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Maldonado exit to benefit Massa?

2013-10-18 09:54

ON HIS WAY OUT? F1 driver Pastor Maldonado (above) could be leaving the Williams team at the end of the 2013 season and it could open doors for Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. Image: AP

LONDON, England - Pastor Maldonado's exit from the Williams Formula 1 team could pave the way for Felipe Massa's entry, the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo has reported.

Correspondent Livio Oricchio claims talks between Venezuelan Maldonado's management and sponsors and team bosses are taking place now.

The 28-year-old has reportedly run out of patience at Williams, despite his powerful sponsors PDVSA remaining under contract to the British team.


Williams admits it has a problem. Veteran team manager Dickie Stanford told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I've never seen a racing car that reacts so little to modifications," referring to the FW35 that has powered Maldonado to only one point so far in 2013.

One unnamed team member, however, said 2012 Spanish GP winner Maldonado had also been part of the problem. "He still makes too many mistakes," the team member was quoted as saying. "In Korea, we told him repeatedly in the last stint to take care of the right front and, if possible, stay out of the battles but what did he do? Drove like a madman and ruined his tyres in three laps."

Maldonado also reportedly infuriated team bosses when he forced his way past team mate Valtteri Bottas in the final corner of the last lap in Japan, for a mere 16th place.

Both Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and O Estado de S.Paulo said Maldonado is eyeing departing Kimi Raikkonen's seat at Lotus. That team, however, would prefer to sign Nico Hulkenberg, but that depends on the team finalising its 35% sale to a group of investors known as Quantum.

A Lotus source told Oricchio: "They (Quantum) are always saying 'We're coming, we're coming', but nothing happens." That is where Maldonado could come in. His sponsor PDVSA, bringing the equivalent of R470.4-million a year to Williams, remains under contract to Williams for two more years.


Nevertheless, Oricchio said exit talks between the Maldonado camp and Williams were taking place. Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt said deputy team boss Claire Williams was in Caracas recently amid rumours that PDVSA could pay millions to buy its way out of the deal.

Oricchio agreed that the exit talks have intensified since Suzuka. The Venezuelan state oil company would then back Maldonado's switch to Lotus.

It is said Maldonado's manager, Nicolas Todt, is pushing for the deal to happen because it would open Williams' door to his other charge, Felipe Massa. The Brazilian, who has reportedly put together a sponsor package worth about six-million euros, including Petrobras, is looking for a drive for 2014 after losing his seat at Ferrari.

Todt said: "Yes, it's been difficult for Pastor this year, with a car that does not allow the drivers to score points. They have to react and they have been hiring new people. Next year it (Williams) would be an excellent option for Felipe."

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