Amid all the speculation about the identity of his 2012 teammate, it seems clear that Pastor Maldonado can relax about keeping his race seat at Williams. Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and – to the delight of F1’s rumour mill and headline writers – Kimi Raikkonen are reportedly in contention for the Oxfordshire based team’s second seat.
But although Venezuelan rookie and last year’s GP2 champion Maldonado has not yet been officially confirmed for 2012, boss Sir Frank Williams admitted in Abu Dhabi that the heavily backed 26-year-old can relax.
“I am sure Pastor will be in one car,” he said at Yas Marina.
In some quarters, Maldonado is still dismissed as little more than a pay-driver, with his PDVSA sponsorship and personal support from Venezualan president Hugo Chavez said to run into the dozens of millions.
But when asked who he thinks is this year’s standout rookie, Fernando Alonso told AS newspaper: “I like the season that has been done by Maldonado.
“He is usually always fighting with Barrichello or beating him and doing some pretty serious racing. I think he has done very well in his debut,” said the Ferrari driver and former back-to-back world champion.