Pastor Maldonado’s future in Formula 1 is reportedly in doubt due to the delay in a sponsorship payment.
The Venezuelan’s race seat at the Renault-owned Lotus team is contingent on the money that he brings to the table courtesy of sponsorship from state-owned oil company PDVSA.
However, according to the BBC, Maldonado could lose his spot at the team as a result of a $50million payment that is several weeks overdue.
Should the payment not be made in the near future, it is believed that Maldonado will be replaced by former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen, who is regarded as one of the best young drivers not to have a spot on the grid. Debutant Jolyon Palmer has been confirmed as the team’s second driver.
“It’s speculation at the moment. We have a contract with Pastor. That is the current situation,” a Renault spokesman told the BBC.
“Who knows what could happen by Australia but, at the moment, we are going forward with Pastor and Jolyon.”
The delay in the payment is believed to be as a result of the fact that the Venezuelan economy is struggling due to a big drop in the price of oil.
Neither Maldonado nor his agent, Nicolas Todt, have commented on the matter.
It was reported last year that Renault were not keen to retain Maldonado, but that they had little choice in the matter has he had signed a contract prior to their takeover of the team.
The 30-year-old has had an accident-laden time in Formula 1 since making his debut in 2011, resulting in the nickname ‘Crash-tor’. He has one race win to his name, having secured a surprise victory for Williams at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.