“I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers,” said Venezuelan-born Maldonado. “It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me. I tested with the team in Abu Dhabi, but can’t wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year.”
Maldonado, now 25, started his motorsport career in karts at the age of seven, his passion for the sport ignited by a father and uncles who all competed. Having won seven national karting titles, he moved into Formula racing in 2003. With three series championships and 30 wins to his credit, including victory at Monaco in his debut year in GP2 in 2007, he brings a wealth of single-seater experience to Williams.
“I will be doing my best over the winter to prepare myself, and I know the team will be working hard to ensure a successful season,” he continued. “2011 will be the first time in nearly 30 years that a Venezuelan has driven a Formula One car so I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.”
Maldonado’s promotion to Formula One follows an impressive 2010 GP2 campaign in which he was crowned champion and became the only driver to win six successive feature races in a single season. He also comes to Williams with nearly 2,000 kilometres of F1 testing mileage in hand, having driven all four of the recent Abu Dhabi test days.
“Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race at Monaco,” commented Williams team principal Frank Williams. “Since then, he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins, particularly during this year’s GP2 championship.
“Of course, we already know Pastor from the time he spent with the team at the Abu Dhabi test, but we are very much looking forward to developing his talent over the winter and a fruitful season with him next year.”
Maldonado will make his debut in Williams’ 2011 race car, the Williams Cosworth FW33, in next February’s winter test programme.