Williams and Racing Point became the latest Formula One teams to furlough staff due to the coronavirus as their drivers also agreed to take pay cuts yesterday.
Formula One’s 2020 season has been delayed because of the pandemic and Williams and Racing Point announced their cost-cutting moves a week after McLaren opted to take the same financial measures.
Canadian Nicholas Latifi and Briton George Russell, along with senior Williams executives, have taken a 20% pay cut from April 1, with the other staff put on an enforced leave until the end of May.
McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris took voluntary pay cuts last week. “Due to the ongoing situation involving Covid-19, ROKiT Williams Racing is temporarily furloughing a number of employees as part of a wider range of cost-cutting measures,” a Williams statement said.
“The furlough period will last until the end of May whilst senior management, and our drivers, have taken a pay cut of 20% effective from 1st April.
“These decisions have not been taken lightly, however our aim is to protect the jobs of our staff at Grove and ensuring they can return to full-time work when the situation allows.”
As well as furloughing some staff, Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, the son of the team’s billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll, will accept a cut in their wages, although the percentage was not specified.
“I can now confirm that some of the team’s staff have been placed on temporary furlough,” a Racing Point spokesperson told AFP. “Our drivers will also take a voluntary pay cut.”
Last month, the UK government said it would pay 80% of salaries for staff who are put on furlough by their employer, covering wages up to 2,500 pounds ($3,077, 2,846 euros) per month in a bid to help companies retain their workforce and prevent redundancies during the health crisis.
But the furlough of non-playing staff by wealthy Premier League football clubs has caused huge controversy.
Liverpool and Tottenham are among the top-flight teams to have been criticised for using the government’s money to pay staff when they have owners worth millions and players on huge contracts.
F1 team bosses and the sport’s management were set to meet yesterday to discuss ways to protect the sport as it suffers a loss of income.
Teams are reportedly discussing a reduction of the budget cap, which was already due to come in force in 2021 at $175mn.
McLaren boss Brown warns F1 must change to survive
Formula One is in “a very fragile state” due to the new coronavirus crisis and risks losing some of its 10 teams unless some big changes are made, McLaren boss Zak Brown warned on Sunday.
The season has yet to start, with two races — including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May — cancelled and six postponed so far.
The sport has already made some changes, including postponing a planned major technical rule change from 2021 to 2022 and agreeing teams will use the same cars next year but Brown said more was needed.
“Could I see — through what is going on right now in the world if we don’t tackle this situation head on very aggressively — two teams disappearing? Yeah,” the American told the BBC.
“In fact, I could see four teams disappearing if this isn’t handled the right way.”
Brown said the economic and health situation meant it should not be assumed anyone would be lining up to take over any struggling teams.
“I don’t think the timing could be worse from that standpoint,” he added. “So I think F1 is in a very fragile state at the moment.”
McLaren last week became the first team to put staff on furlough while ratings agency Moody’s changed Formula One’s outlook to negative from positive.
Team bosses are due to discuss cost-saving plans on a call on Monday.
A $150mn budget cap, still well above the spending levels of some smaller teams, is due to come into force next year but Brown indicated there was a push for it to be reduced further — possibly to $100mn.
“You have everyone at $150mn, and the strong majority — including one of the big teams — willing to come substantially under $150mn,” he said.
There is also some discussion about a further postponement of the technical rule changes to 2023. Reuters
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