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Father of Williams driver issues loan for team

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Nicholas Latifi of Canada and Williams looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

A company owned by the father of Formula One driver Nicholas Latifi has agreed to provide a loan to the Williams F1 team.

The loan, which was finalised last week and is part of a refinancing of corporate borrowings, has been struck with the Michael Latifi-owned Latrus Racing Corp.

Michael’s son Nicholas is to make his Formula One debut this year, after being confirmed in November by Williams as a race driver.

The Latrus loan involves a mortgage on the Williams team’s facilities, with a collection of heritage racing cars included as security. No financial details are available. Latifi’s Sofina Foods is also a prominent sponsor of the UK-based team.

“Following the sale of WAE at the end of 2019 we began a refinancing process,” deputy team principal Claire Williams, daughter of founder Frank, told industry publication motorsport.com.

“We have now concluded our refinancing with a consortium of lenders, all of which was negotiated on an arms-length commercial basis. The loan package provides us with the resources that we need moving forward,” Williams added.The deal is the second in an F1 team for Canadian businessman Latifi. In 2018, via his British Virgin Islands-based company Nidala Ltd, he acquired a roughly 10-per-cent stake in McLaren.

Former world champions and previously a regular fixture at the front of the grid, the privately-owned Williams have seen a major loss of revenue after finishing 10th for the past two seasons. The firm sold off its advanced engineering division in December 2019. Last week, it announced it had furloughed staff until the end of May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with drivers Latifi and George Russell also agreeing to pay cuts.

Elsewhere in Formula One, Haas and Renault DP World became the latest in a growing list of teams to furlough staff. In separate press releases, the teams said they would make use of the Job Retention Scheme recently rolled out the by the British government. That arrangement involves a grant that covers 80 per cent of monthly wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 ($3,115/€2,850) a month.

Five of the seven UK-based Formula One teams have now furloughed staff as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.