Pastor Maldonado has admitted he cannot be certain his F1 career will continue long after the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Sponsoring Williams via the state-controlled PDVSA oil company, Chavez died of cancer last week and Maldonado rushed back to his native country before Australia for his funeral.
Asked if the death will affect his career, Maldonado admitted in Melbourne: “Politically, I don’t know.
“I think many of you in the media have said everything is gone for me, but here I am. We’ll see.”
The 28-year-old backed Chavez’s controversial approach to ploughing state money into sports, Maldonado noting that, previously, “people only knew Venezuela for the oil and the girls”.
“I think it changed a lot with Chavez and now it can be worse. We’ve started and now we need to carry on.”
Meanwhile, technical boss Mike Coughlan is leading the Williams team in Melbourne, with team boss Frank Williams and his daughter Claire back in the UK in the wake of the death of wife and mother Ginny.
“We obviously have to move on, but I hope we do well this weekend in Ginny’s memory,” said Coughlan.