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Maldonado feeling the pressure
Pastor Maldonado says he is feeling the pressure of carrying Venezuela's hopes in Formula One after a difficult season with Williams so far.
Maldonado is backed by the state-owned oil company PDVSA, bringing roughly £30 million a year to the team's budget. In 2012 he won his first F1 race at the Spanish Grand Prix but this year Williams has struggled and scored just one point, leading Maldonado to admit he is feeling the pressure of a nation behind him.
"It's a huge responsibility that I have," he told CNN. "I have a complete country pushing in my back so every day we do not do very well, I have some pressure."
But despite the lack of results this year, Maldonado stressed that PDVSA is standing by him.
"PDVSA and the sponsors I had in the past, and that I still have, believe in my talent," he added. "I was the first racing driver who was racing with the colours of PDVSA, the main oil company of the country. In Venezuela we don't like to lose, we always approach to win."
The decision to pump PDVSA money into Maldonado's career was initiated under President Hugo Chavez, who died in March this year. There have been rumours that the deal will not be renewed now Chavez is gone, but the Williams driver says such projects are important for uniting the nation.
"You know, F1 after my victory last year became a very popular sport," he said. "We have two live TV channels so it's getting bigger and bigger - which is why I have even more responsibility."
Maldonado added that he misses Chavez.
"We miss him. Everyone misses people like that who were important for the country, the position he took, what he did for the poor.
"He connected with the people and at the same time he was listening to the problems they had, analysing everything with his team, his ministers and directors, they were trying to solve all of the problems of the people."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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