Formula One team Williams has confirmed it will end its major sponsorship deal with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA at the close of the 2013 season following the departure of driver Pastor Maldonado.
The British team on Monday announced that PDVSA-backed Venezuelan driver Maldonado would be replaced by current Ferrari racer Felipe Massa for the 2014 campaign.
The PDVSA deal was signed with Williams and had two years left to run. However, deputy team principal Claire Williams said a severance package has been agreed with the company, which is listed as Williams’ top partner on the team’s website.
“It (the branding) won't be on the car for next year,” she told the Reuters news agency. “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 could now find his sponsorship millions courted by other F1 teams.
Williams said Brazil, with its fast-growing economy, could provide future sponsors for the team. Massa is the country’s sole driver and has been signed to a multi-year contract.
“I think Brazil is one of the sport's biggest markets, so it's really up to us to go out and commercialise Felipe as our driver,” she said. “We've been operating and looking for sponsorship in the Brazilian market for a long time now, we've had great Brazilian partners in the past. So we will be going out to Brazil to see what we can do out there.”