But there is no doubt that the final step into an F1 race seat was sweetened by sponsorship from PDVSA to the tune of a reported $45m a year.
"PDVSA and the sponsors I had in the past, and that I still have, believe in my talent," said Maldonado, who is still aware that he has to sing for his supper.
"I was the first racing driver who was racing with the colors of PDVSA, the main oil company of the country.
"In Venezuela we don't like to lose, we always approach to win."
Maldonado was not the first F1 pilot from Venezuela -- that honor went to Italian born Ettore Chimeri in 1959 -- but he became the first Venezuelan to win a grand prix in Spain during the 2012 season.
"You know, F1 after my victory last year became a very popular sport," Maldonado explained. "We have two live TV channels so it's getting bigger and bigger -- which is why I have even more responsibility."
Presidential problem solver
This season has raised Maldonado's stress levels even further. The Williams car has lagged behind its midfield rivals and Maldonado finally won the team's first point of the season in Hungary -- the 10th race of the year.
The portents on the eve of the season had not been good. The team held a celebratory preseason lunch on 5 March but later that evening Venezuelan President Chavez died following a long battle with cancer.
The death of Chavez, a self-styled" 21st Century socialist," left Venezuela in a state of flux and it arguably deprived Maldonado of his biggest supporter.
When asked how much the late president had personally helped his career, Maldonado answered: "A lot.
"It was not only my career it was the career of many racing drivers, Rodolfo Gonzalez (GP2), E.J. Viso, who is in IndyCar; many, many racing drivers."
Maldonado twice appeared on Chavez's chat show Alo Presidente but said he did not speak to the late president on a regular basis, though he added: "He was very close to the drivers."
There have been divisive opinions on Chavez's legacy. Commentators say he did a lot of work to lift people out of poverty in Venezuela but that his autocratic style of governance damaged the nation's democracy and left the country with daunting economic challenges.
But Maldonado says the charismatic Chavez, the man who helped shape his career, is greatly missed.
"We miss him," said Maldonado who grew up in the city of Maracay. "Everyone misses people like that who were important for the country, the position he took, what he did for the poor.
"He connected with the people and at the same time he was listening to the problems they had, analyzing everything with his team, his ministers and directors, they were trying to solve all of the problems of the people."
Being backed by the state has intrinsically linked Maldonado to Venezuela in so many ways.
He is indebted to PDVSA for his position in F1 and in turn he feels he is an ambassador for Venezuela, his compatriots and the legacy of President Chavez.
When countries decide to directly invest in F1's drivers, the responsibility lies heavily on the racer's shoulders.
Does Maldonado expect Sirotkin, the driver Russian investors plan to push into a Sauber seat, to feel the same kind of pressure?
"It depends," Maldonado explains. "I don't know very well the Russian guys. I know the Venezuelan guys - for sure there is a lot of pressure!"
Slums of Venezuela
PDVSA's sponsorship deal with Williams is due to expire in 2015. It is understood that the terms of the agreement stipulate a Venezuelan driver must race for the former world champion constructors, and not necessarily Maldonado.
CNN contacted PDVSA but they declined to comment.