Daniel Ricciardo has agreed to slash his Renault wages to help the Enstone team survive the financial crisis.
The Formula 1 teams are on the ropes with the 2020 season yet to get underway and the start being pushed back on an almost weekly basis.
To date nine grands prix have been either cancelled or postponed with France expected to become number 10 in the coming days after the country announced an extension on the ban on mass gatherings.
The teams are losing millions with every race that is not run with Franz Tost saying it is between 1.5 and 2 million.
As such Renault has taken up the UK government’s initiative to furlough staff, placing most of those working at its Enstone factory on extended leave.
Ricciardo has also agreed to do his bit, taking a pay cut to help Renault survive.
“It’s a discussion we’ve already had,” FoxSport quotes Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul as having told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“Daniel has already confirmed he is willing… I can confirm to you that he will reduce it.”
Although the 30-year-old earns a reported $40 million per season, Abiteboul denied that his wages pose an ‘image problem’ in the midst of today’s crisis.
“The problem would have been if he had not accepted the idea,” said the Frenchman.
“We still have to fix the terms but, in principle, I can reassure the Renault group management committee; I do not fear it will destabilise the F1 program.”
Formula 1’s hiatus is not only impacting this season but also next year with Renault yet to decide whether to offer Ricciardo a new contract.
The Aussie’s two-season deal is up at the end of this year.
Ricciardo has been linked to a move to Ferrari with Renault open to signing Sebastian Vettel as his replacement if none of its junior drivers make the cut.
While Abiteboul would like to see how Ricciardo does in the opening few races of the 2020 season, he concedes he will have to start speaking to the driver before then.
“In a normal season, we would have started work on the matter,” said Abiteboul.
“We would have evaluated Daniel’s performance over the first four races and started or not the first discussions.
“We haven’t turned a wheel. We are blind but have to plan.
“We may have to take decisions without the season starting.”
Asked whether he would be in the lurch if Ricciardo left, the MD replied: “It would be if I had not seen it coming or anticipated it. That’s why we are having discussions and have a driver academy.”