Pastor Maldonado not worried about F1 future

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Pastor Maldonado is not concerned about his future in Formula 1 despite the newly-appointed Venezuelan sports minister saying that the government would no longer be investing in motorsport.

Maldonado’s career has been supported by state oil company PDVSA, whose sponsorship played a big part in securing him a seat with Lotus for 2014 after three years with Williams. However, after a scandal surrounding government investment in motorsport unfurled last year, there were concerns about his future.

In a recent interview, sports minister Antonio Alvarez said that “there will not be one more dollar for motor racing”. However, Maldonado is not concerned.

“It was exactly the same last year, and here I am,” he told journalists in Monaco. “I think always when Venezuela is moving or whatever, you always relate that with me.

“Last year there was a big impact history in motorsport, for the Venezuelan government and all the Venezuelan guys, because most of these drivers were stealing money from the government, and apart from that PDVSA is not my sponsor it’s a team sponsor.

“I don’t know the real situation against the team and against PDVSA.The best thing would be to ask the team or the PDVSA guys.”

The Venezuelan driver has enjoyed some success when working with PDVSA, winning the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix and the GP2 title back in 2010, and he sees no reason for this to come to an end.

“I have a good relationship,” Maldonado said. “We’ve been working for very long, more than 10 years at the moment, and I don’t see any reason to stop. If they stop, it’s not my decision.”

He may have gained a slightly crash-happy reputation in Formula 1, but Maldonado has shown occasional signs of potential. It would be interesting to see whether any team would pick him up without this sponsorship. Should it get withdrawn, it could also have implications on Lotus’ future.

For the time being though, Maldonado and Lotus will be hoping for a successful weekend in Monaco this weekend.

Hartley says debut F1 point would be ‘a dream’ from last on grid

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Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.

Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.

“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.

“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”

The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.

“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.

“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.