With Formula 1 teams becoming increasingly under financial strain, Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff has expressed his support of the controversial proposed driver salary cap.
Teams have threatened that they may miss the final rounds of the championship, should the $140 million budget cap not be increased.
The dramatic inflation which has hit every market in the world, has seen running costs surge for teams, whilst some drivers currently sit on extremely lucrative contracts.
None more so than Mercedes’ Sir Lewis Hamilton, who’s current deal is rumoured to be worth $62 million, according to Forbes.
Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen is the second-highest paid driver in the paddock, with Forbes estimating that the Dutchman earns €40 million a year.
Drivers’ salaries currently aren’t included as part of the budget cap, however, there have been calls for a driver salary cap to be introduced.
A driver salary cap would save some teams millions of dollars annually, however, some drivers have spoken out over what they call “total idiocy”.
Verstappen has arguably spoken out more than anyone else; the Dutchman recently signed his new lucrative deal which runs until 2028.
The Red Bull Racing driver has labelled the idea “completely wrong”, with the Dutchman believing they are paid the amount they are due to them “putting their lives at risk”.
Wolff sees the other side of the argument, as a driver salary cap would benefit the entire team and all the staff involved.
“Certainly it has come up as a controversial topic,” the Austrian told reporters in Baku.
“We can see we are facing a very difficult situation in Formula 1 overall, the sport is booming and Formula 1 is earning more money and that is trickling down to the teams, but we have a cost cap.
“We have $140million for 1,000 people, with inflation – we haven’t even been able to pay the inflation. And I think the talk about [even a] $30-40million salary allowance is inadequate when you take that perspective.
“Now clearly drivers will have an opinion on that, and maybe as a driver I would say the same thing.
“But the US leagues that are the most successful in the world introduced salary caps 15 years ago. It works pretty well over there.”
Whilst the idea has been discussed, plenty of work is still needed before it could be implemented.
Wolff believes it’s unfair for a driver to earn over $30 million a year, with the Austrian believing that a method is needed to reduce drivers’ salaries.
“Formula 1 is looking at it without an immediate solution to it,” said the Austrian.
“But I think like all the other sports in the world, we need to find a way of how we can act sustainably and become independent from sovereign funds or state-owned teams.
“Therefore it’s certainly clear it will be one of the main areas because you can’t simply have a [driver] salary bill in some of the top teams that is $30/40/50million when the rest of the team has to be divided by $140million.
“Having said that, they [the drivers] are tremendous superstars, they deserve to be among the top earners in the sport in terms of direct salaries. They already are.
- “And then we need to find a way of unlocking the endorsement, the capability of doing endorsement deals, which is two-thirds, if not more [of sportspeople earnings] for US sport teams – but direct salaries, Formula 1 drivers are paid the most,” concluded the Mercedes boss.