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Williams confirms Pastor Maldonado for 2012
Maldonado had initially seemed set to stay with the team until doubts over his Venezuelan backing, with his omission from the FIA entry list increasing speculation that his seat was not secure. However, Williams has moved to confirm one of its race drivers for next season, and despite only scoring one point in 2011 Maldonado said that he had developed as a driver.
"I am delighted to be able to continue with Williams into my second season and I will give my very best to help the team as we push to return to the front of the grid," Maldonado said. "This has been a tough season for the whole team but it has given me personally the opportunity to learn and develop. I am convinced that the steps we have taken to improve our competitiveness will bear fruit in 2012 and beyond. I am thrilled to be part of that and also to represent the people of Venezuela in Formula One."
Team principal Frank Williams praised Maldonado's raw speed, being the only Williams driver to qualify in the top ten this season.
"Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able to maintain a consistent and strong race pace," Williams said. "Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners. He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward."
Bottas impressed during the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi, and had been tipped as a potential race driver in 2012, replacing Rubens Barrichello. However, Williams said he wanted Bottas to build up experience in Friday practice, while hinting that the team's other driver would be "more experienced".
"We have a very specific approach to young driver development, working with one highly talented individual over a period of years. Valtteri has proved a very capable and rounded young man of fierce determination. As the team's Reserve Driver, we anticipate that Valtteri will participate in a Friday practice session at 15 Grands Prix next year, most likely with a more experienced driver taking over for the remainder of the race weekend. We will announce the identity of that driver in due course."