LONDON (Reuters) – Renault have furloughed most of their British-based Formula One race team until the end of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with management also taking a pay cut, the French carmaker announced on Friday.
Renault said the engine factory at Viry-Chatillon in France had moved to a part-time schedule from April 6 for a provisional 12 weeks.
“Renault Sport Racing has decided to retrospectively apply for the Job Retention Scheme set up by the British government,” it said in a statement.
“The vast majority of Enstone staff will effectively have a total shutdown (furlough) until May 31st. This will be reviewed dependent on the development of the situation.”
Renault, whose F1 drivers are Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Esteban Ocon, said it would top up the amount allocated by the government to guarantee a minimum of 80% of actual salary for all team members.
“Salaries of active staff, including management, will be reduced in the same proportions,” it added.
Three other British-based teams — McLaren, Williams and Racing Point — have already announced they are furloughing staff with drivers also taking pay cuts.
Renault are the first manufacturer-owned team to do so, however.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul said it was hard to measure the eventual impact of the crisis on the sport, with France and England in lockdown along with most Grand Prix organising countries.
“We therefore must use all the measures at our disposal to get through this prolonged period of uncertainty and inactivity as best as we can, while protecting the whole team we have built over the past four years,” he said.
The carmaker cancelled its dividend on Thursday and said its chairman and interim chief executive officer had agreed to pay cuts, to help finance a solidarity fund for staff affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge