SportF1Wolff advises F1 on drivers' pay cap

Wolff advises F1 on drivers' pay cap

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the introduction of a driver salary cap would be a positive for the series, but at the same time explained that the figures that have been rumored are still too high.

Currently, the salaries of all the staff of a Formula 1 team are included in the budget cap, with the exception of the drivers and the three highest paid employees. “This has become quite a controversial issue,” said the German team principal.

On the one hand, the highest category is booming economically, but on the other hand, the teams can no longer spend as much due to the budget limit, something that seems to be having an impact on the employees: “We have 140 million dollars for a thousand people. With inflation, we’re in trouble meeting it,” Wolff explained.

In turn, there is talk of introducing a maximum cap of 30 or 40 million for the salary limit of the pilots. For the Austrian, this is “unreasonable”, since “the best teams cannot have a wage bill of 30, 40 or 50 million for the drivers when the rest of the staff has to share 140 million”.

“But beyond that, the drivers are great superstars who deserve to be among the highest earners in the world of sports,” he added.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

In this sense, Toto Wolff gave the example of the main sports leagues in the United States, which have already had a salary cap for some years. “It works pretty well there.”

Haas team manager Günther Steiner shared this view: “We can learn something from these great American sports leagues.”

However, the way athletes’ salaries are managed in the US is different in all sports: while in football and ice hockey there are strict limits, in basketball certain exceptions are allowed. Instead, in baseball, there is a kind of luxury tax that forces teams to shell out extra if a player’s salary exceeds the limit.

One possibility could be to reduce the salary that pilots receive directly, giving them the rest of the money through advertising contracts. “That’s two-thirds [of salary], if not more, for teams in these major American leagues,” Wolff explained.

One idea that has been discussed recently is that drivers could exceed the salary cap, but that extra money would then have to come out of the overall budget cap total for the entire team.

“In the big American leagues, the team owners can decide how to distribute their salaries. You have a team of 80 or 90 people, but you still have the power to decide if you want to have a great superstar who earns much more than the others. That would be a possibility.”

For Ferrari director Mattia Binotto , “it’s a pretty complicated issue, and I’m not sure there’s a solution.” However, for him, an immediate solution is not necessary either: “Only three or four teams can pay big salaries and, in addition, those already have long-term contracts with their drivers. So it is not something that we have to introduce for the next year”.

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