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Williams confirm Maldonado for F1 2011 // The Venezuelan driver set to make debut next season

Published by Christine

Maldonado took part in the Young Driver Test for Williams earlier this year.
Credit: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic

Williams issued a press release today and with it comes the least surprising news of, potentially the entire year. For months, now, the name Pastor Maldonado has been linked with the team in Grove, and after the departure of Nico Hülkenberg earlier this month, it was only a matter of time before this announcement came.

The confirmation of Maldonado gives Williams a full lineup for 2011, which is quite frustrating as the FIA only released their latest entry list yesterday and now it is already out of date.

Nevertheless, everyone involved in the deal is happy and speaks very highly of each other. Maldonado comes with backing from the Venezuelan government, but that doesn't mean he has nothing but funding to bring to the team. He has done well in Formula Renault 3.5, and won the full GP2 series last year with the Rapax team. He was also present for all four days of the post-season test (although sometimes in the HRT garage), sizing up against fellow young drivers, and getting a feel of the new Pirelli tyres as well. As it turns out, team boss Frank Williams has had a watchful eye on the youngster for a good few years now.

Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race at Monaco. Since then, he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins, particularly during this year’s GP2 championship, taking an unsurpassed record of six successive victories.

- Frank Williams

Pastor himself reminds us that he will be the first Venezuelan on the F1 grid for nearly thirty years, the last one being Johnny Cecotto who graced us with his brief presence in the mid-80s. Maldonado is no doubt hoping to be around a bit longer, and wants to get some good results for his country (by which he presumably means his sponsors).

I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers. It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me. I tested with the team in Abu Dhabi, but can’t wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year.

- Pastor Maldonado

That's another team with both drivers sorted, leaving nine seats unconfirmed (according to the FIA).