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Williams confirms Maldonado; Bottas to run on Fridays in 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Dec 2011   |  12:03 am GMT  |  66 comments

A day after its entry for 2012 was published by the FIA without a named driver, Williams has this evening announced that Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado will race with the team in 2012.

Meanwhile rumours that Finnish GP3 driver Valterri Bottas would get a race seat have proved wide of the mark, as the team confirmed that he will remain as third driver. But as an added incentive to the youngster, he will be given Friday morning practice runs at 15 of the races next season.

This is a programme which Force India has used very effectively over the past two seasons, preparing Paul Di Resta for the step up to a race seat last year and this year keeping Nico Hulkenberg sharp for a race return in 2012. It is understood that Jules Bianchi will be given that same opportunity for Force India in 2012, so perhaps other teams are cottoning on to the benefits of regular Friday running.

Team founder Sir Frank Williams said of the Maldonado confirmation, “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.”

As for the identity of Maldonado’s team mate next season, it looks like a straight fight between Rubens Barrichello and Adrian Sutil.

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Despite the alleged stabbing, it seems like Lotus is trying to rid Petrov by sending him to Williams to make room for Sutil. However, I’m sure Williams is asking for a significant cash inducement on top of the money Petrov already brings to pass on Sutil. Lotus might offer dropped legal charges to sign and at a reduced salary.


Just a thought – wouldn’t it be great if Williams were on the phone with Kubica right now trying to get him in their car for 2012? It would work for both sides, in my opinion… Kubica can stay race fit (assuming he’s ready) and Williams can tap into his massive fan base and look like the all round good guys, swooping in to save his career at the last minute. Plus, of course, Kubica happens to be one of the quickest drivers out there


Kubica will not be slightly interested in Williams, unless they come out of nowhere with some Brawn-like chassis or if his injuries prevent him from being the same driver.


The only thing impressive about Maldonado is the fat pay check he brings with him. Sad Williams is now ran by an accountant.


Hey James, do you have any news on the Toro Rosso meeting today, which is meant to tell who is going to be driver for the red bull team sister ?


Maldonado’s quite handy – you don’t drive Monaco the way he does without talent. Given time, I think he’ll develop into a solid second driver for a midfield team and he’s a good fit for Williams at the moment. They are implementing a major personnel reshuffle at the moment, the PDVSA money will help keep them financially stable until that bears fruit and Pastor will score points regularly given a car capable of doing so.

Williams’ immediate problem is that they lack a leader and Maldonado is never going to be that. Sutil has never struck me as the type either, although Force India only went forwards while he was there. On paper, Barrichello represents a better choice but last year he made a big song and dance about how the car’s major problem was a lack of driveability and he was going to work harder with the technical team to make the 2011 car more driveable. The result? A car that was even more of a handful than its predecessor.

That, for me, puts a large dent in Rubens’ credentials as team leader and development spearhead. Trouble is, I can’t think of anyone else in or around F1 who fits the bill right now. The one name that I keep coming back to is Sebastien Loeb. Left-field, I know, but he’s a born winner, knows how to lead his team and has that mystical intensity about him, that all great drivers seem to. Shame they won’t give him a Superlicence.


Lotus should hire Rubens, Kimi is going to need a #2 driver.

Williams should get in Sutil & Maldonado as a team to the latin / german pairing of Montoya & Ralf, when they last won gps.



Any HUGE FOTA news to confirm?


For the sake of the team, I really hope they go with Rubens. It’s awful seeing this great name of F1 going downhill so fast. Maldonado was one of the worst drivers on the grid to my eyes and I really can’t see why they feel they have to say it is for any reason other than money. F1 fans are more intelligent than to believe that.

With Maldonado in one seat next year, a new engine supplier, limited testing and new technical department I feel that Williams needs Rubens experience and feedback to have a chance of improving. They are not going to be fighting for a title, at best that would be several years from now. What they need is experience in the form of a quick driver who can provide consistent drives and quality reports back to the engineers and act as a baseline. I would like to see Rubens do this next year then take a step back to a developmental driver role within the team to continue in a more consultancy role.


Williams have a big change next year with Renault engines so they need strong technical leadership. For me Rubens has that in spades. He was with Ferrari helping them to 5 back to back World Championships and at Brawn for their World Championship. There arent many drivers who have been part of 6 World Championship winning teams.

Sutil has never really done anything to really warrant moving up the grid, and in my opinion has been in F1 at least 1, maybe two or three, years too long. DiResta has surely proved that this year.

If Williams dont re-sign Rubens they are sunk, and I will loose a lot of respect in this once great team.

Maldonado hasnt had a great season. The low point being his swerve into Lewis at Spa (He should have had a race ban for that). If the reasons Frank has given for re-signing him are true, then they should have signed up Hulkenberg last year too.

In reality money talks. Williams have always been tight when it comes to signing drivers, and this has lead to their downfall.

You need talent to develop the car and attract sponsors. Why would AT&T and Phillips stay for a couple of nobodies to plod around at the back of the field?

Its Rubens or bust!!


For all that Hulkenberg was impressive in GP2 he performed no better against Barrichello than Maldonado.


Shame, but Newman/Haas pulling out of the IRL on the same evening as this announcement is a sad reminder as to why Williams are keeping Maldonado.


I would like to highlight that all young blood that shared Williams’ cars with Rubens, was beaten by quite a big edge.

If you are bringing new talents and they are not able to match your almost retired and 40 years old driver, either he is still very good on driving, or all others are bad, what I don’t believe it is the case. I believe he is still incredibly fast.

Well, considering the above, there must be a BIG money issue behind this decision process, since replacing Rubens by Sutil does not mean any gain in performance or inspiration for the team.

Unfortunately, Team Williams seems to be already written off as a championship contender by themselves, and it must be analysed as HRT or Virgin environment when it comes to what motivates their decision.


However, you have to add that it was their rookie seasons and testing is nowadays very limited. Both Nico and Maldonado started to match Rubens about halfway through the season and Rubens was out paced some races…

Considering that, I don’t think that speaks in favor of Rubens… getting beaten by a rookie and especially one (Maldonado) not considering being a “good driver”.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Maldonado is anywhere near a top class driver but as Williams now decided to keep him, they must find some one better to lead the team and that is not Rubens…


Pastor Maldonado and Vitaly Petrov are 2 guys who i have no interest in watching as I don’t believe they are good enough for f1. I think if both these guys did not have alot of backing then they both would not have got near f1. If I was Williams I’d have sutil and ricciardo.


Ricciardo the second choice driver of RedBull who went for him only to spite the New Zealander Brendon Hartley?

Whatever we have seen of Ricciardo in that HRT hasn’t impressed me honestly. For all the hype that was surrounded him when he took that HRT seat he didn’t exactly annihilate Liuzzi.

Worst was Ricciardo at Indian GP, Karthikeyan after being out of race seat with paltry 150 miles of seat time ( that too under variable conditions) was within 100th of seconds of Ricciardo’s qualifying time… So that tells everything about Ricciardo and his pace (rather lack of it).

But then he is the favorite of RedBull the flavor of the month, so the halo will keep him shining…


I know it seems that way, especially with their repsonses to press interviews etc, but imagine how they are speaking in their own language, with press who have probably followed them for longer in their own countries. I am not a ‘fan’ of either driver but both have been fairly consistent in their respective rookie years, and I think both do deserve to be in F1 on merit – remember Pastor won GP2. With six WDCs on the grid, it’s super competitive, any driver is going to look poorer in comparision – do we feel Vettel or Lewis would really make such an early mark on the sport in a 2011 Williams?

Be patient 🙂


Off topic, but I read that Grosjean is to test a DTM BMW. Does this mean he is no longer on Lotus-Renault’s list of potential race drivers next year or is he just keeping his options open?


Given that Maldonado’s signing was hardly unexpected and the Barrichello vs Sutil debate has been ongoing for a while, my nugget of choice from James’ article is Bianchi to be Force India’s third driver next year. Does this represent the start of a move away from Mercedes towards Ferrari or is it just a commercial arrangement?

I’m not yet convinced of Bianchi’s potential. For all his apparent speed, he has really under-performed more the higher up the ladder he has climbed; and whenever I have actually been present when he has raced he’s thrown it into the scenery … three times on one weekend, as I recall!


Any news on the possible woman driver at Lotus?

As a Father of a daughter, I am always interested to see if a woman will make the grade… before mine does 😉


She’s really slow. Ana Beatriz or Simona di Silvestro would be far better options.

I’d love to see a woman in F1, but I think it should be someone that really has the talent (an F1 version of Michele Mouton), rather than someone that is there because she’s a she (Milka Duno, etc).


Would prefer a barichello, sutil partnershup but seeing as maldonado has a free reign there it has to be barichello over sutil. Norbert Haug effectively admitted to the BBC that Sutil could move to Mercedes in a testing role if he looses a seat.

Plus I heard a rumour that Kubica will move to Ferrari in a testing capacity to rebuild his career with a view to replace Massa and Senna will partner Raikkonnen with Grosjean and D’ambrosio (Bouiller drivers) testing for Lotus.


Barrichello should not be greedy. He can stay as a consultant to the team if he loves the sport.

Williams should employ skilled technical staff and let a driver do what he is supposed to do – race.

There is life outside F1. These elderly drivers are becoming a pain in the sport.


I’m not a big fan of Pastor, but he’s not nearly as bad as people seem to make him out to be. Rubens is not the fastest driver, but he is extremely consistent and has enough pace to make him a valuable and reliable measuring stick for assessing a young driver. I think the assessment is clear: Pas Mal is competent enough to score points in a good chassis, but will never be able to elevate a mediocre car to the midfield and a good car to contender status. That said, his money at this point is critical in Williams being able to produce a good car. So, until they’re fielding something special, there’s really not much point in getting rid him of. What’s the point of having a great second driver in a piss poor car because you don’t have the money? All that will achieve is giving other teams a free and convenient feeder team for them to poach a driver developed and proven at Williams’ expense. Sometimes, I don’t think people are thinking. However, I do think it’s critical that at least one seat be a fast/ big-name driver to generate excitement for the team and attract new sponsors. Unfortunately, neither Sutil or Rubens qualifies.


I hate the way money determines who gets to drive! I’ve not been at all impressed with Maldonado; he seems to keep getting into trouble. I’m sure there are much better drivers available, especially Baricello who is already in the team!


If Williams go for Sutil they are sunk. It has to be Rubens.


I’d take Sutil and retire Rubens. If for no other reason than that Sutil is younger and will remain competitive for longer. Plus Sutil has the more recent experience with being competitive farther up the grid.

It’s hard to say how fast Rubens really is because it’s pretty obvious that he’s been hampered by Williams lack of pace.

Another crucial factor for me is that Sutil has gone from driving a Midland to being successful with Force India. Hard to argue with that. Sutil seems quite capable of developing a car.


Remember Rubens was winning races as recently as 2009 in the Brawn, so I think he still has the pace.


They all have the pace if they’re in the right car. Seriously I think there should be a kart race between the drivers at every track just to give some perspective on their relative ability.

I’d love to watch that.


maybe it’s wrong to think long term.

maybe if they can use this year to establish a credible engineering base, and come up with a reasonable proposition for a car, they may just land a big fish 2013 when the driver market is due for another shake up.

But that is a very optimistic view. Doubt they can achieve that. I hope Mike Coughlan decides to switch to lotus where the optimism now resides


Why is it that Rubens never seems to have any sponsorship backing him? You would think that Brazilian companies would be lining up (Petrobras, Brazil Telecom, Telmar, Ambev, etc.) to back a Brazilian driver. Is it perhaps that Rubens never has felt it necessary to seek any backers? Maybe he feels that is beneath him, and his services should be paid for by the team. One would think that he could do much more to extend his long career by looking for backers. Alonso has a big one, even Schumi has had his own backers.


He has claimed to be looking. If this is so, with Massa quite likely to be the only Brazilian in F1 next year and Ferrari not exactly desperate for sponsors, you’d have thought he would be quite attractive.

Petrobras would clash with Maldonado’s backers but otherwise I agree it does seem strange.


Because, at the end of the day being a nice guy is not enough. You have to at least beat your teammate once in a while (that doesn’t include pastor) to command the prestige and image that gets backers.


Like Maldonado, you mean? Sometimes a rich family is all the backing you need.


Have never been an admirer of Maldonado. But from business perspective, this makes sense for Sir Frank.

On a different note, I just wonder why Williams pit garage always looks the most tense. And I am not saying this for only this or last couple of seasons when they have struggled. Even in early 2000s, when they tasted decent amount of success, the crew always looked very tense. In contrary, RBR, Force India and now Caterham seems a much more relaxed place to work. People seemingly enjoy working there.

Is it only me or does Williams need some change in their work culture as well? Don’t see that happening though as long as FW is there in pits.


If Sutil moves to Williams and Rubeno moves to Team Lotus along with Kimi it would be interesting.

Let Petrov go to Toro Rosso or some other team. Even Nick Heidfield is lot better than Petrov during this season. Eric must have sacked Petrov instead of Nick.

And James what about Giancarlo Fisichella?

Will Scuderia Ferrari give him a chance if Massa dosen’t prove himself next season?

Is his future over with Ferrari? Man, he made a terrible mistake joining Ferrari in 2009 season. Must have stayed in Force India.

Rubinho's Keyfob

Wow. Where to start with this one? 😉

I must say, since Spa 2011 I have little regard for Maldonado. He was handed a punishment for a clearly unsporting act (and many say it wasn’t harsh enough) in his rookie year.

With regards to Sir Frank’s comments:

“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.”

He beat his team-mate in only 5 out of 19 races in 2011. Presumably, this means that Rubens is held in even greater esteem and will remain in the first car next season …

“Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011”

True, but (a) you don’t get any points on a Saturday and (b) Rubens out-qualified him in 11 races of 19.

So … Rubens out-qualifies his team-mate in 58% of the races and goes on to beat him in 74%, while collecting 80% of the team’s points. On top of that, he is reported as being well regarded by the engineers for the feedback he gives on the car.

My point is that in my opinion this all reads as spin to “big up” MAL and justify his place next season, when the reality is probably that it is more to do with the money he’s bringing in.

It’s just so frustrating because I’d like to see Williams do well again. At the moment, they don’t seem to have the garage and that means they need a “name” to keep the new investors happy and keep getting media coverage while they sort themselves out.

From that point of view, Rubens would do the job. Kimi would have been a coup. But Sutil and Maldonado? I hope not …


Agreed. Parr does not impress me. And the Sam Michaels scapegoat thing seemed to have his fingerprints on it. Let’s see ‘this man is part of our lack of performance…’ and he’s immediately picked up by a far better team. How’s that again….



My reading is that SirF was just trying to find something, anything, positive to try to justify the re-signing of MAL as saying “He brings in good money and he’s not damaging too many cars” would’ve just sounded terrible !

If they can’t get a truly BIG name to attract sponsors, they should just stick with Rubens for another year. Unless of course they really, really believe that Sutil will produce significantly better results than Rubens would.

I would think it logical to keep Rubens for the first-year of the Renault engine deal. Use his knowledge to develop the overall package. Then look to replace him in 2013 with a big-name.


Maldonado? Seriously? Money talks. It will be really shameful if Williams keep Maldonado and get rid of Rubens. F1 drivers should be based on talent, not money. Unfortunately in the real world, money talks and Maldonado comes with money. Amazing how he can get a F1 drive when others, more talented, stay on the sidelines. Rubens and Sutil would have been a more interesting line-up.

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