Adam Parr has dismissed as 'repulsive and irrelevant' suggestions that Pastor Maldonado has earned his seat at Williams F1 in 2011 more on the basis of the size of his wallet than the breadth of his talent, arguing that the Venezuelan is as good a driver as his predecessors at the team, Nico H?lkenberg and Nico Rosberg.

It was H?lkenberg, indeed, who found himself having to make way for his GP2 Series title-winning successor, with the general consensus being that it was the reputed $15 million in sponsorship Maldonado was able to bring with him that had edged the young German - one of the stars of the season in many observers' eyes, with his wholly-unanticipated pole position at Interlagos a stand-out achievement - out of the door.

Maldonado's appointment alongside Rubens Barrichello - the most experienced driver in the sport's long history - was officially confirmed last month, but new Williams chairman Parr insists the 25-year-old was selected purely based upon his potential and his ability behind the wheel, reasoning that even double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso brings with him significant backing to Ferrari.

"The guy has just won the GP2 championship with a rookie team, taking more victories than anyone else," he told F1 Racing magazine, rubbishing all notions of Maldonado being the latest in a long line of 'pay-drivers' to join the grand prix grid. "He has great talent. The mere fact that we have to talk about this is absurd. It's a shame, really.

"Never have we allowed a driver to sit in our car who we did not think was ready for F1, deserved to be in F1 and was capable of delivering. 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."

That said, Parr clearly retains a soft spot for H?lkenberg - who team co-founder Sir Frank Williams has described as a future world champion in-waiting - and whilst asserting that Maldonado is a long-term investment, the Englishman confessed that he hopes the Grove-based outfit's former driver manages to secure another cockpit for the forthcoming campaign, and hinted that an eventual return cannot be ruled out.

"I would like to see him at Williams again," he acknowledged, palpably holding H?lkenberg in high regard. "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 a position somewhere else, but on the other hand I would like to maintain a relationship with him."

 

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