Williams F1 Team has made an unprecedented move to show its support for the Venezuelan nation after its president, Hugo Rafael Chávez died from cancer at the age of 58.
Chávez was a revolutionary figure in Latin America, who inspired both controversy and fanatical support, but the ripples from his passing may turn into a quake for Grove-based Williams F1, whose driver Pastor Maldonado is controversially sponsored by the state-owned oil company PDVSA.
For a country so racked with poverty, there’s been plenty who criticise the £27+million used to support Maldonado’s F1 career. The belief is that the money would be better spent on Venezuela’s infrastructure and supporting the education of its children, rather than supporting the endeavours of one driver in a rich man’s sport.
Last night Maldonado tried to counter these criticisms on Twitter by saying: “I join in this deep pain we are going through all Venezuelans, my condolences to the family Chavez and Venezuela.”
He went on to say “Today there has been only one president, today there was a great man whose ideals transcended beyond, 1 soldier, 1 fighter, 1 hero!”
Followed by another tweet with a rousing political sentiment, “I ask everyone what Venezuelans UNION, follow the example and fight for our future infinitely. Long live our Chavez Commander X always.”
Clearly Maldonado recognises that the resulting political instability could put a swift end to his time in Formula One. A notion shared by his team, who moments ago released the following statement:
“6th March 2013. Grove, UK. 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.”