Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello may have sensationally locked out the front row of the starting grid for this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and Richard Branson's Virgin Group may have come on-board as a significant sponsor, but the honeymoon could already be over elsewhere at Brawn GP – with the revelation that 275 jobs are set to be axed.
The Brackley-based concern has enjoyed a dream start to its reincarnation following the Ross Brawn-led management buy-out of the team that Honda put up for sale back in December. The new, Mercedes-powered BGP 001 seems to be the cream of the current Formula 1 crop and there is a new energy and belief inside the squad.
However, in an era in which the top flight is taking drastic cost-cutting measures, it has emerged that more than a third of the Northants-based outfit's 700-strong workforce are facing the chop – with Honda understood to be picking up the bill for the redundancy pay-outs.
“Everybody has had a letter saying about 275 people will be leaving and it will happen pretty quickly,” an employee who asked not to be named told local newspaper the Banbury Guardian
. “Everybody will be assessed and will go through consultations, but I presume they must have in-mind what areas need looking at and who they want to keep.
“The package they are offering is actually quite good, and people are able to take voluntary redundancy. It's a tough call for some of us, including me, because we don't know where we will be in a year's time. We are not sure what funding is in place beyond the new season.”
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that 154 positions have similarly been shed at David Richards' independent engineering operation Prodrive, following consultations with 184 workers in the wake of Subaru's shock official withdrawal from the World Rally Championship late last year. The Banbury-based company is one of the organisations believed to be in the running for a move into F1 in 2010 [see separate story – click here