Lotus F1 team confirms Pastor Maldonado for 2016 season

Pastor Maldonado will continue with Lotus for a third Formula 1 season into 2016, bringing to an end speculation about the Venezuelan's future

Lotus F1 team confirms Pastor Maldonado for 2016 season

Despite the fact Maldonado has a contract with Lotus for next year, the 30-year-old's F1 career appeared to be on the line with Renault due to take over the Enstone-based organisation.

Renault, however, has been unable to negotiate an upfront payment from Bernie Ecclestone with regard to its return to F1 as a constructor, and in particular with regard to it being granted historical status.

In holding Maldonado to his contract, Renault receives the $50million of financial backing from his sponsor PDVSA that will help it into 2016.

AUTOSPORT understands Renault also had no intention of spending money to buy Maldonado out of the one year remaining on his deal.

Should the PDVSA cash be immediately forthcoming, the money will also help the team pay off HMRC as a debt of £1.8million in PAYE remains unpaid for the months of June and July, with another £900,000 pending for August.

On Friday, on a second visit to the High Court for the team, Justice Birrs agreed to a second and final reprieve from insolvency proceedings brought against Lotus by HMRC.

With regard to Maldonado, Lotus chairman and team principal Gerard Lopez said: "It's a positive for the future of the team that we are able to confirm that Pastor remains with us for next season.

"Everyone at Enstone will testify Pastor is a terrific person to work with and we all know the performances he is capable of on track.

"Pastor joined us with a multi-year deal, so this confirmation is a reiteration of our belief in him."

Maldonado, meanwhile, is relieved he now has another season of F1 to look forward to.

"It's great the team can confirm my position as race driver for 2016," he said.

"Obviously, there has been a lot of speculation about the future, and whilst I have remained focused on my job on track, it is also positive to know my future is confirmed.

"This season has presented us with some challenges, but the quality of the squad at Enstone is clear to see.

"I really feel part of the family and I'm looking forward to building on the work done this year to deliver better results in 2016."

Lopez, meanwhile, has expressed hope of making "further positive announcements regarding the team in the near future", with the main one due to be Renault's takeover.

2016 F1 DRIVER LINE-UP

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton/Nico Rosberg

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel/Kimi Raikkonen

Williams
Felipe Massa/Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo/Daniil Kvyat*

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg/Sergio Perez*

Lotus
Pastor Maldonado/TBA

McLaren
Fernando Alonso/TBA

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson/Felipe Nasr

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen*/TBA

Manor
TBA/TBA

Haas
TBA/TBA

*likely but not yet confirmed

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