Chavez death clouds Maldonado's future

Pastor Maldonado's future looks uncertain following the news that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 58.

Chavez has been a very active supporter of his country's racing drivers, using state-owned funds to finance the careers of drivers such as EJ Viso and Milka Duno, but most notably Maldonado.

Whilst he has shown flashes of speed - winning the Spanish GP last year - there is no doubting his seat at Williams was secured through vast backing from Venezuelan's oil company PDVSA.

It's believed the company pays Williams around £30 million ($45m) per season, and in return receives minimal sponsorship on its investment.

Should the country vote against Chavez's United Socialist Party - a vote which must now take place within a month - that funding may well stop and could cloud not only Maldonado's future, but that of the Williams team too.

On Tuesday, after hearing the news of his friend, Maldonado posted the following on Twitter.

"Long live democracy!" He wrote, adding: "Viva Chavez. I join in the deep pain of all Venezuelans."