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Little to cheer as Brawn GP set to fire 270 staff

BRAWN GP will cut 270 of its 700 workers, the team announced shortly after winning Formula One's Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Jenson Button led a Brawn GP 1-2 ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello for the team formed from the remnants of Honda, which pulled out of the sport in December amid declining auto sales, the global economic downturn and a reported budget of US$300 million.

"It's about 270 (job losses)," team principal Nick Fry was quoted as saying in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. "We are about 700 people at the moment and we talked to the staff about going down to about 430, something like that, which is where we (predecessors BAR) were in 2004."

Fry said that affected staff at the Brackley factory in England had been informed by letters sent "about a week ago" as the team works on a reduced budget. "It's very unfortunate that we've got to do that but its the change of technical regulations and obviously we are now a private team," Fry said.

Brawn GP became the first team since 1977 to win its maiden race and the first team in 55 years to finish 1-2 on its debut.

Meanwhile, Button said that Brawn GP still has plenty of room for improvement.

"I'm looking forward to getting back in the car and building this car into something even more special because we're not there yet," the Briton said. "It's not perfect and we didn't get the best out of it this weekend."

While rivals said the Mercedes-powered Brawn was in a league of its own at Albert Park, Button said the lack of pre-season testing was evident and the pit stops were also not as slick as they should have been.

"It's been very difficult for everyone to be perfect but there's room for improvement and that's what I'm looking forward to achieving," Button said.

The next race is in Malaysia on Sunday at the sweltering Sepang circuit where Button took his first podium finish with BAR in 2004 and which he lists as one of his favorites. This time he will be returning as championship leader after two years of hard labor among the backmarkers with under-performing Honda.

"It's weird, it's surreal in a way because it feels so normal," he said of only the second win of his Formula One career. "And it always does, that's the thing. After winning in Hungary (in 2006) it felt normal. This is what I am here to do."

The championship, with 16 races still to come, remained a distant dream. "I'm not interested in talking about it at the moment," he said.


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