Maldonado joins Grosjean at Lotus for 2014

ENSTONE, England (AP) — Lotus hired Pastor Maldonado on Friday to replace Kimi Raikkonen at the Formula One team for the 2014 season.

The Venezuelan driver leaves Williams after three years and will partner Romain Grosjean, who stays on at the English-based team for a third season. Raikkonen has joined Ferrari for next season. Maldonado won just one point this season for Williams, but thinks Lotus will give him a better chance of fighting higher up on the grid.

"It's no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula One career, and Lotus F1 Team offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season," Maldonado said. "The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start. I can't wait to be racing in black and gold."

Lotus finished fourth in the constructors' championship, helped by Grosjean's four podium finishes in five races before a blowout in the season-ending race in Brazil. "It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential," Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said. "And 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 F1 Team will be able to cause quite a few surprises next year."

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