LONDON (Reuters) - The British-based Williams and Racing Point Formula One teams on Monday followed McLaren in temporarily furloughing staff as a result of the new 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% 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 their move was “part of a wider range of cost-cutting measures.
“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 April 1.”
Under the scheme announced last month, employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to 2,500 pounds ($3,068) per month.
“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 Formula One 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 schedule of races unlikely to start until the European summer at the earliest.
Formula One 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 Formula One is in “a very fragile state” and risks losing some of its 10 teams unless some big changes are made.
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Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris