Williams end tie-up with major sponsor PDVSA

Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:18pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

GROVE, England (Reuters) - Williams will end their tie-up with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA at the close of the Formula One season after Pastor Maldonado's departure from the team, deputy principal Claire Williams said on Monday.

"It (the branding) won't be on the car for next year," she told Reuters at the presentation of Brazilian Felipe Massa, currently with Ferrari, as Maldonado's replacement on a multi-year deal.

"There is no (further) connection with PDVSA as obviously Pastor is now leaving the team."

Maldonado has been backed by the oil giant throughout his career and his sponsorship millions have been eagerly sought by other teams. Williams said the driver had taken the decision to look elsewhere.

"We wish him well in that new challenge and we have to see where he ends up next year, but the Williams team won't have a connection to Venezuela next year," she said.

Maldonado has been linked to Lotus, who have been waiting for months to secure promised new investment from a consortium whose money has been slow in coming through, as well as cash-strapped Sauber and Force India.

The PDVSA sponsorship deal was with Williams, rather than a specific driver, and still had another two years to run.

The Venezuelan money made up a significant part of the Williams budget but sources indicated the team will be sheltered from any immediate impact by highly favorable severance terms.   Continued...

Williams Formula One acting team principal Claire Williams speaks to an unidentified man (L) during the second practice session of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit, April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon