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Finances thwart Maldonado's Sauber ambitions

ESPNF1 Staff
October 5, 2010 « Heidfeld confident he will stay in F1 next year | »
Pastor Maldonado hoped the GP2 title would help him secure a drive with Sauber © Sutton Images
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Pastor Maldonado, the 2010 GP2 champion, had hoped to secure the Sauber race seat alongside Kamui Kobayashi for 2011 which eventually went to the GP2 runner-up Sergio Perez.

At Monza last month Maldonado, who is managed by Nicolas Todt and backed by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and even the South American country's president Hugo Chavez, said he had held several meetings with Peter Sauber.

"Everything has been put on the table," he told Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio. "My experience and growth as a driver, that I am ready for the challenge of Formula One, details of what we can invest. PDVSA is important to our project and I know that our package is very good."

He did, however, recognise it was a tough fight for the one seat. "I know I'm not alone in the fight for this place at Sauber … there are people in the play with plenty of ballast."

In the end the finances 20-year-old Mexican Perez will bring to Sauber secured him the drive. Perez's sponsor is Telmex, the Mexican telecommunications giant headed by the world's richest man Carlos Slim.

"Peter Sauber does not like inexperienced drivers who commit many mistakes," Oricchio said. "But the Swiss had little choice: either accept the proposals of Hugo Chavez or Carlos Slim, or not race in the next world championship. It's so difficult to get a sponsor to invest €30 million a season, and I believe the negotiations with Telmex were in that range."