Maldonado's F1 seat was secured with a huge check, but for 2015 the payment increases to $63 million.
Formula 1 is famous for its paying drivers, those who bring sponsors' money to the team, and those who earn a seat for a season or even just a few races. But it looks like that no one has paid more than PDVSA, the national oil company of Venezuela, who signed a $46 million check to the benefit of the Williams GP team in return for a seat for Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan F1 driver, for the 2012 F1 season. The check was due to be paid on October 31, 2011.
Details of the check came to light due to allegations coming from President Hugo Chavez's opponents, who demanded the contract be made public. A photo copy of the invoice Williams issued to PDSVA confirms the amount (if it is not a fake one). According to various leaks, the contract runs until the end of the 2015 season with a payment increase by 2015, when PDVSA will pay Williams GP $63 million a season. Maldonado's rookie season in F1 with Williams last year wasn't a brilliant one, as he finished in the top 10 only once, scoring 1 point for the season, and never made it to Q3 in qualifying.
Last season was Williams' worst season ever as the team collected only 5 points and finished a distant 9th in the Constructors' World Championship. By the end of the season the team lost its major sponsor AT&T and still hasn't revealed a new title sponsor. During the season most of the senior technical staff parted company with the team and new staff was recruited to design Williams' 2012 car. The team also broke its engines supply contract with Cosworth in favor of a new contract with Renault. However for next year the team's drivers lineup is not a promising one and lacks in both depth and experience.
Veteran driver Rubens Barrichello left the team as his compatriot Bruno Senna was drafted in, bringing with him lucrative sponsorship money (though probably not in the Maldonado's bracket). Since last year, Williams GP is a public company and when the team releases its financial results, paying drivers money should have a large share in the revenues column.