Thousands of British workers employed by Formula One racing teams are at risk of losing their jobs because of swingeing cost cuts, according to Max Mosley, the president of the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).
Cosworth, the Northamptonshire-based engine manufacturer, was the first to confirm job cuts, with the news on Thursday that up to 40 per cent of its UK staff would be made redundant at the end of the year. The company provides motors for the Williams and Red Bull Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 teams and employs more than 300 people.
Seven of the 11 teams that compete in Formula One are based in the UK and they each employ between 500 and 1,000 staff, working across chassis and engine development.
However, planned cost-saving initiatives expected to come into effect next year will freeze F1 engine specification until at least 2009, with standardised parts being introduced in 2008.
"There are bound to be redundancies," Mr Mosley said. "If you employ 1,000 people to put two cars on the grid 19 times a year, and you can do the same thing with 200 people, at the same level... well then, those 800 people, they haven't got a job."
Employment costs are the biggest single expense of any F1 team, representing around 30 per cent of turnover - a typical team has an income of $300m-$400m (£160m-£213m). The FIA's cost cuts will slash these employment expenses.
"The target is to set the budget for a top team, which is currently spending €300m (£205m), to €100m, and then a small team could be competitive with €40m or €50m," Mr Mosley said.
Although the changes are expected to lead to a number of redundancies, many believe that they will ultimately be good news for F1, by upping competitiveness and increasing the number of teams able to compete. The Banbury, Oxfordshire-based Prodrive team announced earlier this year that it would join F1 in 2008 as a direct result of the FIA's cost-cutting programme.Reuse content