Team co-founder Patrick Head is “pretty certain” Pastor Maldonado will stay with Williams for a second season in 2012. The Venezuelan’s seat was until recently considered secure due to his lucrative backing by the state-owned oil company PDVSA. But that money is now in doubt, with the Venezuelan parliament looking into whether the Williams deal went through the necessary approval processes.
So when the provisional 2012 entry list was published by the FIA on Wednesday, Maldonado’s name was missing.
“It’s not something that I can talk about,” Head said in Brazil last weekend, “but I think that the PDVSA situation is stable, from what I gather. “I’m sure there will probably be something in the press about it coming up, but from what I understand it’s stable,” he is quoted by the online magazine GP Week. “I can be pretty certain that Pastor will be in the team next year.”
As for the seat alongside Maldonado, recent contender Kimi Raikkonen has now signed for Renault/Lotus, leaving Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and Valtteri Bottas – and possibly Dutchman Giedo van der Garde – at the top of the list.
“One wants a mixture of speed, experience, leadership in a way, good feedback … all those things,” said Head. “Fundamentally, our problem is the car. We’re not really debating whether one person is two tenths a lap quicker than another person.
“When you’re 2.5s behind, yes, we’ve got to have the best we can in the cockpit, but fundamentally the big challenge is to get the car sorted out.”