. Renault are partnered with Total oils whereas Maldonado’s sponsorship, PDVSA, is the current supply.

There was talk in the paddock that Renault had signed a letter of intent to buy Lotus on Thursday, with the team still undecided on which power unit to run. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman of Renault, wants to run a Renault engine if the buyout takes place. Lotus currently have a contract with Mercedes until at least the end of 2016, and would prefer to keep running the Mercedes power unit as their car has been built around it.

Image via Lotus F1 Team

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Josh Kruse

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