18 November 2010

Hugo Chavez pays his way into F1 paddock thru PDVSA

THE question went like this: "You are supported by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and also the Venezuelan state government. How did that happen?" The question was posed by a journalist of the official Formula 1 website to aspiring F1 driver Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, who's been testing for Hispania Racing Team and Williams in the last few days in Abu Dhabi.

Maldonado, who won the GP2 title this year, has been mentioned as a possible replacement of Nico Hulkenberg, at Frank Williams F1 team. It has also been mentioned, in other reports, that Maldonado's entry to F1 is believed to be worth as much as $15 million to the Williams team.

Now, don't get me wrong on this one. Being a petrol head, I would love to see a fellow Venezuelan competing in the highest category of motor sports, and bring back the good old memories from the 80ies, when Venezuelan drivers were regulars at the top categories. Personally, I hold nothing against Pastor Maldonado.

What I find objectionable, is that Hugo Chavez's oil firm, PDVSA, is spending $15 million of Venezuelan taxpayer money in this adventure. Mind you, we've been told by Chavez, over and over, that capitalism needs to be destroyed, that Venezuelan oligarchs are the scum of the earth, that PDVSA is now wholly devoted to social aims and to alleviate the suffering of the disenfranchised, etc., etc., and YET, he is paying his way into the world's most exclusive, expensive, bourgeois, elitist, and capitalist sport, read Formula 1. If there's one anti thesis of whatever Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution represents, that is Formula 1. Can someone please explain this one to me?

As per the $15 million that Maldonado will bring to the Williams team, Mr. Williams should ponder about the consequences to his hard earned reputation should he accept money from Chavez.


Roberto N said...

Well Alek, you know the old saw.

Money talks and Bullshit walks.

I don't think Williams F1 is going to lose any sleep over where the 15 million comes from.

They have had major sponsorship leave, and 15 mil. would fit them like a glove.

F1 is a business like any other. And while we would like to see ethics at all levels of business, there will be times when a businessman makes choices that are not pristine.

An even better question would be to pose it to Maldonado. Why does he accept PDVSA sponsorship knowing that it represents an authoritarian regime bent on enslaving his countrymen?

AB said...

Roberto, you are of course absolutely right about F1 being a business like any other. However, I do think there's a case to be made in this instance considering the source of the funds. Mind you, Russian money, of who knows what source, is funding Vitaly Petrov F1 career. Putin is toying with the idea of having a F1 race in Russia, was recently filmed driving the Renault F1 car... But Chavez?

As per posing questions to Maldonado, I don't think he's in a position to question perhaps the only large sponsor he's got. Had it not been for PDVSA the guy probably would never have made it to F1.

Roberto N said...

Indeed, he might not have gotten anywhere without PDVSA.

AS for Petrov, I was struck by a comment he made after the Abu Dabi finale.

He was asked about not letting Alonso by, and he replied "But maybe I should have asked on my team radio, please ask Vettel how much he wants to pay me to help, and then we go to Ferrari and ask them the same too. Then whoever gives the most, we see!"

I took it as a joke, but considering the man who said it is Russian, I will admit a certain tinge colored my reaction to that statement.

Back to Hugo and F1. I agree completely with you, WTF do we need to be in F1 for at such a price tag?

It looks inevitable, so I hope Maldonado shines.