PDVSA has played down the suggestion that Pastor Maldonado could be about to lose his seat with the Renault F1 team due to late sponsorship payments.

The former race winner was announced with the team, formerly known as Lotus, in September but his place remains largely dependent on the substantial backing he received from his native Venezuela through state-sponsored oil firm PDVSA.

However, delays in payment of this money has reportedly prompted Renault management to meet with PDVSA last week to make clear that it is willing to axe Maldonado if terms aren't met.

Despite this, though a spokesperson for PDVSA confirmed management have met, they insist there are no changes to agreements made originally between itself and Lotus.

"All this is mere speculation about the driver market," a source told Venzuela's El Universal newspaper. "So far we have not had any other notification of what was agreed last year with Lotus. These types of meetings are conducted as in any job to plan activities, so there is nothing strange about that."

PDVSA's reported late payments come on the back of growing unease in Venezuela, which is suffering economic instability in the wake of dwindling oil prices.

Former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen, who is said to be in talks about a reserve driver role, has been linked as a possible replacement should Maldonado be axed.



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