Maldonado hoping for 2017 return to F1, says manager

Tue Feb 2, 2016 8:15am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado has not given up on Formula One and hopes to be back next year after being dropped by the Renault-owned Lotus team, his manager Nicolas Todt said on Tuesday.

"I don't see any concrete opportunity for Formula One this year," the Frenchman told Reuters. "We will try to bounce back in 2017."

The Frenchman, son of International Automobile Federation (FIA) president and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, said the decision to replace Maldonado had come late in the day but the split was amicable.

Maldonado announced on Monday, in a statement posted on Twitter, that he would not be on the starting grid when the season starts in Australia on March 20.

The only Venezuelan to win a grand prix, with Williams in 2012, the driver did not say what he planned to do or give any reason for his absence.

Media reports indicated, however, that his backers, the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA that has paid tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship, had missed scheduled payments to the team.

PDVSA has been hit by plunging oil prices and economic crisis in Venezuela, which is in recession and where annual inflation has risen to almost 150 percent.

"I don't want to go into the details of the contract," said Todt "The agreement was terminated in a friendly manner with Renault so no hard feelings. They behaved very fairly."   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - Russian Grand Prix 2015 - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - 9/10/15
Pastor Maldonado of Lotus during practice
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei