As expected, Lotus have announced that Pastor Maldonado will join the Enstone-based team next season alongside Romain Grosjean, who retains his race seat for a third year.
Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg was the initial frontrunner to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who will return to Ferrari next season, at Lotus.
However, consistent delays in an investment deal with Quantum Motorsports meant Lotus required a driver with backing and Maldonado – with his $30m of sponsorship money from Venezuelan oil company PDVSA – entered the frame.
Maldonado leaves Williams after three seasons and 58 grand prix starts. The high point came in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix when he took his maiden pole position and victory at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Maldonado, who finished 18th in this year’s drivers’ standings with one point, 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.”
Grosjean retains his seat at the team after a very strong end to the season which saw him take four podiums in the final six races to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.
The Frenchman said: “I am very happy to have official confirmation that I will be continuing to drive for Lotus F1 Team next season. 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.”
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier added: “[Romain] 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.
“[Pastor] is 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.
“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.”
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