Lotus F1 Team has confirmed its line up for the 2014 Formula One season, revealing that Pastor Maldonado will be replacing the outgoing Kimi Raikkonen and partnering Romain Grosjean.
Following Raikkonen’s departure, the team was thought to be waiting on investment from a consortium, Quantum Motorsports, with the view to sign the highly-rated Nico Hulkenberg for 2014. However, with this finance failing to materialize, the team has instead opted to hire Maldonado who will bring a large amount of finance from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA that should ease Lotus’ monetary woes.
For Maldonado, this will be his first drive outside of Williams, having debuted with the team in 2011 and remained there ever since. This year has been highly disappointing for the Venezuelan driver though as he has picked up just one point. Nevertheless, he is confident that he can impress with a front-running team.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for 2014,” Maldonado explained. “It’s no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula 1 career and Lotus F1 Team offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season.
“The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start. I can’t wait to be racing in black and gold.”
Maldonado had made perfectly clear that he was unhappy at Williams, and the Venezuelan driver even went as far to accuse his team of sabotaging his car after qualifying for the United States Grand Prix earlier this month. With one grand prix victory under his belt, he will be hoping to add to this figure with Lotus alongside Romain Grosjean.
Team principal Eric Boullier had stated in the past that Hulkenberg was his preferred option for 2014, but he said today that he has complete confidence in Maldonado’s ability.
“It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential – demonstrated by his 2010 GP2 Series title success and then through strong races throughout his career at Williams F1 Team – and we are convinced that we will be able to provide the correct environment to enable him to flourish regularly on track,” the Frenchman said.
Following this announcement, the remaining seats should be sorted within the next few weeks as Force India, Sauber, Caterham and Marussia look to confirm their line-ups for 2014.