Pastor Maldonado has confirmed rampant speculation that he has lost his race seat in formula one. Before the Renault buyout, Lotus re-signed the controversial 30-year-old for 2016 but there have been reported problems between the Enstone team's new owner and his backer PDVSA, the struggling Venezuelan state-owned oil company.
"Today I most humbly inform you that I will not be on the starting grid for the 2016 F1 season," Maldonado wrote in a Spanish-language statement linked to his Twitter account. "Thanks for all your messages of support, passion and concern for my future. See you soon," he added.
The news paves the road for the confirmation on Wednesday of the arrival at Renault of Kevin Magnussen. Jacob Hammerholt, a sports reporter for the Danish broadcaster TV2, said the impending announcement in Paris will be welcomed by the enthusiastic country.
"Kevin and Renault is a really good match," he said. "When he came to McLaren, it was a great team that expected a lot and put a lot of pressure on a young driver. But Renault enters formula one as a works team after a break, so they know they will have to get the ball rolling before it becomes really great," added Hammerholt.
There are also rumours that French youngster Esteban Ocon, the reigning GP3 champion, could be loaned by Mercedes to Renault to be reserve driver in 2016. And Italy's Omnicorse reports that Pascal Wehrlein, the new Mercedes-backed champion of DTM, looks set to secure a race seat at Manor this year, probably to be paired with fellow rookie Rio Haryanto. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing