Lotus F1 sign Maldonado and his money

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Lotus once crowed about their intent on being a first-class operation in Formula 1 and not lowering themselves to the “pay-driver” scenario that’s so prevalent in F1 these days. they touted Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean as shining examples of how this team was taking the title battle seriously and paying for the best drivers.

At the time it was a bit of a slap in the face to Williams F1 and other teams who needed paying drivers to prop up their balance sheet but Lotus F1 was different. Come to find out, they’re not different at all. In fact, many are disappointed that the team would fail to secure the Quantum investment group money and reduce themselves to hiring Maldonado for his PDVSA money.

Pastor has been a brash and vociferous person in the paddock. Slating Williams F1 and throwing his Venezuelan oil money around as bait for the best placed team to bite on. Lotus F1 fell for the lure and have now hired a driver who is prone to “incidents” and “altercations”…this just when they’ve gotten Grosjean settled in the car.

I understand team economics but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t jazzed when the team displayed the bravado of not lowering themselves to paying driver strategies, not paying Kimi Raikkonen, not paying some of their employees and now completely subscribing to the paying driver scenario by hiring, arguably, the most marginal of F1 drivers in Maldonado for PDVSA money.

This isn’t the Enstone-based team I knew and that grieves me the most. Makes one wonder if Toto Wolff didn’t have it right all along; this could be a case of a team punching way above their weight class and now they are finally coming back to reality. Here is what the team released:

The Lotus F1 Team announced that Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado [28] will join the Enstone squad alongside Frenchman Romain Grosjean [27] for the 2014 Formula 1 season.

Pastor – a veteran of 58 Grand Prix starts, including pole position and victory at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix – has driven for Williams F1 Team since entering the sport at the start of the 2011 season.

Romain has raced for Lotus F1 Team since the start of the 2012 season, having previously driven for the Enstone outfit in its former guise of Renault F1 Team during the final seven races of the 2009 season, in addition to serving as third driver for the team in 2011.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“It is with great pleasure that we can formally confirm that Romain Grosjean will continue with Lotus F1 Team next season. He has really made the most of his tremendous talent over the latter part of the 2013 season and will be a fantastic asset to our 2014 challenge. Romain will be joined by Pastor Maldonado; a driver I have known since he drove for me at DAMS in the 2005 World Series by Renault season. It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential – demonstrated by his 2010 GP2 Series title success and then through strong races throughout his career at Williams F1 Team – and we are convinced that we will be able to provide the correct environment to enable him to flourish regularly on track. We have been working on our new car in alignment with the new regulations for over two years and we are confident that we have a very good solution to all the challenges ahead. With Romain and Pastor I believe Lotus F1 Team will be able to cause quite a few surprises next year.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team Driver
“I am very happy to have official confirmation that I will be continuing to drive for Lotus F1 Team next season. This past year has been tremendously satisfying for me. We have worked well together, and I know everyone at Enstone is motivated to continue the fight for every last point available. I am very excited about next year’s car and I cannot wait to get out on track for pre-season testing before heading to Australia for the first race of the season.”

Pastor Maldonado, 2014 Lotus F1 Team Driver
“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for 2014. It’s no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula 1 career and Lotus F1 Team offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season. The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start. I can’t wait to be racing in black and gold.”

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