Motor racing-Williams offer condolences after Chavez death

LONDON, March 6 Wed Mar 6, 2013 6:22pm GMT

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LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - The Williams Formula One team, sponsored heavily by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado as one of their drivers, sent condolences to the country on Wednesday after the death of president Hugo Chavez.

Socialist leader Chavez died of cancer on Tuesday.

Maldonado, who last year became the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One grand prix and is now starting his third season at Williams, has been closely associated with Chavez due to numerous friendly appearances alongside him.

Chavez's death triggered immediate media speculation about the future of the PDVSA sponsorship of the team but such deals are usually multi-year agreements and cannot be terminated at short notice.

The team had no comment on the subject.

Maldonado reacted to the news of the leader's death on Twitter with the revolutionary slogan "Hasta la victoria siempre ("Towards victory forever") and hailing his social legacy to the country. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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