It may have seen talks with Kimi Raikkonen
break down ahead of the Finn being announced as a surprise signing by the Lotus Renault
team, but Williams
has pressed on with its own plans for 2012.
To that end, the Grove team confirmed that Pastor Maldonado
would return for a second season in F1, while announcing the official promotion of Valtteri Bottas to the role of reserve driver.
Even as recently as last weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, doubt was being cast over the Venezuelan's place in the team, as PDVSA's backing featured in an official court investigation, but Williams
has clearly received the assurances it needed to re-sign the 2010 GP2 Series champion, despite Maldonado suffering the worst single season record ever posted by a Williams
“Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick, but also that he is able to maintain a consistent and strong race pace," team owner Sir Frank Williams
countered, "He has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at Monaco was outstanding.
"Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams
very well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners. He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward.”
'Rebuilding the team' is expected to include adding a new face to replace the ageing Rubens Barrichello, with Force India's Adrian Sutil
the current favourite now that Raikkonen is out of the picture.
"I am delighted to be able to continue with Williams
into my second season and I will give my very best to help the team as we push to return to the front of the grid," Maldonado commented, "This has been a tough season for the whole team, but it has given me the opportunity to learn and develop. I am convinced that the steps we have taken to improve our competitiveness will bear fruit in 2012 and beyond. I am thrilled to be part of that and also to represent the people of Venezuela in F1.”
Bottas, meanwhile, also re-signs with the team after being snapped up as star of the future last season. The Finn had been rumoured as a possible race driver for 2012, but will now fulfil the role of official tester.
He recently joined Williams
at the Abu Dhabi young driver test where he demonstrated mature car control and consistently quick lap times while providing considered and sound technical feedback durign two days of running.