Pastor Maldonado's backing from Venezuela should remain intact, despite the recent death of president Hugo Chavez.
Maldonado's deal with the team, which gave him his F1 opportunity on the back of him clinching the 2010 GP2 Series title, has always hinged on the strength of the sponsorship provided by state-owned oil company PDVSA and, with Chavez having been a strong personal advocate of Maldonado's career, the president's death also has the potential to derail it, particularly as his United Socialist party could lose power when new elections are held next month.
Despite the speculation, however, Sky Sports
pundit Martin Brundle believes that Maldonado – who won last year's Spanish Grand Prix against expectation – has done enough to deserve continued backing regardless of who comes to power.
"He became a national hero for winning the Spanish GP last year and I think that has been good for Venezuela and good for his sponsors, so why would they want to run away?” the former driver asked, “Obviously, politics may well play a part but I think he has shown he has tremendous speed, [although] the state of play in F1 and global economics means that cheque helps him a lot."
According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, Williams receives around €30m from PDVSA each year, but quotes a source from within the team who claims that the 'contract is watertight and will continue even after the death of Chavez'.
Maldonado was retained by Williams for a third season in 2013, but former team-mate Bruno Senna, who brought backing from Brazil was dropped in favour of less well-funded reserve Valtteri Bottas in the belief that the Finn has greater potential to take the team forward.