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GP Week : Issue 194
F1 >>> nEWs Pastor Maldonado and his sponsors PDVsA are reportedly in talks with Williams over a possible departure for the Venezuelan at the end of what has been a difficult year, with the 28-year-old set to take his petro-dollars with him in his quest to find a drive further up the Formula One grid. Maldonado is backed by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVsA, and that financial firepower is believed to be one of the major attractions for teams looking to sign him. High-level sources told Autosport that Maldonado and PDVsA are in late-stage talks for him to leave Williams at the end of the year, and that while the deal has yet to be finalised, it is only a matter of time until Maldonado is released from his contract and allowed to sign elsewhere. The magazine also reported that any departure deal reached is likely to include an agreement that will see Williams compensated for the change in plans, with the team set to be paid by PDVsA through to the end of 2015, when the original deal between the two parties was due to expire. Maldonado’s most likely destination is believed to be Lotus, and rumours were swirling in the Abu Dhabi paddock that a deal had been signed on Friday night. The enstone team, who have struggled financially this season, are rushing to close a long-delayed deal with a consortium of investors and have a vacancy for next season with Kimi Raikkonen set to move to Ferrari. The team’s preferred candidate to replace the departing Finn was Nico Hulkenberg, but Maldonado’s PDVsA backing makes him a very attractive prospect, bolstering Lotus’ coffers in the event that the investment deal falls through. According to team principal eric Boullier, there are already contracts on the table for both Maldonado and Hulkenberg. sauber – who have also struggled with well-publicised financial issues this year -- and Force India have also been mentioned as potential homes for Maldonado next season. Russian young gun sergey sirotkin has been confirmed at sauber for 2014, but that confirmation is subject to the 18-year-old being ready for a full-time race drive. With question marks also hanging over esteban Gutierrez’ future with the team, there could be a potential vacancy for Maldonado at the Hinwil-based squad. Force India are also yet to announce their driver line-up for next year, and neither team is in a hurry to make an announcement, instead biding their time and waiting for confirmation that Maldonado is a free agent. PASTOR GETS POPULAR 11 GPWEEK.com // 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: