LONDON • McLaren became the first Formula One team to put their staff on unpaid leave because of the coronavirus pandemic, with drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz joining senior management in taking a pay cut.
The British sports car maker said in a statement on Wednesday that the temporary three-month wage reduction was part of wider cost-cutting measures due to the impact Covid-19 was having on its business.
"These measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers," it added.
A team spokesman emphasised that the 100 to 150 staff from across the group who were working on a Ventilator Challenge UK project - an initiative to produce ventilators for the country's healthcare sector - were not included in the measure.
The McLaren Group, including its luxury car maker and applied technology arm, employs around 3,700 people.
The majority of its 850-strong F1 team, who are currently on a three-week factory shutdown brought forward from August due to the season being on hold, will be furloughed from next week, with employees from the rest of the group making up some of the difference.
Those not furloughed, including McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown, will work on reduced pay. A team spokesman revealed Norris and Sainz were adamant they too wanted to sacrifice for the greater good.
With racing unlikely to start until the summer at the earliest - the June 14 Canadian Grand Prix has been pencilled in as the season opener - F1 sources have said the teams are discussing extending the shutdown.
Many derive much of their budget from the sport's revenue, prize money and sponsorship and as a result, are hurting with the first eight grands prix either cancelled or postponed.
They have already agreed to defer major rule changes from next year to 2022 to reduce costs, with teams racing with the same cars next year.
McLaren employees in its F1 division. The majority of them will be put on furlough by the team.
The Canadian, French, Austrian and British races are doubtful, but Silverstone chiefs have confirmed that they will wait until the end of this month before making a firm decision on whether the July 17-19 event can proceed.