The Venezuelan racing driver Pastor Maldonado has a seat at Williams F1. He has produced the reputation of being somewhat wild, and in most races it seems as though he will be involved in hitting someone along the way. Last meeting at Silverstone he successfully put paid to any chance for Sauber’s Sergio Perez, leading to Perez wanting more official sanctions against the Venezuelan.
However, if you think the Williams F1 will do the ‘noble’ thing of sidelining their driver – think again. Maldonado pays for his seat, and pays dearly.
Formula 1 is famous for its paying drivers, those who bring sponsors’ money to the team, and those who earn a seat for a season or even just a few races. But it looks like that no one has paid more than PDVSA, the national oil company of Venezuela, who signed a USD 46 million check to the benefit of the Williams F1 in return for a seat for Pastor Maldonado, for the 2012 F1 season. The check was paid on October 31, 2011.
How did this knowledge become public? Details of the check came to light due to allegations coming from President Hugo Chavez’s opponents, who demanded the contract be made public. A photo copy of the invoice Williams issued to PDSVA confirms the amount. According to various leaks, the contract runs until the end of the 2015 season with a payment increase by 2015, when PDVSA will pay Williams F1 USD 63 million a season.
Maldonado’s rookie season in F1 with Williams F1 last year wasn’t a brilliant one, as he finished in the top 10 only once, scoring 1 point for the season, and never made it to Q3 in qualifying. Last season was Williams’ worst season ever as the team collected only 5 points and finished a distant 9th in the Constructors’ World Championship. By the end of the season the team lost its major sponsor AT&T and still hasn’t revealed a new title sponsor. During the season most of the senior technical staff parted company with the team and new staff was recruited to design Williams’ 2012 car. The team also broke its engines supply contract with Cosworth in favor of a new contract with Renault.
This year, Bruno Senna joined Maldonado, and he too is a pay driver. Driver payments offsetting somewhat the loss of revenue from sponsors. However, if you can top Maldonado’s USD 46 million, I am sure Sir Frank Williams would like to hear from you.