Venezuelan backing to continue after Chavez death say Williams

Valtteri Bottas

Williams receives funding from Venezuela through driver Pastor Maldonado

Williams played down fears that the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez could hurt the British team’s connection to the South American country.

Through 2012 Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado, Oxfordshire based Williams is heavily sponsored by PDVSA, the state-controlled Venezuelan oil company.

The deal has always been closely associated with Chavez, the controversial Venezuelan president who was personally involved in the promotion of Maldonado’s career.

Chavez, 58, died of cancer on Tuesday, and despite winning a sixth presidential term only recently, it is possible his United Socialist party will lose power when new elections are held next month.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport estimates Williams’ annual deal with PDVSA at around EUR 30 million.

But “Williams fans need not worry,” correspondent Tobias Gruner wrote on Wednesday.

He quoted a Williams source as saying: “The (PDVSA) contract is watertight and will continue even after the death of Chavez.”

Meanwhile Williams team released an official statement: “In the wake of yesterday’s announcement that Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, has passed away after a long battle with cancer, the Williams F1 Team sends its deepest condolences to the family of President Chávez and the people of Venezuela.” (GMM)