Just a day after it was announced that title sponsor ING is to leave both the team and Formula 1 at the end of the forthcoming season, Renault has revealed that 63 of its employees – more than ten per cent of its total workforce – is potentially facing redundancy.
The news is yet another blow to the French outfit's pre-season preparations in 2009, which have already been rocked by ING's bombshell [see separate story – click here
] and the uncompetitive debut of the new R29 – a car that was hoped and expected to drive both the Régie
and lead driver Fernando Alonso back into world championship contention.
Of the 525 employees in Renault's F1 operation, 350 are based at the company's Enstone factory in Oxfordshire, but rather than the current global credit crunch, the car maker insists that it is the dramatic change in the sport's regulations in the name of cost-cutting in 2009 that has precipitated the job loss consultation period, which is due to end at the beginning of next month.
The positions at risk are in the test team and aerodynamics department, with all in-season testing now banned and severe restrictions on aerodynamic innovation on the cars.
“The ING Renault F1 Team, in the process of restructuring, is going through a consultation process which might result in the redundancies of 63 employees,” a statement read. “However this is not a direct consequence of the economic downturn, but rather due to the changes made to the Formula 1 regulations.
“From our workforce of 525, the potential redundancies will affect the test team and aerodynamics department which have been most impacted by the new regulations. At this stage it is premature to enter into more details, and we have no further comments to add.”