President of Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA Rafael Ramirez has said that he is working to ensure that Pastor Maldonado races for Lotus in 2014.
PDVSA has been instrumental in keeping Maldonado in Formula One, sponsoring him throughout his three-year stay at Williams. However, with the team opting to hire Felipe Massa as a teammate for Valtteri Bottas next season, and with Maldonado seemingly happy to leave, work must now be done to ensure that he stays in F1. As Ramirez explained to El Nacional, Lotus is the desired destination for Maldonado with PDVSA following him.
“There is a change in team and what we are working on is going to Lotus,” Ramirez said. “For us, the interest is Pastor Maldonado, not Williams.”
Maldonado is thought to be going head-to-head with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg for the seat, but the German driver’s arrival appears to be dependent on a possible deal with Quantum Motorsports which is becoming less and less likely. With Lotus encountering financial problems across the course of the season, Maldonado’s backing from PDVSA is highly attractive even if the Venezuelan driver is far less talented and able than Hulkenberg, who is inexplicably still looking for a seat.
This comment from Ramirez also suggests that the on-going investigation into Venezuela’s investment in motorsport will have no effect on Maldonado, but with relations between the driver and the company appearing to sour with Williams, the Enstone-based team will have to assess the baggage that could come with signing him.