Carlos Sainz Jnr, Landio Norris, McLaren, 2019

Drivers’ salaries should be included in budget cap – Brown

2021 F1 season

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Drivers’ salaries should have been included in the budget cap which will be introduced for the 2021 F1 season, says McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

Teams will be limited to a maximum spend of $175 million per season after next year. However certain costs will be excluded including drivers’ salaries, which can range from around half a million dollars per year to more than seven times that.

“I think drivers should have been included in the budget cap, whatever that budget cap is,” said Brown. “What that would do would be [to] force teams to make decisions on where they want to spend money.

“If you felt the driver made the biggest difference, keep paying your drivers what you’re paying them today. But I think it would have put pressure on the team to figure out where do you get your biggest value. So it wouldn’t have automatically reduced their salaries but it would have forced team teams to make more decisions on where they spend their money.”

The budget cap regulations have been relaxed since they were first proposed last year. Brown said he preferred the original plan.

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“It would have been nice, I think you can put on just as good of a show for the race fans spending less and then be in a position to be able to provide a little bit of a better return for your shareholders.

Zak Brown, Chase Carey, Singapore, 2019
Brown preferred the original budget cap proposal
“But there’s compromise. The guys spending a lot more obviously wanted it to be higher. But I think it could have been [lower]. I liked what was initially proposed from the economics in Bahrain [last year].”

That was “150 [with] fewer exclusions,” said Brown. “Now it’s 175 with more exclusions.

“I think what was presented in Bahrain was a better financial model, that would have produced the same race results, maybe arguably better race results because it would concertina the field that much more. And then for your shareholders, you’d like to provide them a return, and because we will run at the budget cap, had the budget been less, that would have provided a better return.”

McLaren will spend something close to the budget cap level in 2021, said Brown. “I don’t think we’ll be outspent much by the top three spenders. They’ve got some bigger driver salaries.”

“But don’t give Carlos and Lando any ideas,” he joked.

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42 comments on “Drivers’ salaries should be included in budget cap – Brown”

  1. I bet he wouldn’t have said that if Alonso was still there…

  2. Just no.

  3. No. It makes perfect sense to keep those out of the budget cap.

    The budget cap is about giving all teams a fair chance at producing a similarly competitive car.

    1. Exactly @f1osaurus, that is (a big part of) the point, to allow the driver /human input in the teams make the difference, not the budget.

      1. It won’t make much difference – drivers will always want to drive the quickest car, even if that team cannot afford the biggest bucks. Williams could offer Lewis Hamilton a billion quid and he wouldn’t move from Mercedes. But if Williams suddenly found 5 seconds a lap Lewis might even pay them for a seat…

  4. Would a pay driver count negatively towards the budget cap instead?

    I understand where he’s coming from, but the potential for abuse seems too great.

  5. Brown can spend $174 million on his cars and $1 million on his drivers.
    All the teams don’t have to spend the same amount

  6. I agree with him – the budget cap should include all elements of the team, including driver salaries, mechanics & other team personnel and marketing costs.

    Teams should be forced to decide whether to hire the best drivers with large salaries or just good drivers but develop the car.

    Limiting it to certain elements leaves it open for the richer teams to exploit.

    1. It might mean though that F1 will go for 2nd tier drivers as they rather spend money on the car.
      Whilst that is what you want, and could overall be a faster package, it could also mean that F1 can no longer attract the best drivers in the world. That’s not F1 to me.

      1. I don’t see how this scenario will stop attracting the best drivers in the world. We already see many teams doing that for other reasons.
        Also i don’t see how that’ll affect a young driver’s mentality, they all believe they have what it takes to be successful.

        As long as F1 is the fastest, most famous, and most technical (there’s a better word somewhere) racing series. It will continue to attract the best of the best

    2. So you prefer pay drivers to drivers with actual talent.

  7. Easy to say that now he has Lando on £10 a week pocket money :-)

    1. Lol they probably pay lando in milk

  8. Would very much lead to a 1st driver 2nd driver thing amongst most teams, so if a team is ever as dominant as Merc again, we’ll be seeing even more dominance than Hamilton, as one of the top drivers will be going up against a Stroll or something rather than a Rosberg / Bottas. No chance of a 2016. Intra-team battles can at times still keep the sport entertaining!

    1. I like how you uaed Stroll as a example of a slower driver. It’s true but I would have used Giovinazzi. I think Stroll will still be signed for next season because pf his fathers money and i don’t know why Giovinazzi was re-signed.

      1. Of course stroll will be signed for next season his dad does on the racing point team.

        1. I know. He’s not a good driver and will never make a top team. He only got with Force India because of his dad. No top team will need the money that Lawrence has to offer as they are rich anyway. Either way he will be out of a seat in 2021 due to the teams being limited to 175 million dollars.

          They then wouldn’t need as much money and will get a quick driver with less money to fill whats left of the $175,000,000.
          Stroll on!

  9. So if we include driver wages, you can say goodbye to proper teammate battles as there will be a clear 1-2 situation again as teams can only afford one crazy wage.

  10. He conveniently didn’t mention executive salary caps. One could argue drivers are the one of the most important personnel in a race team. So I see nothing wrong with the exclusion. Pay them what they’re worth.

  11. PSG signed two world class players Neymar and Mbappé in 2017. The UEFA launched an investigation that lasted a year for financial fair play breaches. The case was handed to José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, a former judge at Europe’s top court and the chairman of the UEFA panel that penalizes teams that break the organization’s financial rules.
    PSG argued that the players cost were covered by rich sponsorship deals from Qatari companies like QNB,Oreedo… and UEFA couldn’t find anything wrong with the deals.
    While everyone knows that the Qatari owners of PSG have just bypassed the strict UEFA rules to conclude the deals, it wasn’t possible to prove it technically.
    How on earth, the FIA is going to ensure the driver’s salary will be respected if it will be included in the budget cap.
    On another note, racing in F1 at the highest level requires a lot of skills and courage. We won’t come often across drivers like MS, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi… They deserve every penny of their salaries, no need to include anything within the budget cap.

  12. “So, how’s your new job at Philip Morris, Sebastian?”
    “It’s great, Lewis, do you like working for Petronas?”
    “Yeah, it’s great. And Max seems happy now he works for the Red Bull fizzy drinks department.”
    “And we still get to drive these cars, isn’t it nice!”

    1. I hadn’t thought of that scenario, but that’s exactly what would happen. My only concern with the driver’s salary being exempted from the budget cap is expenses like uniforms, pedals, the steering wheel, the custom contoured seat, seat belts, halo, crash helmet, etc could be billed against the driver’s salary.
      I think most people suspect there will be some “testing” of the budget cap, but I’m sure that with Liberty Media’s expertise with other sporting codes their auditors would be on to all these sorts of tricks.

    2. @neilosjames

      You beat me to this. If the wages included in the cost cap, this is exactly what will happen.

      With the current setup that the big teams have, it would nigh on impossible to keep track of what drivers are paid. For example, Red Bull Racing “procure” engineering services from Red Bull Technologies, which is a company that is independent to the former. I believe Adrian Newey is employed this way. What if the same were to happen to Max? Meaning that RBT just invoice RBR a nominal sum per race? How will this be policed?

      Similarly, for the guys on big wages at Merc and Ferrari, due to the sheer size of their parent companies, and sponsors, it would so easy to creatively pay the drivers. Im sure Liberty know this, which is why the have excluded wages from the cap.

      Essentially, this cap may result in the smaller teams getting more money, but it isn’t going to change much. The big teams will still continue to dominate. We may see some improvement from the likes of Mclaren and Renault, but I doubt we’d see a Racing Point fight for race wins anytime soon.

      Teams will still blow through all their cash and it a few years they’ll be back cap in hand.

    3. Hillarious man!

  13. I think the administrative salaries should be included along with the three highest paid employees if drivers are going to be included…

    1. Hey… let’s not get crazy here, @socksolid. These highly-rewarded, golden-parachute equipped execs are not going to negotiate to cut their own Corinthian leather wallets. ;-)

  14. I never understood how salary caps in any sport work. How are they not just exploited with payments made under the table in a brown envelope?

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      10th November 2019, 20:20

      Usually they only count player salaries and there is no money under the table, cause there is no need. The big guys get the contract they want or sometimes leave. The small guys get less.

    2. Despite the hype around the idea, I don’t think there’s a single sport worldwide that actually has a working budget or salary cap.

    3. It can work on closed leagues, like most US sports where there is very little trading between the international leagues, and hence it is harder for players to move to other ones. Teams can also be compensates for draft picks, which are paid peanuts.

      It cannot work in an international league like say football well. The MLS can only do it cos there’s relatively trading between them and the beaus football leagues of the world and even then the big international superstars who make the bucks of the cap, everyone else is paid way less.

  15. It does have some sense in it. Especially that we are seeing an era (and probably future eras) where it’s not the driver that’s the deciding factor. It’s the engineers who design and build the car.

    Biggest gap between a top and average F1 driver is around 0.3 seconds, biggest gap between a top car and average car…

  16. Then do it.

  17. Really dumb thing for him to say…

  18. Not the worst idea on the surface but if you look at the long term effects of it there is an avenue for another series to start poaching the stars if they become restricted on pay, which they eventually would, no one is going to sacrifice $40million in car development for Lewis when they could have Norris for $500k. You would have Roger Penske banging on the door in no time bolstering the ranks of his redeveloped Indy car series, hell even V8supercars drivers are getting more than the rookies in F1.

  19. How about putting his salary under the cap too?

  20. Meh. Driver salleries. NBA has this handled well.

    There is a soft cap at 35 million. Every year new drivers are drafted and bottom teams get first pick.

    1. You’ll also need to have a draft system and thats not going to happen in F1.

  21. I wonder how long it will take for this to get exploited. perhaps red bull will sign adrian newey as a test driver (not sure if testers are outside the cap too, but let’s pretend) and then they can pay him whatever they like.

  22. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but I do see the merits. Other sports have a salary cap to stop the best (or richest) teams from buying all the best players, trying to ensure that the talent is spread around the teams to keep more competition. If even the top teams had to think about driver salaries inside their cap, you’d probably see each having clear number 1 & 2 drivers, and that would release some more talented drivers for the “lower” teams…

    I don’t really like it, but it could work…

    Yuk, no, I don’t like it at all! Plus I don’t think it would work.

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