ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Venezuelan Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado said on Thursday he had several offers on the table for next season and the decision to leave or stay at Williams would be up to him.
Responding to increasing paddock speculation that he is heading for Lotus, Maldonado told reporters at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that no decision had been made yet.
“The decision will be down to me. So I prefer to take some more time. I really hope to have the decision before the end of the season, still a couple of weeks to go so we’ll see,” he said.
“I cannot guarantee I will leave the team or I will stay.”
Maldonado, winner from pole position in Spain last year, has endured a grim season at former champions Williams with only one point to his and the team’s credit.
He said he was taking his time to analyze the offers because it was a big decision to make and he needed to feel comfortable with it.
Williams are switching from Renault to Mercedes power next season when the sport is undergoing a major upheaval with the introduction of a new turbocharged V6 and energy recovery systems.
Cash-strapped Lotus are the only team still to seal an engine deal for 2014 although they are sure to remain with Renault who also power champions Red Bull.
“Mercedes look quite strong so for sure I’m taking that into consideration,” said Maldonado.
Asked whether Lotus was the preferred option, he said he could not comment.
Maldonado has been heavily backed throughout his career by Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA, who are Williams’s biggest sponsor, and the driver hoped their support would continue wherever he went.
“I hope if I move they come with me but I cannot guarantee that,” he said.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin editing by Tony Jimenez