McLaren’s “difficult” decision to place its Formula 1 staff on furlough was essential to protect the team’s future, according to Andreas Seidl.

Earlier this month, McLaren became the first F1 team to implement a range of cost-saving measures which included furloughing some of its staff, while drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris agreed to take voluntary pay cuts.

Teams are facing increased financial strain due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which has led to the opening nine races of the 2020 F1 season being postponed or cancelled.

“On our side there’s a reason why we made this decision, as I said before it’s not clear yet and it’s simply impossible to know exactly what the financial impact will be of this crisis,” Seidl explained.

“We know that we are not going racing at the moment, we know we will miss income this year and this is why we had to put different measures in place to make sure we are protecting our people, protecting the team to be in a position that once this crisis is over to restart again in the best possible shape, and one of these measures was putting people on furlough.

“[It was] one of the most difficult decisions or things I had to do in my working life - telling our people to be on furlough and also take pay cuts - but we were clear, together with Zak [Brown], that it was a decision we had to make to make sure we protect the team as good as possible.

“For all teams in the pit lane I think it is already a serious problem how we can see it today as we definitely know we will lose income,” he added.

“A major part of financing these Formula 1 teams is coming from the revenues. For us as McLaren we think we are still going and putting all measures in place which we think are necessary to get through this crisis.

“We have pay cuts we put in place, some people into furlough, these are things happening on the salary side, and then I think what is also something which is helping us a lot is the agreement we have with other teams, the FIA to be on shutdown at the moment.

“We are optimistic that all these measures we are putting in place at the moment will help us to survive this crisis.”

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown recently warned that the championship could lose as many as four teams if the coronavirus situation is not handled in the right way. 

Asked about Brown’s comments, Seidl insisted there is “a big risk” that teams could go under.

“It’s not just a fear I think it’s a reality, there is a big risk we could lose teams through this crisis,” he said.

“Again so far we don’t know what the income will be this year, we don’t know when we get back to racing again, of course we all hope we can do as many races as possible.

“This is why we appreciate the leadership here from Jean Todt, it’s important now to make big decisions and make another big step in terms of the level of the budget cap for the future.

“That doesn’t help us for this year, for this year we need other short-term measures like freezing the cars etc to save costs but at least then it gives an outlook to everyone taking part in Formula 1 that the sport will be a lot more sustainable and healthy in the future for the teams to survive this crisis.”

 

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