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Venezuela backing Maldonado for F1 race seat
(GMM)  GP2 championship leader Pastor Maldonado claims Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez wants him to debut in formula one.

The well-sponsored 25-year-old has been linked with F1 seats several times, including when he was close to inking a deal with the hopeful Serbian outfit Stefan GP.

"We were nearly ready to sign ... but at the end it didn't get an entry," he told Reuters at Valencia on Friday.

The news agency said Maldonado is backed by the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

"Venezuela is pushing very hard for me, to have me in formula one," he confirmed.  "All my sponsors are from Venezuela so that's a big support.

"He (Chavez) is pushing.  I know that," Maldonado, also a contender for a Campos/HRT seat in 2010, added.

He said president Chavez is also interested in hosting a grand prix, possibly off the northeastern coast of the country on Margarita Island.

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