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Williams denies Maldonado bought his seat
Williams chairman Adam Parr has dismissed suggestions the team's new recruit Pastor Maldonado is little more than a Formula One "pay driver".
Despite Nico Hulkenberg's solid rookie season with the British team, including pole position in Brazil, he was released at the end of the 2010 campaign and replaced by the heavily-financed Venezuelan Maldonado. Although Hulkenberg dominated Maldonado when they were team-mates in GP2, the 25-year-old won the feeder series this year.
Parr said the description of Maldonado as a pay driver is "repulsive and irrelevant … we have never sat a driver in our car who we did not think was ready for Formula 1, deserved to be in Formula 1 and was capable of delivering.
"The guy [Maldonado] has just won the GP2 championship with a rookie team, winning more races than anyone else. The mere fact that we have to talk about this is absurd."
He insisted that Maldonado is a "great talent" and that it is "not just our opinion". "We work with an independent driver coach and he believes that, in terms of pure speed and talent, Pastor has as much capacity as the two Nicos [Hulkenberg and Rosberg]."
Parr also denied that Maldonado's tenure will be a short-lived one. "We do not see it as a one year agreement but a long term investment. If you have a young talented driver, it is a promise for the future, and if he also has sponsors, all the better.
"Money is irrelevant. Fernando Alonso's sponsor [Santander] is the biggest in Formula 1."
As for the job-seeking Hulkenberg, Parr said he sees a bright future for the young German, even though there is no room at Williams in 2011. "I would like to see him with Williams again. He has the dedication and the passion to be a great driver and I was so impressed with his maturity and professionalism."
"I hope he finds something somewhere else and on the other hand I would like to keep up a relationship with him."