Pastor Maldonado’s F1 future is looking cloudy due to a political change in his native home of Venezuela, including economic problems, which could affect his financial backing in the sport.
First reported by The Telegraph, and then followed up by a number of other publications, the Venezuelan’s place with Renault in 2016 is uncertain, despite the fact that it has been confirmed that he will be driving for the team in the upcoming season.
Maldonado has been receiving financial support throughout his career, by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, with support from Hugo Chavez until his death in 2013 and president Nicolas Maduro. However, due to the fall in the worldwide price of oil and the defeat of Maduro’s party in the recent Venezuelan elections, the large amount of funding the Maldonado receives is now under threat.
PDVSA is now overdue on payments, causing officials from Renault to travel to Venezuela in order to resolve the issue and strike up a new deal. If the situation proves to be unresolvable, Kevin Magnussen, former McLaren driver, has reportedly been lined up to take Maldonado’s seat, and has already been given a tour of the team’s facilities and Enstone.
Renault is reportedly planning to release further details on its works return to F1 in February ahead of its pre-season testing, meaning that its driver line-up will need to be confirmed by then.