President Chavez’s decision to allow PDVSA to enter into a long-term sponsorship deal with Williams is undoubtedly clever, and will return much needed favourable PR from around the world. The majority of analysts commenting on the news are simply clueless about Venezuela’s situation, and interpret this as just any other sponsorship deal, ignoring that PDVSA, unlike BP, Shell, or Exxon, is a state company. Spending Venezuelan public money in F1 should not be celebrated, or encouraged, especially when Venezuela has such appalling levels of poverty, lack of housing, decaying infrastructure, and its government is busy replicating Cuba’s communist model.
Frank Williams is in for a rocky ride, as the notoriously mercurial Venezuelan president, and his utterly inefficient regime, will push him to the limits. This deal will be anything but straightforward, and I sincerely hope Mr. Williams gets his share of headaches because of it, for taking money from an underdeveloped country just to keep his head afloat in F1, is disgustingly unprincipled.
As per Pastor Maldonado, I predict that his F1 career will be anything but successful.
*A discussion about this topic is taking place in BBC’s Comments page (beware of the Chavez fans). More accurate commentary in “Hugo Chavez Now Has An F1 Team” and “Venezuela Invests In Williams Formula 1 Team, Installs “Socialist” Pay Driver” Of special note this comment: “One group able to come up with the money was PDVSA, the Venezuelan owned state oil company, who managed to chip in $14 million dollars, and effectively force Williams to sign Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado is an avowed supporter of President Hugo Chavez, making his signing barely more palatable than the patronage that may have gone on if a Venezuelan minister’s child was given a Formula 1 seat.”