Lotus has finally officially confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will race for the team in 2014, alongside Romain Grosjean.
As previously reported here Maldonado and his Venezuelan backers opted for Lotus over Sauber in Brazil on Sunday, after a frantic final day of discussions with both teams.
However, it has taken most of this week to finalise what is obviously a complex deal. It’s believed that the sponsors wanted to ensure that their funding goes into the operating budget of the Enstone team, rather than straight towards paying off loans or debts, and also there was the matter of ensuring that Grosjean’s backer Total and PDVSA could work together.
Although it was assumed that Maldonado’s decision would quickly trigger a round of announcements elsewhere, that is unlikely to be the case. The situations at Force India and Sauber are not straightforward, and both teams have been aware of Maldonado’s decision all week.
“It is with great pleasure that we can formally confirm that Romain Grosjean will continue with Lotus F1 Team next season,” said Eric Boullier. “He has really made the most of his tremendous talent over the latter part of the 2013 season and will be a fantastic asset to our 2014 challenge. Romain will be joined by Pastor Maldonado; a driver I have known since he drove for me at DAMS in the 2005 World Series by Renault season.
“It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential – demonstrated by his 2010 GP2 Series title success and then through strong races throughout his career at Williams F1 Team – and we are convinced that we will be able to provide the correct environment to enable him to flourish regularly on track. We have been working on our new car in alignment with the new regulations for over two years and we are confident that we have a very good solution to all the challenges ahead. With Romain and Pastor I believe Lotus F1 Team will be able to cause quite a few surprises next year.”
Grosjean said: “This past year has been tremendously satisfying for me. We have worked well together, and I know everyone at Enstone is motivated to continue the fight for every last point available. I am very excited about next year’s car and I cannot wait to get out on track for pre-season testing before heading to Australia for the first race of the season.”
Maldonado said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for 2014. It’s no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula 1 career and Lotus F1 Team offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season. The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start. I can’t wait to be racing in black and gold.”