Maldonado claims he nearly joined Ferrari in 2014

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Pastor Maldonado said he was once as in demand as Max Verstappen is right now and was on the verge on joining Ferrari in 2014, only for the deal to fall through.

Venezuelan driver Maldonado claimed a shock victory in 2012 at the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams, during his second season in F1. However his career is perhaps remembered better for the long string of crashes he was involved in during spells with Williams and Lotus, who he ended his F1 career with in 2015.

Maldonado, whose career was funded by state-backed Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, says he nearly joined F1's most famous team ahead of the 2014 season when it was searching for a replacement for Felipe Massa. In the end it chose Kimi Raikkonen to partner Fernando Alonso, but Maldonado believes history could have been very different.

"I was the only one, I was the new guy in F1," Maldonado said in an interview with F1's Beyond The Grid podcast. "It's like Verstappen at the moment. Like Robert Kubica at his time. I was the guy at the time. People were coming to me, they were happy to talk to me, and they were happy to discuss me.

"What was not clear was the relationship with the sponsors of course. It was a lot of conflict of interest against the sponsors and we were negotiating about that. My sponsors were open to maybe not to be on the car or be with another company, they were open to find a solution to my career.

"At some point we got very close to Ferrari. I was expecting the move at the time.

"That was my time. It was the moment to have a second chance, not to fight to try to show [my ability] every day, because it was impossible."

Having apparently missed out on the drive in 2014, Maldonado says any further chance of joining Ferrari was scuppered when former president Luca di Montezemolo and team boss Stefano Domenicali left the team during that difficult season.

"We lost the contacts and the communication and we focused on [elsewhere]," he said. "I've never been to Maranello but we had a few meetings at the track. I met Domenicali a few times and I met also di Montezemolo."