Maldonado's F1 future shrouded in speculation

Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:21pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado's future at the Renault-owned Lotus team was called into question on Wednesday amid speculation about his funding from Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA.

The BBC, citing unnamed sources, reported that substantial sponsorship money from PDVSA was several weeks overdue and Maldonado's seat was at risk.

Danish driver Kevin Magnussen, the 23-year-old who was released by McLaren last October after an impressive 2014 debut, has also been seen visiting the team's factory recently.

Renault, who completed their purchase of Lotus last month, have yet to name a reserve driver and Magnussen would be well qualified for that role after failing to secure a race drive elsewhere.

The website, in an unsourced report, said Renault officials were in Venezuela for talks with PDVSA but Magnussen was on the shortlist if a Plan B was needed.

Lotus had announced both Maldonado and British rookie Jolyon Palmer, winner of Formula One's GP2 feeder series in 2014, as their 2016 drivers before the Renault takeover had been finalised.

Renault are due to hold a news conference in Paris in February to announce their plans and will want to be sure about the driver line-up before then.

The season starts in Australia on March 20.   Continued...

Pastor Maldonado of Lotus during practice in 2015.
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei