Pastor Maldonado gets Williams drive for 2011

2011 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Williams have finally confirmed Pastor Maldonado will make his F1 debut with them in 2011.

The Venezuelan driver who won the GP2 championship this year completes their line-up, joining Rubens Barrichello at the team.

Maldonado said:

I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers. It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me.

I tested with the team in Abu Dhabi, but can’t wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year. I will be doing my best over the winter to prepare myself, and I know the team will be working hard to ensure a successful season.

2011 will be the first time in nearly thirty years that a Venezuelan has driven a Formula One car so I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.
Pastor Maldonado

Team principal Frank Williams added:

Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race at Monaco. Since then, he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins, particularly during this year’s GP2 championship, taking an unsurpassed record of six successive victories.

Of course, we already know Pastor from the time he spent with the team at the Abu Dhabi test, but we are very much looking forward to developing his talent over the winter and a fruitful season with him next year.
Frank Williams

Maldonado is the fifth of six GP2 champions to move up into Formula 1, joining Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock and Nico Hulkenberg. The only one who failed to make the transition was 2008 champion Giorgio Pantano.

He will be the third Venezuelan driver to compete in F1. The first was Ettore Chimeri, who drove a Maserati in the 1960 Argentinian Grand Prix.

The other was Johnny Cecotto who started a total of 18 Grands Prix in 1983 and 1984, first with Theodore and then as Ayrton Senna’s team mate at Toleman. But he broke his legs in a crash in practice for the British Grand Prix, ending his F1 career.

Venezuelan Indy Car racer Ernesto Viso made a single appearance for Midland in practice for the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Q&A with Pastor Maldonado

What started your career in motor sport?
PM: Having competed themselves, my father and my uncle are very passionate about motor sport, so I inherited it from them. In my city of Maracay, there is a go kart circuit about five minutes from my home. When I was about three or four years old I said I wanted to race but I was too young, then when I reached the age of seven my father gave me a kart and we started from there. From that moment until now we have never stopped.

After karting in Venezuela, I came to Europe in 1998 to compete in international kart races, which was great for me to get experience racing outside my country. After consistently being at the top, I decided to move to Italian Formula Renault. I won the championship in my second year. We made the jump to GP2 in 2007 but I only did half a season as I had an injury. We came back in 2008 and finished fifth in the championship, just six points adrift of the leader in a very close championship.

You were crowned GP2 champion this year. What does that feel like?
PM: It was an incredible season. We were competitive from the beginning and went on to win six races. The team worked well together to achieve victory and by the middle of the season I already had a good gap and took the title at Monza.

Do you think you are ready for F1?
PM: GP2 is a very good championship; it really prepares drivers well for F1. I have worked very hard to get to this position and yes, I definitely feel ready.

How does it feel knowing you will be driving for AT&T Williams next year?
PM: Williams do an amazing job. It is unbelievable to be here and to be part of the team. It is a dream.

What do you make of your new team mate Rubens Barrichello?
PM: For sure Rubens is a pleasure to have as a team mate as he is a very experienced driver. I can learn so much from him. It will be fun as he is South American too! I think it is going to be a very interesting team.

How will you prepare for your first F1 season over the winter?
PM: I will keep pushing in my training and working in the simulator. We don’t have a long time, just one or two months before the first test, and I am going to be fit and ready.

You had a day in the FW32 at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test. How did that go?
PM: It was amazing. It was a big moment for me because only days before I had been driving a GP2 car and there are some big differences. I improved lap after lap and completed the programme so it was a very good experience for me.

What are the differences between a GP2 car and an F1 car?
PM: There are three big differences. The first is the difference in engine power; the F1 car has amazing power and a higher top speed. Secondly, the braking point; the brakes are a lot harder in F1. Finally there is much more downforce and general grip.

You will be only the fourth Venezuelan to have ever driven a Formula One car. What does that mean to you?
PM: It has been nearly 30 years since Venezuela has had a driver in Formula One so the country has been pushing young drivers in the hope of having someone represent them. I am happy to now be that driver.

To summarise, what will be your objectives for the 2011 season?
PM: I just want to do my best, to be as close to the top as I can and to get the maximum out of the car. The team are working very hard and I need to push to be at the top as soon as possible. I am a rookie but that isn’t going to be a problem. I need to keep focussed and to do my job.

Read more: 2011 F1 drivers and teams

Image © Williams/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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

63 comments on “Pastor Maldonado gets Williams drive for 2011”

  1. He’s fast and he’s wild – not unlike Sutil. Should be fun watching next season!

  2. Lets hope he can beat Barrichello and force him out of F1.

    1. Why do you say that? In my opinion Barrichello’s one of the best on the grid, despite his age.

      1. Agreed totally.

      2. Agree. He still outqualified Hulkenberg this year a lot of times.

        Shows he’s still there to show his hand, specially if they line him alonside a rookie.

        Barrichello-Hulkenberg would’ve been one of the best pairings on the grid tho… sad it won’t happen.

      3. I think Rubens was pretty good this year. But I’m just sick of seeing him year after year.. he is not going to win any more titles or races.. and hes got no more future in the sport.

        1. Rubens brings a lot to the sport, an extremely experienced racer who still has a firey passion for the sport.

          He provides a great set up for the car, and is part of the reason why Williams are on the way up again.

          Last year he was doing most of the set up work and Jenson Button was copying a lot of it. This is great to see he still has a great handle on the car, which he can enevitably pass on to his team mates.

          This is why Williams are utilising his talent to the most and putting a rookie next to him who will feed off his great set up skills.

          Yes, granted, he isnt going to win anything any time soon, unless Williams pull something amazing out of the bag but I enjoy seeing him on the race track. We don’t just want a field full of rookies, thats called GP2.

        2. Rubens was going to be out after 2008. Then he was kept in 2009 and won 2 races.
          If he can drive a good car he can still win. He hasn’t lost his speed, he has drived in the same way every year.

        3. what a ridiculous comment. 80% of the drivers on the grid won’t win a race, and probably 90% won’t win another championship.

          Should they all quit too?

      4. I disagree .Rubens should’ve stopped at the same time as MSC. He must be really cheap, or is paying for the seat.

        1. Well it’s certainly not like Rubens needs the money. If he is going racing for his love of the sport, which I find is very obvious, than good on him! He has proven in the last two seasons and arguably with his superb drive in the wet at Silverstone in 08′ that he’s still got it. And after that many seasons, after being treated as a doormat for Schumacher for years and then having to endure a horrid Honda, Rubens deserves any and all success that has waited so long to come his way. I am delighted he is still on the grid and I hope he continues to lead this Williams Renaissance next season and on into the future.

          1. Rubens is one of my favourites, He is at least as passionate about the sport as any other member of the F1 community.

        2. Why should he have stopped, have you a reason?

    2. Sweet dreams my friend, ha ha!!

    3. Why say that? What could anyone have against Rubens Barrichello, honestly?

  3. I wonder how he’ll fare in the team compared to Hulkenberg. Hulk’s got one extra year of experience but they’re both GP2 champions. Despite his one extraordinary pole and regular top 10 appearances Hulkenberg seemed to underwhelm a lot of people, probably because they were expecting the next Hamilton thanks to his prior racing credentials, but if he can keep up with Rubens Barrichello then he more than deserves a place on the grid. Let’s see if Maldonado can do the same.

    1. Well, where will Hulkenberg be in 2011?

      1. In Mercedes, if the recent rumors are true

        1. As a “test” driver, yes, wich means it will be impossible to compare the two.

          1. You’ll be able to compare Maldonado’s form against Barrichello, and see if it matches Hülkenberg’s 2010 form against Barrichello. I think that’s probably a better benchmark than comparing them in two different cars anyhow.

  4. Its strange, 2 years ago I was saying Maldonado deserved his place in F1. He was an excellent overtaker and an exciting driver to watch. Now though I cant help be feel he doesnt really deserve it, despite him winning GP2. 2009, when he was destroyed by Hulkenburg was the turning point for me. And as Soucek is saying now, you have to be backed by a government to get into F1.

    1. The list of drivers and teams for next year which gets updated is at the one at the bottom of the article, which has already been updated:

      2011 F1 drivers and teams

  5. Opting for money over talent is just another nail in Williams’ coffin. If they can’t get manufacturer support in time for the 2013 regulation changes, they’ll be screwed.

    I thought the era of pay drivers was all but over since around 2005. Looks like I thought wrong. The financial crash has really opened up F1 to anyone with a nice fat wallet, providing they have a modcium of talent

    1. Well seeing as Nakajima was effectively a pay driver brought in in order to secure Toyota engines, pay drivers are nothing new for Williams. At least Maldonado is a GP2 Champion, so not an utter hack.

      Although I don’t like the fact that Williams dumped Hulkenburg, I think that if Maldonado has more Talent than Nakajima and is not to far off where Hulkenburg was (or possibly even better) and allows Williams to secure a budget big enough to help them become more competitive, then they will have taken the right decision. After all, however good Hulkenburg was, the car this year wasn’t fast enough, and wasn’t going to get quicker next year with RBS and Air Asia (and Philips as well?) leaving at the end of the year. That lack of sponsorship really would have been a nail in the coffin of Williams.

      1. Yeah, you make soom good points. But I just think they’re making a big mistake by letting go of Hulkenberg

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        2nd December 2010, 0:52

        The system of tiered feeder categories and the demand for a superlicence means that even the meanest pay driver has to have a modicum of talent to put himself in a postion whereby a team will even consider him before he can buy a racing seat.

    2. It’s a shame Ned. But at the same time,

      It sure makes me wish I had a fat wallet! I know I’ve got the modicum of talent ;)
      atleast on the codemasters game anyway.

      1. Ah, Then you’ll be waned to get in touch with Kolles, I hear the biddings on for the HRT seats.

        *Note: *Seat may not be literally built at the time of purchase. *Seat advertised may not be full sized model. *Seat may be shared between more than one driver.

    3. Surely it’s best to go for talent and investment if you can. So Williams are being sensible and doing both. Pastor will be a quick driver – proven by winning GP2 – which suggests he is as good as Huelkenburg, plus he has the added advantage of bringing much needed capital to the Grove team.

      1. ” proven by winning GP2 – which suggests he is as good as Huelkenburg,”

        It doesn’t mean he’ll automatically be as good as Hulkenberg. Nico shone in GP2 and it took Pastor forever to win the title and when he finally did do it, all the big names were rookies and all the top dogs of GP2 had left for F1 that season.

  6. Ned, don’t be to pessimistic. I think he counts less as a pay driver than Petrov this year, and Petrov was a not just a pay driver but a rookie with some promise and solid backing.
    With the field as competative as it is right now, teams will have to get drivers up to performing on a high level quickly. Bringing money or having promising results only buy them a bit of time to show what they can acheive.
    Just a shame, that without testing it makes it extremely hard to actually get in nowadays.

  7. i wish williams have terrible 2011 season for dropping hulk :<

    1. Hulkenberg might have left of his own accord though! there’s still rumours flying about all over the place, particularly with Mercedes and Force India which he may have deemed better options than Williams.

      1. Apparently he was offered a long contract with Williams but had to spend the first year with HRT and refused. Hopefully he’ll find a seat…

  8. Craig Woollard
    1st December 2010, 16:18

    Hulkenberg > Maldonado.

  9. I find it really hard to care about any of these newcomers. It’s a shame that guys like hulk and petrov may be kept out of decent seats because of their funding (or lack thereof).

    Speed TV did a good job of not covering the faceless grid fillers this year.

    1. Petrov has plenty of backing behind him.

  10. Hulkenburg is soooooooooooooo much better than Maldonado, winning his GP2 title in his rookie year. while Maldonado pfff, fifth season minimum (i think)

    1. Exactly. If Pantano didn’t make it into F1 (correctly) then why Maldonado?

      1. Pantano had already been in F1 and didn’t exactly set the world alight. He wasn’t the only one to drop back to GP2 and subsequently win the title – Glock did the same – but you can see why he wasn’t first on any team’s “most wanted” list.

        Pantano was also spectacularly unlucky in that the year he won the GP2 title, virtually no one in F1 changed teams. Had he won it a year earlier or later it’s conceivable a vacancy may have been found for him.

        1. I did feel sorry for Pantano, yeah it took him forever to accomplish what he did, but he would have atleast been decent for a midfield team or a back marker. What Glock did though was outstanding. Whereas most people would have given up after such a short and unspectacular tenure in F1, he fought back in GP2 and has proven himself a real racer. If anyone needs confirmation of this, go to youtube and look up the battle he has with Hamilton and others in GP2 from 2006 in Turkey I believe. It was fantastic. It’s just a shame that he’s stuck wandering around the back of the pack in that Virgin, er I mean Marussia Virgin (Which just sounds dirty!) But who knows, maybe Nick Wirth’s CFD approach will come good eventually and give Glock and whoever races alongside him a nice car someday.

          1. To me, Glock was always a case of untapped potential. Most people forget that in his first GP, he scored points (albeit after Williams and Toyota were DSQed) and beat Nick Heidfeld! It may have been short, but for me, it was a pretty spectacular run. The only reason he didn’t get a 2005 seat was he couldn’t bring money to the table – something he didn’t need to worry about at Toyota.

            It was great to see him come back and do well at Toyota. I thought his potential was about to be fulfilled… then he went to Virgin and his potential went untapped again.

            But hey, he is still unconfirmed at Virgin for 2011. He can still end up at Renault or Force India, which would do him a world of good.

    2. Pastor is a Revolutionary guy and represeting the new world….get ready to smell burned rubber and gas all over…he will teach all those drivers how to get things done!

      Viva Pastor and Simon Bolivar

      1. represeting the new world

        Rubens > *sad face*

  11. Shame for Hulkenberg to lose his F1 seat. He has been rather impressive in the second half of the season, much closer to Barrichello and often beating him, regularly in the top 10 shootout and a pole position.

    Maldonado finally won GP2 , but only after all the talented drivers left. Think of it; Glock, Buemi, Di Grassi, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Chandhok, Senna, Kobayashi, Grosjean and Nakajima all moved upto F1 since he started in GP2 in 2007.

    That said Kobayashi didnt do well in Gp2, but has been very impressive in F1. So there is still hope for him yet.

  12. We’ll see how he gets on. But if he fails in F1, Williams’ chances of getting back to the top will look worse than ever.

    1. I agree. This is gonna be kind of a make or break year for Williams I feel.

  13. The first time Williams have 2 non-European drivers since… I don’t even know when, if ever.

    1. Jones and Reutemann in 1981, I think.

      1. Well, that’s some time ago.

    2. And while we are at it, this season will be the first since 1996 where Williams doesn’t have a German driver contracted for the season.

  14. HounslowBusGarage
    1st December 2010, 20:19

    Venezuen Indy Car race Ernesto Viso

    Damn, another one of those drivers from Venus, eh?
    Sorry Keith, couldn’t help myself.

    1. Fixed it, thanks HBG.

  15. US Williams Fan
    1st December 2010, 23:28

    Not sure how I feel about this – Pastor has promise – but I don’t know if he will be a better driver than the HULK.

    Hope he does well!

  16. I think it’s probably going to be a big shame that Maldonado drives for Williams rather than Hulkenberg. Next season will be the fourth year in a row that Williams has a driver that needs to get to grips with qualifying – and we all know how important that is.

    Nakajima just couldn’t qualify. There was no real problem with his racing. Hulkenberg was getting to grips with it really well, which is a double shame to see him end up out the door. I just hope that Maldonado can get it right very quickly, or else Williams will have taken one step forward and two steps back regarding future sponsorship opportunities.

  17. I like the fact that people are talking trash about Maldonado, saying that Nico was soooo much better, that’s just bulls**t, Kobayashi didn’t impress in gp2 and he is doing very good, beside, it will be even better when Pastor shows everybody how good and prepared for F1 he is, I’m sure he will do better than Hulkenberg

    Anyway… my point is that you can’t judge someone if he hasn’t even compete in a F1 race, and now he’s confirmed at williams, so you all will have to deal with it.

  18. Hulkenberg is overrated. I think GP2 as a series has become overrated. There’s just a very big influence of the car on the championship. Hulkenberg was a disappointment in the Macau GP Formula 3 race, for example, but went on to win GP2. In f1, he was constantly beaten by his team mate in qualifying. The pole position in Brasil was due to a mix of circustances, on a track that was changing every lap due to better weather conditions. It was impressive, no doubt, but on the race you could see his true pace.

    You can’t judge a driver’s talent by winning GP2, IMO. Kobayashi is a very good example of that. Drivers like Vettel and Alguersari, for example, skipped GP2 altogether.

  19. There is no doubt that this guy have talent but many people do know that he is chosen because he is talented & bringing sponsor to the team. I hope both works well.

  20. “For sure”, he’s already talking like an F! driver anyway…

  21. Shame they dropped Hulkenberg, cause I think he was getting to grips with F1, like some of you think too. I wish him all the best (in F1!!!)

    On the other hand, I too agree that Williams needs some cash, so it’s only logical to chose the GP2 champion who happens to be backed by the national oil company of Venezuela. I get that strange feeling to compare him to one of the lost talents in F1, who also drove for Williams and was from S-America too: JP Montoya. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this thought, for myself and for Williams.
    I also hope that Rubens will keep doing his best in 2011 and beyond…

  22. I understand that Maldonado has got this seat because he bring money from Venezuela. Specifically Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

    Well I just read in the Guardian, that PDVSA are being squeezed, that there output is nowhere near what they claim. And that Venezuela is suffering 30%+ inflation.

    You have to wonder how secure those funds are.

  23. Houselowbusgarage,
    I completely disagree with you!
    You sound like a racist. Pastor Maldonado has shown a great talent in GP2 by winning the championship title this season. He won six races, perhaps would have won more races if there is anyone close enough to stop him from winning the championship. Lewis Hamilton nearly won formula 1 championship as a rookie. He showed great performance, set record upon record as well as making his former teammate Fernando Alonso look weak behind the wheel. Pastor is not exceptional to such great performance because he has speed. He will do Venezuelans proud including president Hugo Chavez who has been a great supporter of GP2 and formula 1 race.

Comments are closed.