The economic downfall in Venezuela is now also hitting Formula One racing.
Pastor Maldonado, the only Venezuelan driver in the sport, announced earlier this week that he would not be racing this year because his main sponsor, the state-owned oil company PDVSA, fell behind on payments to the Renault team.
“Today with the utmost humility I inform you that I will not be present at the starting grid for the 2016 F1 season,” Maldonado confirmed in a message to his Twitter followers on Monday. “Thanks for all your messages of support, passion and concern for my future. I feel very honored with the support of all of you and proud of my professional performance.”
— Pastor Maldonado (@Pastormaldo) February 1, 2016
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His announcement followed several weeks swirling with rumors about his future in Formula One.
Maldonado started his career in F1 five years ago with Williams, winning the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012. Two years later he moved to Lotus, which was acquired by Renault in 2015. His career has unfortunately been defined by much controversy and collisions.
"Whatever you think of rights or wrongs of his time in F1, Pastor was a race winner and a nice guy," said Sky F1's David Croft to Skysports.
In his Twitter statement, Maldonado said: “I affirm my sense of gratitude to God, my family, my sponsors, my friends, my fans and all those who have helped realize this dream of being able to represent Venezuela in the pinnacle of motorsport. See you soon!”
On Wednesday, Renault announced that former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen would replace Maldonado. He will partner with Britain’s Jolyon Palmer and GP3 champion Esteban Ocon was named test and reserve driver.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.