Formula 1: Williams confirm Pastor Maldonado for 2011
Williams F1 have finally confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will drive for the team in the 2011 world championship.
The GP2 champion recently tested for the Grove-based team and his appointment comes as no surprise after months of speculation linking him with the move.
The 25-year-old arrives with significant financial backing from state-owned oil company PDVSA, and will partner veteran Rubens Barrichello in the FW33 after the Venezuelan’s former GP2 team-mate Nico HÃƒÂ¼lkenberg was dropped after the final race of the 2010 season in Abu Dhabi.
Maldonado said: “I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers. It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me. I tested with the team in Abu Dhabi, but can’t wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year.
“I will be doing my best over the winter to prepare myself, and I know the team will be working hard to ensure a successful season.
“2011 will be the first time in nearly thirty years that a Venezuelan has driven a F1 car so I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.”
Ironically, HÃƒÂ¼lkenberg consistently outperformed Maldonado when together at ART in GP2, winning the championship and securing a drive with Williams while Maldonado could only finish sixth.
HÃƒÂ¼lkenberg had a steady debut season in F1 which included a sensational pole at Interlagos. But with Williams losing four huge sponsors at the end of the 2010 season, they were expected to look at a pay driver to boost their budget.
And while HÃƒÂ¼lkenberg did enough throughout 2010 to warrant another season with the team, Maldonado remained in GP2, switched to the Rapax team, and blew away the field to set new records in the feeder series with six consecutive feature race victories.
With Maldonado, Williams have a driver who not only brings in significant backing, but also has the talent to succeed. He has been likened to Adrian Sutil by some commentators and that combination was something HÃƒÂ¼lkenberg could never compete with.
Founder Frank Williams said: “Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race at Monaco. Since then, he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins, particularly during this year’s GP2 championship, taking an unsurpassed record of six successive victories.
“Of course, we already know Pastor from the time he spent with the team at the Abu Dhabi test, but we are very much looking forward to developing his talent over the winter and a fruitful season with him next year.”
The challenge for Maldonado will be to quickly get to grips with the FW33 and challenge his more-experienced team-mate, as well as bringing the points home for the team.