F1

Maldonado's future clouded after death of Hugo Chavez

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Mar.6 (GMM) State-sponsored F1 driver Pastor Maldonado's future appears clouded, following the death of controversial Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Backed by the state-controlled oil company PDVSA, the Williams driver expressed relief late last year when the socialist incumbent was re-elected for a new six year term.

"Long live democracy!" Maldonado, who was a personal friend of the late Chavez, had exclaimed on Twitter.

But in the last years and weeks, 58-year-old Chavez has been battling cancer, and his death has now triggered a presidential election that must be held within 30 days.

"Viva Chavez," Maldonado said on Twitter following Chavez's death on Tuesday.

"I join in the deep pain of all Venezuelans."

Just hours before confirming the death, vice president Nicolas Maduro accused the United States of a plot to kill Chavez.

A US government spokesman in Washington said the claim is "absurd".

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