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The culling begins

NEWS STORY
17/03/2009

Despite the excitement of the season opener being just a few days away, there is an air of sadness at Jerez this week, just as there was at Barcelona last week.

With no more testing until the end of the year, many test team members are turning out for their teams for the last time, knowing that as the 'circus' hits Melbourne they'll be out of a job.

The new rules on testing, not to say drastic cost cuts, mean that all teams are looking to downsize, the euphemistic term for laying people off.

Some teams have already begun, with Renault thought to have laid off as many as 90 workers, amongst them Test Team Manager Carlos Nunes who had been with the company for 16 years. One other team has been letting 19 people go each month rather than attracting attention with a mass cull. 19 being the amount they don't have to declare to the government.

While the FIA and FOTA slap one another on the back and congratulate themselves on their efforts to cut costs, hundreds of workers are now seeing the less glamorous side of F1 as they focus on their mortgages, their family's futures, as opposed to set-ups and development.

This morning we hear that there have already been some redundancies at Brackley with the focus on "salary rather than inability the criteria for selection", there are sure to be many more.

Despite the joy of seeing their boy post the fastest lap time yesterday, there was much sadness in the Renault garage where many of the test team members, knowing that this was probably the last chance of meeting their hero, their two-time champion, posed for pictures with the Spaniard (above). The mood was similarly downbeat at Williams.

With a major question mark over reliability this season, not to mention the costs involved in developing KERS, a questionable device that remains optional, one has to wonder whether teams have been a little too hasty in scrapping in-season testing far less disbanding their test teams... just ask McLaren.

While the rest of us pore over the race reports in two weeks time, a lot of people who have given their lives to the sport will be perusing the jobs vacant pages in the newspapers, their contribution to the sport barely recognised. Meanwhile, despite the protestations, the teams will continue to spend money, it's what they do.

  • To check out our Jerez gallery, click here
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