15 January 2011

PDVSA - Williams F1 sponsorship deal: major PR coup for Chavez

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."


Anonymous said...

It's hard to see any reason for accepting Pastor as a rising star in F1 other than the public money from PDVSA. As a canadian I suppose there's a soft spot here for Frank Williams because of "our own" J. Villeneuve, although J.V. was quite successful prior to his entry into F1 and didn't buy his ride there. Colombia's Montoya too, earned his drive with Williams, it wasn't bought, especially with public dollars. It's all distant memories now and seeing Frank sell his soul / disgustingly unprincipled, for money isn't pleasant.

I doubt the international media that follows F1 will focus on what you've brought up here, that the millions of dollars to pay for a drive could have been spent on a long list of other necessities in Venezuela, as the international media following the F1 circus does stay in rather nice hotels. But as a bit of a cynic, at least Frank gets to spend the money actually doing something, while the millions spent on Chavistas are utterly without merit. Buying food from abroad while his countries fields remain fallow, is folly. Food prices are rising, and the food riots have started.

Meanwhile, Chavez will have photos of a car, with PDVSA written on it. What else?
I see Frank as the winner here, and that's not good (for Venezuela) either...

AB said...

Mark, agree on most counts, although I'd hardly call Frank Williams a winner. After all he is going to have to deal with chavismo, and I predict many headaches, missed payments, funds destined to him ending up in some chavista bank account, in fact I am actually glad this deal happened, it will teach Williams a valuable lesson: regardless of financial situation and possibilities of remaining in the sport, F1 people should not accepted anything from criminals, nor enter into deals with them.