Williams boss Adam Parr has hit out at claims Pastor Maldonado is little more than a “pay driver”.
Despite German rookie Nico Hulkenberg’s solid rookie season with the British team, including pole position in Brazil, he has been replaced for 2011 by the heavily-backed Venezuelan Maldonado.
But although Hulkenberg dominated Maldonado when they were teammates in GP2, the 25-year-old won the feeder series this year.
In an article on the Spanish language motor21.com website, Williams chairman 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 F1, deserved to be in F1 and was capable of delivering,” the Briton insisted.
“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,” said Parr.
He insists 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,” he said. “If you have a young talented driver, it is a promise for the future, and if he also has sponsors, all the better,” he said.
“Money is irrelevant,” said Parr. “Fernando Alonso’s sponsor (Santander) is the biggest in F1.”
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.
But Parr said: “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.”
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