In the face of the Silverstone Grand Prix, some team executives would like a driver’s pay cut – but not everyone is following a coercive approach.
Form 1 race teams do not have to save like Scrooge McDuck. Deals from Disney world keep their players together carefully, team officials are allowed to spend $ 140 million (134 million euros) this season. There is a cost brake, it should ensure more equitable opportunities between small private groups and large corporate teams and that world tour can be calculated more financially. Ahead of the British Grand Prix this Sunday (4am), team leaders are arguing over whether the budget limit should be increased because of inflation, because transportation, logistics and development costs are rising sharply. A compromise emerges: Liberty Media holders can donate money to teams that are not below the limit. There are talks of up to four million dollars.
In addition, it is being debated whether the salaries of the highest paid drivers and three team members will be reduced in the future, which is currently unlimited. Then Red Bull and Mercedes would have to convert every penny three times for cars and other teams – Bulls drivers Max Verstappen (40 million euros) and Sergio Perez (7.5) take up almost a third of the total budget. Silver Arrow drivers Lewis Hamilton (40) and George Russell (4.5) are slightly lower. “Everything related to performance must be within a certain limit,” claimed McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl, “which is why we are open to such proposals.”
Only the biggest critics of car racing doubt that pilot traits have an impact on results – so there should also be a higher limit in terms of equal opportunities. $ 30 million (28.7 million euros) is earmarked for both drivers, with transition periods applied to recently concluded contractors such as Ferrari star Charles Leclerc or Red Bull drivers. Like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes believe that the budget limit must first be set before the next step can be taken.
Not everyone sees it that way. Team leaders Othmar Szafnauer (Alpine) and Frederic Vasseur (Alfa Romeo) believe that drivers’ salaries should be reduced. Why? Those who spend less on pilots can invest in savings in technology. Those who pay the drivers better should reduce the car. “That makes sense for competition,” says Alfa man Vasseur.
There is an explosion. The team can lay off part of the workforce to be able to afford expensive pilots, which is why the agreement can be seen as follows: The payroll for drivers is a maximum of 28.7 million euros, if much less, the amount saved. can be used for other investments. But there is also a loophole here, for example if a donor takes a salary or part of it. “Formula 1 drivers are the best in the world,” insisted Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, “so they should get the same salaries as other major stars in the game.”
In professional leagues, such salary scales are set for active players. In the North American NFL football league, the salary limit for the 53rd team next season is $ 208.2 million (199 million euros), in the NBA basketball league it is $ 109.1 million; If the club pays what is called a luxury tax, it can spend more. This is also the case in the MLB baseball league, where $ 208 million is the upper limit. In the NHL ice hockey league, the maximum is $ 81.5 million, in the MLS football league it is $ 4.9 million per team, and two professionals are not included, which means teams can afford the top star.
This works, even if administrators use cunning rules or enter the gray area – there are bonuses, contracts are split or created for a long time, bonuses are paid for all sorts of reasons.
“We support the introduction of a salary limit for drivers,” McLaren team boss Seidl said. The pilots are not enthusiastic, former world champion Fernando Alonso denied: “We do more events, we often communicate with fans, System 1 benefits from us, so we should be released.”
The Spaniard has not made a mistake, the sale of the column has reached 14 billion euros. World champion Max Verstappen says: “I think the salary limit is not right. Formula 1 is becoming increasingly popular, everyone is benefiting from it – so drivers should too.” Lewis Hamilton, like Verstappen, who earns more than 40 million euros, feels the same way. “I will not be around for long, but the new generation should not be held back,” said the 37-year-old.