Pastor Maldonado to stay at Lotus for 2016 season
But no word on Romain Grosjean amid Haas speculation
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 20/09/15 9:22pm
Pastor Maldonado is to stay at Lotus for 2016, the team have confirmed.
However, Lotus' refusal to announce Maldonado's team-mate for next season will only heighten speculation Romain Grosjean is set to join Haas.
Maldonado has endured a torrid campaign, being beaten 12-1 by Grosjean in qualifying, but his retention guarantees substantial sponsorship money for a team which is on the verge of being bought by Renault.
"It's great that the team can confirm my position as race driver for 2016. 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 that my future is confirmed," said Maldonado.
"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 at Enstone and I'm looking forward to building on the work done this year to deliver better results in 2016."
Maldonado currently sits 14th in the Drivers' Championship after scoring 12 points in a season which has featured a multitude of track collisions.
Ferrari, Williams and Sauber have already announced they will field unchanged driver line-ups next season while both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are contracted to Mercedes for two more years. Force India have also confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will stay for 2016 but Sergio Perez appears to be the leading candidate to replace Grosjean if, as expected, the Frenchman departs despite the expectation that Lotus will be bought by Renault.
It's understood that a deal for Renault to repurchase Lotus as their 'works outfit' was effectively sealed on Friday morning - just hours after the team appeared in the High Court to face a winding-up petition over unpaid taxes.
"We've been working with Renault for quite a long time, to try to get them back to Enstone," deputy team boss Federico Gastaldi told Sky Sports. "It's their decision but all the bits and pieces are in place."
Newcomers Haas, who will join the sport as F1's eleventh team in 2016, are yet to confirm the identity of either of their drivers for their first season in F1. The team have said in recent weeks that they expect to announce their first driver by the end of September.