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.”