Williams confirmed tonight that Pastor Maldonado will stay on with the team in 2012, having listed no driver names in the FIA entry that was published yesterday.
Sir Frank Williams had already stated publicly that Maldonado was likely to stay, although a recent controversy in Venezuela over his PDVSA sponsorship led to some question marks.
The team has also confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will now officially be third driver. The GP3 champion will have a schedule of 15 FP1 sessions on Fridays.
The name of the team’s other main driver has not been announced, although Adrian Sutil is among the favourites.
Sir Frank Williams said: “Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able to maintain a consistent and strong race pace. Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners. He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward.”
“I am delighted to be able to continue with Williams into my second season and I will give my very best to help the team as we push to return to the front of the grid,” Maldonado was quoted as saying in a team statement.
“This has been a tough season for the whole team but it has given me personally the opportunity to learn and develop. I am convinced that the steps we have taken to improve our competitiveness will bear fruit in 2012 and beyond. I am thrilled to be part of that and also to represent the people of Venezuela in Formula One.”
Regarding Bottas, Williams added: “We have a very specific approach to young driver development, working with one highly talented individual over a period of years. Valtteri has proved a very capable and rounded young man of fierce determination.
“As the team’s Reserve Driver, we anticipate that Valtteri will participate in a Friday practice session at 15 Grands Prix next year, most likely with a more experienced driver taking over for the remainder of the race weekend. We will announce the identity of that driver in due course.”
Valtteri said: “I would like to thank Frank Williams and the whole team for the investment that everyone at Williams has made to help me over the past two years. The opportunity now to continue this unique development with the position of Reserve Driver will enable me to gain essential experience as part of the race team in 2012.
“In this position, I will do my utmost to help the team to set up for a great race weekend and also look forward to playing a role off the track with the team at the factory and with our partners.”