Pastor Maldonado leaves Renault and won't be on F1 2016 grid
South American set to be replaced by Kevin Magnussen
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 04/02/16 11:36am
Pastor Maldonado has confirmed he will not be in Formula 1 for the 2016 season.
The South American was scheduled to drive for the rebadged Renault team in the upcoming campaign but has lost his seat after his sponsors fell behind on payments.
Maldonado's principal backers, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, are believed to have paid around £20m annually for the 30-year-old's seat. However, the country's economy has collapsed in recent weeks amid falling oil prices.
"Today with the utmost humility I inform you that I will not be present at the starting grid for the 2016 F1 season," Maldonado confirmed in a message to his Twitter followers.
"Thanks for all your messages of support, passion and concern for my future. I feel very honoured with the support of all of you and proud of my professional performance."
Renault, who announced that Maldonado would be staying on for 2016 four months ago, are yet to comment. But the team will hold a media launch event on Wednesday in Paris in which they are expected to confirm that Kevin Magussen, who left McLaren in December, will partner rookie Jolyon Palmer for the new season.
Backmarkers Manor are the only other team yet to confirm the identity of their 2016 driver line-up.
However, Maldonado has ruled himself out of filling a vacancy at the backmarkers, bringing down the curtain on a five-year F1 career which has been defined by controversy and collisions. Prior to leaving the Williams team for Lotus two years ago, he accused the Grove outfit of sabotaging his car ahead of the 2013 US GP and, unable to shrug off the tag of being a 'pay driver', a website was launched to keep a timetable of his many crashes.
"Whatever you think of rights or wrongs of his time in F1, Pastor was a race winner and a nice guy," commented Sky F1's David Croft.
Despite winning the 2012 Spanish GP and displaying impressive flashes of speed, Maldonado struggled alongside Romain Grosjean following his transfer to Lotus. In 2015, he only out-qualified Grosjean twice - the worst such tally of any driver on the grid - and scored half as many points as the Frenchman.
Renault's launch ceremony will be streamed live on Sky Sports' Digital platforms on Wednesday with the team set to unveil their new car and livery as well as Maldonado's replacement.
Who's where in 2016
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen
Williams: Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez
Lotus/Renault: Jolyon Palmer and TBC
Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz
Sauber: Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson
McLaren: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
Haas: Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez
Every race live in 2016
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