Maldonado not guaranteed Lotus seat despite PDVSA backing

Pastor Maldonado’s seat at the Lotus F1 Team is not guaranteed despite the financial support PDVSA bring into the team, according to CEO Matthew Carter.

The Venezuelan has scored points just once so far in his Lotus career, a ninth place in the United States Grand Prix of 2014, and brings in an estimated $27million of sponsorship with PDVSA backing.

Despite many believing that money talks and Maldonado’s position in the team is secure, Carter revealed that no driver is in a position where they cannot be dropped.

“PDVSA are probably one of the biggest sponsors within F1,” said Carter to Autosport. “They are a good sponsor, and while our latest figures stack up, they stack up contingent on PDVSA being involved within the team.

“At the moment they are part and parcel of what makes up our budget, so we’re not looking to change.

“But then no driver is in a position where they cannot be dropped. They’re only as good as their previous performances, and ultimately Pastor proves himself on the track.”

Despite this, Carter remains confident of the ability of Maldonado, and bemoaned his bad luck so far in 2015 after being taken out of contention in the first two races in incidents that were no fault of his, and suffered with brake issues in China.

“He gets a lot of bad press, but he is a good driver,” said Carter. “He’s also a quick driver, we know that, we know what he does in the simulator and what he does off the track.

“He didn’t have a good car last year – neither him nor Romain [Grosjean] had a good car – and both of them were probably guilty of trying to overdrive it because of the problems they had with it.

“This year they do have a good car. With Pastor, his qualifying hasn’t been great and he would be the first to admit to that.

“In the first race [in Australia] he had a fantastic start, but was shunted off the track, similarly in the second [in Malaysia]. In China, in the first half of the race he drove really well, but had a slight issue with his brakes coming into the pit, and then it was playing catch up from there on.

“Overall we believe we’ve given him the right tools this year to prove himself, and he’s the rest of the season to do that.”