New Williams signing Pastor Maldonado has participated in Formula 1’s first visit to his native Venezuela, as he took a 2010 Williams FW32 on a series of demonstration runs in the nation’s capital Caracas in front of an estimated crowd of 20,000 spectators.
The team also used the opportunity to confirm that the nation’s state-owned petroleum company and one of Maldonado’s principal backers, PDVSA, would officially sponsor the team on a long-term basis.
The afternoon’s demonstration run was set in front of the historic Paseo de los Próceres monument and in front of Maldonado’s biggest supporter, the country’s president Hugo Chavez.
Maldonado completed a series of laps on a makeshift circuit – hitting speeds of over 200km/h – and concluded his run with a series of tyre-smoking doughnuts.
“It was unbelievable to share this experience with my countrymen. The amount of people that turned out to watch was just amazing,” Maldonado said after the event.
Speaking about the PDVSA sponsorship deal, team owner Sir Frank Williams said: “We are very grateful to PDVSA for having joined our team. They are a substantial partner and can make a meaningful difference to our fighting ability.”
It is believed that the Venezuelan government has stumped up some $15 million to bankroll Maldonado’s appointment to the Williams team.