What Are the Options Open to Pastor Maldonado for 2014?
It all seems to be happening for Pastor Maldonado at this current moment in time.
A wheel nut fell off his Williams in FP2 of the Indian Grand Prix, leading to a puncture and curtailing his session.
And it emerged last week that an investigation was underway into claims that at least one Venezuelan driver was among those making currency exchanges into dollars at a preferential rate to sell on at a profit on the black market.
Where will Pastor Maldonado end up in 2014?
Maldonado brings substantial sponsorship to Williams in the form of PDVSA but he told Autosport that he was not worried about the situation and was not one of those drivers involved.
It's not concerning me because I never received money from the Venezuelan state or government. What really happened is that the money is not free and the drivers need to pay for that money because it is currency exchange. There is a programme in Venezuela for sport and you can change money at a lower price. What I heard is that other people, some drivers, were changing money at a preferential price and then they were selling them on the second market.
It is really sad to hear about because this sport was nearly dying some years ago and I worked very hard to recover it and put the sport in a very high position in Latin America. I really hope that this problem does not affect the youngest generation who really need their money to race and to be outside of Venezuela.
But the bigger picture remains as to whether or not the Venezuelan will be at Williams for 2014. The privateer outfit has suffered one of their worst seasons ever, a solitary point courtesy of Maldonado in Hungary all they have to show for their efforts.
Williams was expected to confirm the same driver line-up for next season but it has emerged on ESPNF1 that Felipe Massa, who shares manager Nicolas Todt with Maldonado, is now in talks with the team about a possible drive in 2014.
I'm talking with a few teams, including Williams. What I think and what I believe is something that I've already said, I'm not planning to go to small team. That's what I think and I will not go to a small team. I will go to the team that has some possibilities to do a good car, a team with some direction and is working to do a good car.
Maldonado himself has a contract with Williams for 2014 but he is still to commit.
Next year I have a contract with the team. You never know, at the moment I have not taken any decision. We will see in the next couple of races. Felipe is a very good friend of mine. I wish him all the best and hope he continues in Formula One. For sure I will continue, but I don't know if it will be here at Williams or somewhere else and I hope Felipe does [continue] as well. It's a difficult situation for me to say something about Felipe. We have the same manager, we are looking for a place in Formula One and we will see.
Whilst on the face of things it would appear that Maldonado holds the whip hand as the investment he brings is extremely valuable to Williams but then again where else would he go?
Although anywhere bar Marussia and Caterham would appear a step up, Maldonado has hardly made any huge waves this season to suggest he is a driver in demand. Yet he does have that valuable PDVSA backing which could yet put him in the Lotus frame.
So it appears Lotus will keep Grosjean and board must decide between Hulkenberg and Maldonado. All depends on whether investment arrives.— Will Buxton (@willbuxton) October 25, 2013
It had been thought that Nico Hulkenberg was the team’s number one priority but it all depends on whether they push through an investment deal with Quantum Motorsports as Hulkenberg brings no investment himself.
If not, Lotus may opt to go with Maldonado and the money he brings and pair him up with Romain Grosjean. The only other two realistic options appear to be Sauber, should Nico Hulkenberg move to Lotus, and Force India who have yet to decide on their 2014 pairing.
But if the Lotus drive does fail to materialise, perhaps he should just sit tight for another season and hope that Williams make significant strides forward to get back to where they once were. Surely it can’t get any worse. Can it?
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