Formula 1 teams continued to hire more staff in 2018 despite the sport’s owners planning to cap budgets after the next two seasons.
Over the last five years the average F1 team has grown from 450 staff to 620 – an increase of more than a third. It isn’t just the big teams which are hiring: Racing Point intends to hire at least another 100 staff over the next two years, growing to more than 500.
The team was known as Force India until went into administration at mid-season, which prompted fears among senior management that they might lose key staff to their rivals.
However team principal Otmar Szafnauer told the official F1 website last week they “lost nobody” during the period of uncertainty during the summer break.
“Not a single soul,” he said. “It was a big deal and very difficult to do because usually the best people that are known to the other teams will have had offers and they did have offers from the likes of McLaren and Williams and Renault, and some others.”
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Haas remains F1’s smallest team by far as a result of its unique structure. The team has exploited the ‘listed parts’ regulations to the fullest to obtain as much of its car from suppliers as it is able to, allowing it to operate with a far smaller staff – little more than a quarter the size of Mercedes or Ferrari’s chassis operations.
The staffing levels required to run a championship-winning team are considerably higher. Haas’s 250 staff is approximately as many Williams had when it won the 1996 championship. During a previous successful championship campaign in 1987, Williams had just 85 staff.
Today Williams closely matches the levels of spending and staffing targeted by the budget cap plans, yet it finished 2018 last in the championship.
A key sticking point in the ongoing debate around F1’s budget cap is its potential effect on staff levels. Teams are concerned a sudden reduction in their budgets could force them to lay off large numbers of staff.
Liberty Media has revised its original plan for a $150 million cap to come into force in 2021. The initial cap will now be set at $200 million, then fall in $25 million increments to $150 million by 2023. However there’s little indication yet this is having an effect on staffing levels.
*Excluding engine-building operations
How much money did F1’s teams spend in 2018? Read the first part of Dieter Rencken’s analysis in his RacingLines column later today on RaceFans.
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2018 F1 season
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- ‘It doesn’t matter if we start last’: How Red Bull’s junior team aided Honda’s leap forward
- Honda’s jet division helped F1 engineers solve power unit problem
- McLaren Racing losses rise after Honda split
- Ricciardo: Baku “s***show” was Red Bull’s fault