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F1: Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean pair up for Lotus in 2014

updated 12:08 PM EST, Fri November 29, 2013
Venezuelan racer Pastor Maldonado has joined the Lotus Formula One team for the 2014 season after three years at Williams. Venezuelan racer Pastor Maldonado has joined the Lotus Formula One team for the 2014 season after three years at Williams.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean will race for the Lotus Formula One team in 2014
  • Maldonado joins from Williams to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who is returning to Ferrari
  • French driver Grosjean keeps his seat at UK-based team for third straight year
  • Maldonado is expected to bring financial support from native Venezuela

(CNN) -- Another place on Formula One's motorized merry-go-round has been filled for the 2014 season.

Pastor Maldonado has been named as Frenchman Romain Grosjean's teammate at the Lotus F1 team after leaving Williams.

Maldonado, whose deal with Williams had been funded by the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, has filled the Lotus seat vacated by 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who is returning to Ferrari.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 team for 2014," Maldonado said in a statement.

"It's no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula 1 career and Lotus offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season.

"The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start."

The Venezuelan made his F1 debut in 2011 with Williams and the following season he clinched a shock win for the former world champion team at the Spanish Grand Prix -- the first by an F1 driver from his country.

Read: The racer Hugo Chavez banked oil money on

Maldonado's brief reign in Spain was the high point of his relationship with Williams, a partnership that showed signs of stress towards the end of the last campaign.

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At the penultimate United States Grand Prix, the 28-year-old said: "Leaving is an important moment for my career."

Before signing for Lotus, Maldonado was among of group of F1 protagonists without a drive at the end of the 2013 season, which reached its climax in Brazil last weekend.

Force India duo Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, McLaren's Sergio Perez, Sauber pair Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, Marussia's British driver Max Chilton and Caterham pairing Charles Pic and Giedo Van Der Garde are yet to settle their futures.

Many drivers are now expected to fund their own drives in F1, a problem that has been exacerbated ahead of the new season.

A major rule change looms large in 2014 and that means the 11 teams are having their resources stretched, with the new turbo engines alone estimated to be three times more expensive than the ones being phased out.

Grosjean has managed to avoid the fray of the driver market by securing a third straight season with Lotus.

After an erratic 2012 season, which included a one-race ban for dangerous driving, the 27-year-old showed consistent improvement in 2013, racing to six podiums.

His performances were enough to see Lotus take up the option to extend his contract.

"I am very happy to have official confirmation that I will be continuing to drive for Lotus next season," said Grosjean, who, like Maldonado, became a father for the first time in 2013.

"This past year has been tremendously satisfying for me. I know everyone is motivated to continue the fight for every last point available."

Although Lotus won the opening race of 2013 in Australia, the final part of the season was overshadowed by speculation over the team's finances.

Lead driver Raikkonen, who opted to have back surgery rather than race in the final two grands prix of the year, was reported to be owed $20 million in wages.

The arrival of Maldonado is likely to help boost the team's coffers as he is expected to once again bring financial support to his new team.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier added: "It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential. We are convinced that we will be able to provide the correct environment to enable him to flourish regularly on track.

"With Romain and Pastor I believe Lotus will be able to cause quite a few surprises next year."

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