Maldonado-to-Williams rumours grow

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Reports in the Brazilian press claim GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado will join Rubens Barrichello at Williams in 2011, replacing Nico Hulkenberg.

There has been much speculation over Hulkenberg’s seat in recent days as Williams are believed to need a driver who can bring sponsorship to the team next year.

Maldonado is heavily backed by Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum company PDVSA.

The same Brazilian journalists who broke the news of Barrichello joining Williams this year believe Maldonado will bring ??15m (13.1m) to the team.

While others claim Williams do not need the money it is known that several of their sponsorship deals come to an end after this season, including RBS and Air Asia.

Hulkenberg and Maldonado were team mates at ART in GP2 last year when Hulkenberg won the title.

Read more: 2011 F1 drivers and teams

Thanks to Willian Ceolin for the tip.

Image © GP2 Media/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Maldonado-to-Williams rumours grow”

  1. I’m actually starting to believe. The rumours have steadily developed weight, and when they develop enough weight to have their own gravity, then they’re entirely conceivable. Where reports were once quoting unnamed sources, they’re starting to get highly specific about some details – for example, that the deal was signed in Caracas on Tuesday. Details that could only be known by people with genuine connections.

    If true, I cannot speak as to what role would await Hulkenberg. Renault are said to be needing money just as badly as Williams (and would likely take Petrov over Hulkenberg because Petrov is beating him), Force India are said to have swen up Sutil (with a clause that alows him to escape to Mercedes if a drive becomes available – and he would likely be replaced by Liuzzi/di Resta), Sauber are locked out, Lotus are anticipating keeping Trulli and Kovalainen, Virgin are said to have already made offers to Jerome d’Ambrosio and Giedo van der Garde, and there’s no telling what HRT might do.

    Overall, it’s been a disappointing year for Hulkenberg. He won GP2 on his first attempt, which is a hard act to follow since the last man to do that was Nico Hulkenberg. If Hulkenberg is released by Williams, he’ll likely be able to score little more than a testing role, maybe with Mercedes.

    1. “He won GP2 on his first attempt, which is a hard act to follow since the last man to do that was Nico Hulkenberg”

      You mean Hamilton? ;)

      1. Well no, Nico Rosberg.

        1. No, Hamilton. Rosberg was the first to win it at his first attempt.

          1. Ha, I think that comes down to interpretation of words there, but can see where you’re coming from.

      2. Anshumaan Tuteja
        20th October 2010, 11:10

        more than anything that line really looks funny

    2. Now we will enjoy a real F1 driver….Maldonado will take care of the opportunity and PDVSA will support him as long as he needs him….same with the Venezuelan People and the whole LatinAmerica region…go Pastor!! you are the best and will prove it soon.

  2. Sorry do you have links for all these stories that are “said to be” happening?

    So you’re saying Sutil has a clause in his contract allowing him to go to one specific team should something become available, in that specific team?

    Absolute nonsense.

    1. I said “believed to”. Not confirmed. Considering that Mercedes supply Force India with engines, if they wany Sutil, then I’m sure they can work it out.

      1. – Renault are said to be needing money just as badly as Williams

        – Force India are said to have swen up Sutil

        – Virgin are said to have already made offers to Jerome d’Ambrosio and Giedo van der Garde

        I see a lot of “said to’s”. You’re missing my point. Sutil will not have a clause in his contract about going to a specific team. He may end up at Mercedes yes, but I doubt he contract will say “we will release you if Mercedes wants you”

        1. Yes, there are a lot of “said to’s” – but that’s because this is stuff that I’ve managed to glean from various reports in various publications written in various languages. It’s exactly what I did last year and I called twice as many driver moves as anyone else in the 2010 silly season. I’m very good at reading the driver market, even if I do say so myself.

          If Mercedes want Sutil as a potential replacement for Rosbeg/Schumacher, they will come to an arrangement with Force India. In return for a continued engine supply, or an engine supply at a reduced rate, Mercedes will request Sutil in the event there is a seat available. Force India have nothing to lose from this – even if Sutil does not go to Mercedes, Force India will still get a renewed/cheaper engine deal.

          Don’t underestimate the politics of the driver transfer market simply because you think it’s impossible. After all, Kimi Raikkonen had an iron-clad contract at Ferrari …

          1. Where does one start…..

            I think we’ll leave it at that.

          2. I don’t know. Where does one start? You’re in no position to call other people out when all you have to offer is “It’s absolutely not going to happen because I say it can’t” despite offering no evidence to support your claims. Me, I have a history of and a reputation for getting these things right to fall back on. You’ve got nothing more than … well, nothing. So from now on, how about you avoid contributing unless you actually have something to contribute at all?

          3. Mate lets just look at the facts here. This is an internet blog/forum – no one is calling out anyone. I never said nothing would happen, more the fact that one should not take a novices (and realistically, we all on here are novices) word as gospel as so often you like to preach. If you think you’re that amazing how about you start your own site. You sound like the next Eddie Jordan.

            But mate thats it. I don’t have the time or the immaturity to argue with someone on the internet. Clearly some are more territorial than others in cyberspace but I just don’t think I can stoop to that level.

            All hail Prisoners Monkeys

          4. Lol, now now children. :)

            PM, I was there for the last silly season on this forum. We all called as many right as we called wrong yourself included, I remember being on the same side as yourself in a 20 page plus discussion in which we catagorically denied, with far more convincing arguments than the tripe the overside was hauling up, that Button could ever, would ever go to McLaren.

            No one can really tell, it’s ridiculous to be outside and truly know what is going on, and what your being fed by various Mr 10%.

            All hail the squirrel nut zippers, no seriously, swing revival, can’t get enough of it.

          5. We all called as many right as we called wrong yourself included

            I’m not just talking about this forum. There’s two or three others that I’m a member of, and the discussions ran much later than the one here.

          6. So? I’m signed to a few forums, i’m talking about my experiance of this site, and of you on this site.

            Anyway, we still called right and wrong, and if you went with the choices you did here then same applies.

            This is such a pointless discussion, if you want it directly, chill your ego, you may have noticed it’s getting on peoples nerves. A fine poster you might be but reserve the superlatives and praise for the drivers.

          7. I agree, that FI would agree to a deal with Mercedes about Sutil, they agreed with Ferrari about Fisi last year as well (getting rid of money owed for the engine supply pre 2009, i suppose).

            What would be the point of keeping Sutil against his will and upsetting their engine partner as well.

  3. Not directed at you Keith, at a comment.

    1. That’s what the “Reply” button is for.

      1. It took a while, but f1fanatic finally has an internet warrior.


        1. I’m no internet warrior. I just know what I’m talking about.

          1. I’m no internet warrior. I just know what I’m talking about.

            You should keep that as you’re signature. :D

          2. I think we’ll leave it at that.

          3. CarsVsChildren
            20th October 2010, 14:43

            “I know what I’m talking about”

            is self justification.

            “He/She knows what he/she is talking about”

            is praise.

            which one do you hear more of?

          4. PEACE children PEACE!! Just agree to disagree :)

    2. Blah blah blah, you people are dreaming!! lol, we never know what will happened in this crazy sports. Everything changes from time to time.

  4. Whoop de do, another pay driver replacing someone better than he. Williams are closing in on 6th in the WCC this year, they can kiss goodbye to it next year.

    1. I agree. The Hulk has really got into this Williams of late and I could see him beating Rubens next year given the chance. Then again my gran could be beats Rubens… well at least off the line!

    2. If Williams have no cash, they can kiss goodbye to F1.

      1. Williams are moaning about the cost of accomodation in Korea.They now have committed to drive 3 hours each way,each day to their Hotel.This cannot be good for any driver/Don’t they have a motorhome same as the others in the F1 circus?

        1. Nobody has a motorhome in Korea, all are used only in European rounds…

        2. Don’t the drivers fly in by helicopter each day?

          1. There’s a heck of a lot more mechanics/support staff/general team members than there are drivers.

          2. i suppose that’s only for the likes of Alonso, Massa, Kimi, Lewis, Jenson, and possibly Rubens.

            Just think of HRTs drivers getting a helicopter ride to the track, that would cost more than any of them will be giving the team to drive this weekend!

    3. Agree mate. I don’t mind the fact that F1 is as much a business as it is a sport. But I am abosolutely gobsmacked at the idea that someone as talented as Hulkenberg might be without an F1 seat because he can’t bring sponsership money.

      This is the very very first time I have been annoyed at the ‘money’ aspect of F1.

      Plus, Maldonado is an ugly man…..and well it’s never acceptable to replace attractive with ugly ;-)

  5. Will. Never. Happen.

    1. Based on what, exactly?

      1. CarsVsChildren
        20th October 2010, 14:45

        You have the cheek to ask someone for proof?

        You have 4 ‘said to’s in your comment…

        1. Yes, but thats speculative evidence as to it happening, does Rohan have any evidence speculative or otherwise that says it won’t happen?

          1. Put it this way, do you really think that Frank and Patrick would demean themselves to the extent that they take on a pay driver?

            No? Didn’t think so.

          2. CarsVsChildren
            21st October 2010, 0:41

            No saying ‘Said to’ in an article is simply saying ‘said to’.

            Evidence is something that can be backed up, otherwise it is speculation and therefore as useful as Rohan’s comment.

            I personally have no problem with speculative evidence in f1, because lets face it without it there would be almost nothing to report.

            However it is a little bit hypocritical to chide someone-else for not providing evidence, when the same person fills the website with comments based on little more than “I am fantastic, I know everything, therefore I am right”.

            Hence my comment.

          3. Hmmmm, sounds like theres a small army of us….

          4. Rohan – Ummmmm, Kazuki Nakajima? Ring any bells?

            Damned straight Williams would take a pay driver. Such a shame if they do, though. The Hulkster has done what Nakajima (or Wurz) could never do, and what is a problem for a lot of new (or returning) drivers – get the hang of qualifying. I’m sure it’s part of Petrov’s issues, De La Rosa’s and probably Michael Schumacher’s. It’s also what made Christian Klien’s return so spectacular in Singapore imo.

            Hope Hulkenberg keeps his drive. Regardless of current points, he’s the rookie with the brightest future in my opinion. Either way, Go Williams!

  6. Would be a bit harsh on the Hulk if the Pastor replaced him. Times are tough though.

  7. I believe it’s a high risk more and more. I really am putting my faith in Wolf to sort out Williams financial state rather than a pay driver. Hulk really is partn of the future of F1. If they can hang onto him in a long term deal and he’ll move them up the WCC with Rubens then that’ll bring in some cash too. Hulk could be a future champion. If Williams do this then to me it shows how rubbish they are now and are just desparate to survive ratehr than aspiring to win again and they’ll have to wait even longer for some champagne.

    It’s a shame we’re debating this about such a team.

    1. It’s happened to some great teams, Lotus and Tyrell. It seems so sad that it’s happening to Williams. I honnestly don’t know where they can go from here, I think that might be it.

      1. Unless, they get a McLaren mercedes style deal with a big manufacturor.

        1. Yep it certainly has happened to some great teams. I just feel that whenever it happens to a big team then that’s it. Williams could pull themselves up again but they’ll ahve lost some of their spirit for me if they go this way. Of course, they could always take the money produce a blinder of a car and Rubens for the WDC ;)

        2. If they were lucky they could try and work a deal with Porsche/VW when they enter as an engine supplier. But Red Bull already has some ties to VW.

          1. CarsVsChildren
            21st October 2010, 0:44

            Honda or VW/Porsche upon the change in engine regulations would be brilliant for Williams.

      2. Fully agree. I would hope they can keep the Hülk in the car, he has been getting the best of Rubens at least in the races lately. And he beat Maldonado fair and square in his first year of GP2.

        If Williams go for a pay driver i fear this is the first step towards a painfull decline to being taken over by someone or just going bust in a few years.

  8. Maybe Hulkenberg should pull of a ‘Massa’ by spending a year on the sidelines at perhaps Mercedes, while the sponsorship issues at Williams settle, and then by 2012 move to Force India or eventually Williams or Mercedes. Hulkenberg isn’t a horrible driver, quite on the contrary; he has an impressive racing record and although he might not get a drive next year, he could take a productive year of testing, and improve substantially altogether like Massa did.

    1. Unfortunatley he can’t take the Glock route already being a GP2 champion. It would probably be in everyone’s interests if due to his efforts Williams past Force India.

      Hulkenburg is clearly too good not to be in F1, maybe a year in GT1 and DTM? An replacing Hulkenburg with a driver he beat in his rookie year smacks of desperation, I don’t particularly like Hulk, think he’s got a bad attitude but I hope Williams hold on to him

      He could win the Auto 1 title as well.

      1. I agree. It stinks of total desperation, but on the flip side if they hang on to Hülkenberg and go under due to lack of funds, that would be sad. Hopefully the new structure they’ve put in place will result in some kind of renaissance in management that will see them improving in the coming years.

      2. It looks like Willi Weber has lost his magic. Schu did not as he advised and the Hülk looks likely to lose his seat.

        But who knows, he might find a solution to be on the grid nex year, or is this Williams pushing them to put some serious money on the tables as well.

    2. I doubt Hulk could pull a Massa as when felipe was testing he was well allowed to actually test. Hulkenberg wouldn’t really get that much mileage unfortunately but if the rules aren’t as they are it would be a good option for him.

      1. I’d rather have Adrian Sutil in the Williams than Maldonado; it depends how much money Williams is after (Sutil has $3 million, Maldonado has $15 millon). If Sutil left Force India, this would open up the way for Paul di Resta, which would be what the fans want (or at least I do). The silly season is now starting to get even more exciting…

  9. “Money talks,
    drivers walk……..into f1 cars”

    Enjoy the poetry…

    What do I win Keith?

  10. I think Hulkenberg and the other rookies would be doing better if there was some testing. A big reason why Kobayashi is doing so well is because he was Toyota’s test driver in 2008.

    1. Interesting point about Kobi rfs, but I think that kid has a bit more going for him than just a his experience as a test driver. He’s got stones on the race track.

      I totally agree that there should be more testing… I hate the testing ban and the spending caps based on the false premise that it hurts smaller teams. Ferrari and Macca have always had unlimited funds and they have won the most WDC’s but they haven’t won them all. Benetton won, Williams won, and looks like RB could pull it off this year. F1 is a tough business.

      You can spend a ridiculous amount of money and still get it wrong wrong wrong! Look at the droughts that Macca and Ferrari have had!

      1. It was more the arms race precipitaited by the manufacturors, the amount of new parts they could bring was all money based, not good for the sport.

        I think bring back testing, give each team a limited number of inseason miles and a selection of tracks allowed, ie not the gradprix tracks. Also Friday drivers, have an extra pracice session in which no established drivers are allowed on track.

        1. That’s an interesting compromise Scribe… but I’d say unlimited testing during selected dates during the course of the season. It’s a bit weird that teams bring mid-season up dates to a track hoping they will work because they can’t test them on a track until Friday.

          1. I’d add that Honda and Toyota really had unlimited funds… but they are both gone and so is BMW… F1 is an art that few can master. Money is really not the key to success. Teamwork and just getting it right is the key.

      2. Spending caps are entirely not to blame. In fact they’d work how they were supposed to if we didn’t have limits on testing or engines and gearboxes. A team would have to choose how to spend their money: test out the new upgrades more or have a fresh engine for the race instead?

  11. Well Hulk did a good job so far in this season it will be bad to loose him who was GP2 champion & also helped Team Germany to win the A1 GP.

  12. Enough Germans in F1 at the moment, It’s Venezuela’s time! yeah!

  13. I actually like Hulk, the way he defend his positions ruthlessly remembers me old shumi, Williams shud not loose him.

    By the way any chances of him ending at FI?

    1. I agree. I think Hulk is slowly, yet steadily improving as a driver. If anyone had to leave Williams, I hope it be Barichello. His time ran out long ago, and I think his title shot last year was the only high he is going to have in his career. I really do not know why hes sticking around and not letting some frsh blood into F1.

      1. Re Barrichello:- Why should he leave? He still gives good results, he enjoys racing and more importantly someone’s willing to pay him to drive. I understand it’s important to let younger drivers in but not by elbowing experienced driver out. Imagine trying to do that in any other type of job, you’d end up in all sorts of hot water!..

      2. Interesting point. Let’s not forget that Barrichello hasn’t been re-signed yet. Maybe this is part of the problem at Williams. They feel they have to take the pay driver, but have to wait to see whether Hulk can lead the team yet. It could yet be Barrichello to get the chop….

        1. Last year Williams announced its lineup after the season was over (in late November if I’m not mistaken) so I don’t think it is worrying that they aren’t confirming their driver line-up yet.

      3. He’s shown plenty of times he can still cut it, he’s still getting good performances, and I’m sure he’s providing hugely to car development behind the scenes.

        So why exactly should he leave? He’s still got huge amounts of value to a team.

  14. They can’t choose this Pastor, he doesn’t even look out for yellow flags or marshals running onto a live circuit. The guy sounds like a hazard, so just keep hulk or get sutil in.

    Now i’m not trying to sound unbiased, but I don’t want to get killed by this clown just because he can’t be asked looking for flags, or people in orange jumpsuits because if he does i’ll haunt him.

    He can keep his money tbh and go plant flowers or something, that way it’s safer for everybody.

  15. I sincerely hope those rumors are just rumors which the team does nothing to stop as they can use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Willi Webber. Besides, Hulkenberg was a teams third driver for 2 years before getting a second seat in Williams.
    He was and is a long-term investment for Williams, I feel that another rookie in a car could cost Williams a lower championship position so it is doubtful how much will that petrol sponsorship really bring when you add everything up.

    And lets not even go into the fact that Hulkenberg as gp2 rookie completely dominated much more experienced Maldonando when they were teammates in ART last year.

  16. As PM reminded me a short time ago:

    It’s not about how good Hulkenberg is, It’s about the money.

    1. It is just a repeat of the rumors mentioned in this article, not a new information. Besides, article itself could do with a bit of fact checking – Williams aren’t losing Philips after this season, they extended and upgraded their deal this year because they were very happy with how much Philips shavers benefited from getting involved with Williams.
      RBS is definitely leaving due to well known reasons, Air Asia is out due to Fernandez’s involvement with Lotus and McGregor is last brand associated with Islandic Baugur group which had 4 brands on Williams car before the meltdown of Icelandic economy.

      Don’t think Williams marketing department is sitting idly doing nothing, they were the first ones to say goodbye to tobacco sponsorship, they have an unique title sponsor which paid for title and left a lot of room on the car for other sponsors and year after year they are reaching in new markets and getting new sponsors so I’m confident they have a replacement ready for sponsors that are leaving. Those deals are announced just before the car launch so even if there are new deals ready and signed they aren’t public any more.

  17. Guys Nico is 10 times better than Maldonado, the only thinks here is the money, Hulk said today I will not pay for the seat, the talent counts that’s the point.

    The dirty money that Maldonado bring to F1 is the same that support terrorism in Colombia, Spain and more, is the same dirty money coming from robbery and kill his own people in Venezuela, that’s terrible, I follow Williams for years, he has some many good drivers but now I am totally disappoint that Franks for money Dirty money will replace the good one, the F1 do not need this type of s.

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