Formula One: Williams and Racing Point drivers take pay cuts, teams furlough staff

Williams' British driver George Russell practices at the Silverstone motor racing circuit on July 12, 2019.
Williams' British driver George Russell practices at the Silverstone motor racing circuit on July 12, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Britain-based Williams and Racing Point Formula One teams on Monday (April 6) followed McLaren in temporarily furloughing staff because of the coronavirus crisis, with their drivers taking pay cuts.

Williams, a family-run independent team who rank among the sport's most successful despite recent struggles, said British driver George Russell and Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi will take a 20 per cent salary reduction.

Silverstone-based Racing Point said Canadian driver Lance Stroll, whose billionaire father Lawrence owns the team, and well-sponsored Mexican Sergio Perez would also take voluntary wage cuts.

McLaren furloughed staff across the group last week, with drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also having their pay reduced temporarily for a three-month period.

Williams, former world champions who finished last in 2019, said in a statement that their move was part of a wider range of cost-cutting measures, adding: "The furlough period will last until the end of May while senior management, and our drivers, have taken a pay cut of 20 per cent effective from April 1."

Under the scheme announced by the British government last month, employers can claim for 80 per cent of furloughed employees' monthly wages up to £2,500 (S$4,404).

"These decisions have not been taken lightly," Williams said. "Our aim is to protect the jobs of our staff... and ensuring they can return to full-time work when the situation allows."

Neither Williams nor Racing Point said how many employees were furloughed.

The 2020 F1 season was scheduled to begin in Melbourne last month but is yet to get underway after the pandemic wiped out the Australian and Monaco grands prix. Races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Azerbaijan have also been postponed, with a reduced calendar unlikely to start until the European summer at the earliest.

 
 
 

F1 teams have already agreed to delay until 2022 significant technical rule changes planned for 2021 and use the same cars next year to save money.

McLaren boss Zak Brown warned at the weekend that F1 is in "a very fragile state" and risks losing some of its 10 teams unless some big changes are made.