After the bright sunshine of Australian Grand Prix glory has come the rain for Brawn GP, with a sting in the tail at the end of an historic weekend in Melbourne following the news that 270 jobs are to be lost at the Brackley-based outfit.
Brawn GP defied all expectations to not only survive the winter – after parent company Honda put the squad on the market back in December – but then go on to come, see and conquer Down Under with its remarkable, Mercedes-powered BGP 001 in the hands of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, heralding an exciting new dawn for Formula 1 with the most successful debut for a new team in the top flight in more than half a century. That, however, was the good news – and now also has come the bad.
As was hinted on Crash.net
on Saturday [see separate story – click here
], Brawn GP is to make more than a third of its 700-strong workforce redundant in a bid to dramatically reduce expenditure amidst the sport's current cost-cutting drive and new in-season testing ban. It is understood that the employees in question have been informed, and that redundancy letters were sent out in mid-March, a fortnight prior to the beginning of the 2009 F1 campaign.
“It's very unfortunate that we've got to do that but it's the change of technical regulations and obviously we are now a private team,” team CEO Nick Fry told the BBC
. “It's about 270 [job losses].
“We are about 700 people at the moment and we talked to the staff about going down to about 430, something like that, which is where we [predecessor BAR-Honda] were in 2004.”
On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, Brawn GP announced a major sponsorship deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Group, but the team that burned through some £147 million in 2008 – in the guise of Honda F1 – for a meagre return of just 14 points in the constructors' world championship is believed to be seeking a substantial injection of cash this year if it is to keep up the necessary development pace and remain competitive for the duration of the season.
Staff had believed their jobs to be safe after the eleventh hour joint management buy-out between new team owner Ross Brawn and Fry last month, but for some it now transpires the honeymoon is already over.