Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020

After capping their budgets, F1 teams eye limits on drivers’ salaries

2020 F1 season

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Back in January Lewis Hamilton took to social media to rubbish claims he was demanding $90 million per year from Mercedes to re-sign with the team for the 2020 F1 season.

The pattern was repeated earlier this month when Hamilton responded to further reports, now insisting $50 million was the magic figure, by insisting “the conversation hasn’t even begun” over his salary.

Team principal Toto Wolff likewise stated “all the things that are out there about contract negotiations, whether him demanding a hilariously high salary or me saying it’s only 50 per cent of that, they are all made up.”

Nonetheless our sources are adamant negotiations started at around this level before the Mercedes main board imposed an absolute maximum of half that. But even at the lower level, a stipend of over $1m per race might be thought an eye-watering amount in return for twiddling a wheel for under two hours in alternate Sundays.

The counter-argument is, of course, that the job description of a Formula 1 driver extends well beyond a bit of steering, for they are simultaneously an ambassador for whatever team and sponsors he represents. Like him or not, ‘get’ him or not, Hamilton combines the dual roles better than anyone else on the grid, and thus should earn more than the rest.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya
How much are F1 drivers earning in 2020 – and should their pay be capped?
‘More’, though, is a relative term, and like any team Mercedes will only pay what they believe a driver is worth, all angles considered. Whatever figure is ultimately agreed upon – if any, as Hamilton may well decide to walk away – still represents a large portion of the team’s budget, particularly with the looming $145m budget cap. $25m represents almost 20% of that; $50m over a third. For one man’s services. For a year.

Put differently, $50m equates to the total payroll of a team employing around 600 heads – the estimated level under the $145m cap, which will reduce in $5m increments in each of the following two years. Can one man really be worth more than 325 ($25m) or even 650 ($50m) highly motivated heads, all slogging minds and hearts out for eight hours for 230 days per year to build the suitable vehicle he drives?

Why is any team prepared to shell out such sums for a driver? The answer is simple: A driver is a performance differentiator, able to find a spilt-second here through bravery, a nano-second there through sheer skill, and micro-second everywhere through application. Teams willingly pay more for top drivers because they deliver lap times and victories.

So do top aerodynamicists and chassis engineers, yet from 2021 their salaries fall within the budget cap. So much so that teams have commenced retrenchment proceedings while others plan to redeploy their staff in other motorsport categories or even activities outside of racing.

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Should it not ultimately come down to a choice of hiring, say, a team of top engineers and providing them with facilities to find those elusive tenths of a second, or blowing the same on a driver able to conjure the same lap time gains out of the car? Arguably, as car performance diverges as a result of restrictions imposed by budget caps, faster drivers should be in greater demand as performance differentiators.

Otmar Szafnauer, Racing Point, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Szafnauer wants drivers’ pay to be capped
Should their salaries not then be included in the budget cap?

“I’m definitely in favour of including driver salaries within the cap because it forces teams to make those decisions,” Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer said in Austria, asking rhetorically: “Do you spend your money on a driver or do you take one that doesn’t cost you so much and spend it elsewhere on performance?”

Claire Williams of the eponymous team believes “drivers are performance differentiators, and in order to get a much more equitable playing field in this sport, as the financial regulations are there to do.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that anyone who is performance related should be part of that cost cap.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has a similar take: “For sure if you spend a lot of money on a driver then you cannot do other things. [Including salaries in the cap] should level the playing field even more and I think the salaries would adjust by themselves and they would end up lower than they are now.”

Mercedes Motorsport CEO Toto Wolff, however, is concerned such inclusions could see F1 lose star drivers. “We don’t want to lose the superstars out of this sport,” he warned. “So it needs to be a gradual introduction from 2024 onwards so that future generations of drivers end up on more sensible levels in considering that we have a cost cap on the team.”

Cynics may point out that Wolff controls arguably F1’s biggest budget and is thus able to pay well over the odds and that his star is likely to have retired by then, while some of the Austrian’s peers do not believe that drivers would leave F1, given the sport’s position at the pinnacle of motorsport, and that they would still be earning substantially more than in other categories.

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“I think the likelihood of drivers being discouraged from participating in our sport would probably be minimal, just simply because this is the highest echelon of motorsport and it’s a destination where drivers want to be racing,” Williams said.

Wolff favours a glide path for capping salaries
It is not only team bosses who are concerned about salary escalations, but the Grand Prix Drivers Association is, too – as GPDA director Romain Grosjean recently divulged. Are drivers therefore participating first out of passion or for the pay?

Where once budget caps were viewed as flights of fancy that morphed into reality, so salary caps – whether via inclusion in overall budget caps or by direct caps on wages – are sure to eventuate; the only questions being: what format, what level and how to control it?

The latter poses the biggest obstacle, for there are myriad ways in which teams and sponsors are able to ‘hide’ payments. For example, by paying a driver $1m for his wheel skills and $49m for his PR image. But such arguments raged during budget cap discussions and sensible solutions were found by consensus. The current budget cap regulations cover a three-year period (2021-2023) and are then up for revision.

Until then Hamilton is free to demand $50m or whatever; whether he does and whether Mercedes accedes is down to two factors: common sense and prevailing market forces.

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95 comments on “After capping their budgets, F1 teams eye limits on drivers’ salaries”

  1. If the driver salary falls within the cap then I’m pretty sure the drivers will end up getting paid nothing at all directly from the teams they drive for, knowing any salary they take reduces the chance their car is competitive. They will get paid indirectly by the sponsors.

    1. Sam, in the past, it was not uncommon for sponsors to be the ones paying significant chunks of the salary of a driver. For example, we know that Ayrton Senna’s salary whilst he was at McLaren was paid by Marlboro, who gave him a contract that offered him payment in return for offering his services to McLaren.

      Under a budget cap system, I expect that is what you’re going to see happen – the drivers will probably be encouraged to sign contracts directly with the sponsors in return for driving for the team in order for them to fall outside of the budget cap.

      1. Anon that will not happen. Just as with team budgets, with driver “salary” caps will also have to consider various scenarios.

        Sure, it will take some time to figure out the best way, and it will mean some hefty reporting of numbers. But there is no way they are going to just cap salaries and leave open payments from sponsors, third companies etc without any checks.

        1. So how do you cap Hamilton? He is not sponsored by Hilfiger as such. He is paid millions by another employer (Hilfiger) to design a clothing range. No different to the Mercedes office cleaning getting a part time job on top of their Mercedes one.

        2. @bascb
          Legally speaking, they cannot do anything about it. Neymar jr was recruited by PSG in the same way. The record transfer fee 225 million and his salary ~30 million were paid throughout lucrative sponsorship deals with Qatari corporations. Barcelona complained to the UEFA and wanted the deal canceled. Even though the investigation ruled that the deals were overvalued (225 million for a few photos, c’mon !), they couldn’t stop the transfer because PSG’s finances were fine and that’s where their jurisdiction stops.
          What can F1 legally do if Leclerc is for example employed by Ferrari for a symbolic fee and at the same time he is receiving tens of millions from their sponsors ?

        3. Off course they CAN @tifoso1989, if they want to.

          If they bring in a budget cap on what a team can pay for their drivers (or include it in the total amount) they will have to define the way how to limit it. I am not sure there how many of the drivers really get a normal “salary” anyway.

          Some get money from their sponsor, some get money from the team, but that would go through a company anyway (see Rosberg’s contract through a tax heaven, or indeed the route that enabled Hamilton to book his private jet as a company jet).
          Off course it will mean paperwork, but if it is upon the TEAM to prove that they meet the limit, and giving incorrect information will mean substantial points losses and monetary fines (the regulation framework already put in place for the budget cap) then we can be sure that most big teams will want to avoid being found out.
          And we can also be sure that both journalists and the other teams will keep a close check on them, since it brings them immediate reward to expose a competitor.

          And yes, I think that once F1 manages this model, it can become a model for a sport like football to follow over time too. But UEFA will have to rework their financial rules to make them effective. Especially after the debacle with Manchester City at CAF this week.

          1. @bascb
            You seem to resonate in a idealistic world.
            You can’t put a limit in the amount of money a single person earns (at least, Formula One can’t), so there will always be room for indirect incomes.
            Is it fair? No.
            Is single human being worth more than 300 others? Hell, nope.
            But that’s how the world works.

          2. You seem to resonate in a idealistic world.

            That is quite far from reality @liko41.

            You can very well limit how much a team can give an athlete in a sport. Salary caps are pretty much normal in many major US sports. And the FIA is currently already working on policing the budgets of F1 teams. And we can be sure that those teams are just as good at finding financial loopholes as they are at finding technical loopholes to get the most out of it. Part of the rules on the budget cap is already structured to put burden on the teams to prove they do meet those caps. And has mechanisms deviced to limit the possibilities to circumvent them by letting money run through “alternative” paths.

            But we also know that teams are able to judge others engine power from sound recordings & GPS data, have programs to transfer pictures into rudimentary 3D CAD data to help in copying stuff and have people watching all communicatons of others to try and get behind what they are doing. Rest assured that Red Bull will happily protest Mercedes if they get info the team is “overpaying” their drivers.

            Will it be completely watertight. Off course not. But it will be relatively tight. Enough to make it somewhat fair.

          3. @bascb
            NBA is a national league and a very specific reality, you can’t really compare it with a global sport like F1.
            Different teams, headquartered in different countries, may be subjected to various legislations, for example. So, the available channels to let the money flow on the drivers’ pockets are way larger.
            I just don’t think it would be an achievable task.

          4. In the attempt to make things more fair, capping driver salaries will actually make things less fair for the smaller teams.

        4. closing external sponsors is the death of F1. Take Max for example he has 2 personal sponsors of around 2-5 Milion.
          Red Bull aren’t lowering their budget with that amount. Otherwise Lewis does a adv for Monster get 50 milion and Mercedes loses 50 milion on their budget i don’t think so.

    2. Capping salaries is not enough. Teams need to go further and claim back from drivers what was paid out in the fat years, 2011 to 2019. For guidance, a driver should be allowed a max of $3m per year, with an agreed deadline for returning the surplus. Naturally HAM has to lead by example here.

  2. Let’s cap salaries when it’s a black person who earns the most. Yeah, this is systemic racism and as we all know it has to end! Hamilton is fighting poverty, his personal one, leave him alone. Also he’s spending a lot of his estimated worth of 300 (or 400, 500, whatever) million on helping people from ethnic backgrounds to get into motorsport. Unfortunately I can’t remember even a single initiative (I don’t think working in vegan burger chain can get you to F1), but surely he has his own team in karting/lower category like Ricciardo, Leclerc or Alonso have, right?

    1. @armchairexpert
      I don’t think I’ve ever read such an amount of nonsense in a single comment before.

      1. Don’t bother mate to explain anything we’re in Strawbery Fields. Although I can echo on everything you said wearing ‘reality glasses’ all the time annoys those who live in their little parallel universes. Friendly advice is to drop it just for the sake of inner peace.

    2. As a PoC, stop your nonsense.

  3. The sensible thing is off course to include driver salaries into the budget cap. As is mentioned in the article, everything that is a “performance differentiator” should be.

    And I am sure that over time they will get there. So the first step may be a top number on any driver salary, and over time, after the team budget cap and their policing have been in action for a few years, they just make them part of the budget.

    Off course they need to figure out how to police the numbers (salary, PR representation, Image rights, support crew, travel cost, etc etc. And they can also come directly from sponsors), but that is not more complicated than it already is to guard team budgets.

    Off course if / once they manage to do this, it would be very good if football then takes the same model. And also introduces a budget cap and salary cap to stop sheiks and olicharchs from laundring money through that sport.

  4. Salary caps are fine provided they don’t encourage the best drivers to leave the sport.

    Having said that, if I was Mercedes I would introduce a salary cap anyway. Their car is so superior that they don’t need the best driver to win both championships.

    1. Their car is so superior, @sonnycrockett, that the best drivers would fight to drive it. If Lewis were to leave Merc at the end of this season then not only would Seb jump at it, but Max, Danny Ric and all the rest would do all they can to get out of their existing contracts, just to get into a 2-way fight with VB for the WDC.

      1. @juan-fanger
        Reality is Mercedes is superior NOW.
        With Vettel/Ricciardo as their first driver, Mercedes would have lost the 2018 championship, possibly 2017 too.
        That’s why they keep Hamilton on board. Because he made the difference when they needed the most.

        1. If Hamilton wasn’t at Merc in those years, Rosberg probably would have stayed and become multiple champion.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      14th July 2020, 10:46

      They also don’t need to offer the biggest wages to get the best drivers – is someone with the sort of money Lewis has going to leave one of the two seats in the grid with the chance of winning the Championship to get a bit more cash? I doubt it….

      I’d imagine any of them on the grid would gladly half their current wage to be Mercedes’ number 1 driver. The power is all with Mercedes at the moment.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        14th July 2020, 10:53

        @petebaldwin Hamilton could have won the championships for Ferrari in 2017 2018 and perhaps even 2019 though. It’s the drivers who cost them those titles. Especially in 2018 and 2019 they were mostly a disgrace.

        Mercedes pay Hamilton those obscene amounts to make sure he stays with them. Why else?

        1. 2019 Ferrari with a potential of winning the title – haven’t heard a better joke for a long time.

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      14th July 2020, 10:59

      @sonnycrockett Mercedes knows this is not true though. Perhaps this was the case from 2014 to 2016, but they see how Vettel wasted 2017 and 2018 with many many blunders and how both of the Ferrari drivers made a mess of 2019.

      Hamilton at Ferrari certainly would have cost them 2018 and most likely 2017 as well. Perhaps even 2019.

      Bottas can do a decent Q3, but almost always at the expense of his race pace.

      1. I disagree. I think if you put any of the following in a Mercedes then they would win the championship:

        Bottas (already there)

        1. @sonnycrockett
          You THINK.
          Sure, mate. Watch again 2018 season.

          1. Well if Rosberg can beat Hamilton then surely Max can as well in the same car!

        2. I’m inclined to agree.
          That team has delivered by far the most superior car and executed their strategy almost perfectly and consistently.
          Raikkonen would be the weakest of those listed, but he’d still have finished second to the other Merc.

        3. Probably add half the field to that list too, Sainz, Perez, hell, even fruitnuts like Stroll probably could (ok Stroll, maybe a stretch).

          It be easier and a shorter list, to list the drivers who COULDN’T win in todays Merc.

          Albon, Gasly, Kyvat, Grosjean, … ummm that’s probably it actually.

        4. So why do Mercedes pay Hamilton so much when they could simply get another driver in “on the cheap”? Not many drivers could have won the title in 2017/18 in the Mercedes, Hamilton beat Vettel whilst driving an inferior car.

          Now a lot of that was down to Vettel making rookie errors, but was that due to the pressure Hamilton put him under?

        5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          14th July 2020, 22:51

          @sonnycrockett the problem is that no team knows that they have the best car before the season starts or that they will have the quickest car throughout the season. Top teams have to make sure they have the best drivers.

          And if a driver is 1.2 seconds faster in the rain, you can either pay that driver the salary he wants or you can try and gain that advantage through development which is much more risky and expensive and gets exponentially more expensive.

          That’s only looking at speed – then you need to look at consistency where a driver maximizes the points.

          In hindsight, it’s easy to say this or that driver would have won that but when you’re signing a driver to help you win next year, you’d choose the best driver that’s available, not the cheapest or most affordable.

          No championship is guaranteed – it takes laser focus and excellence to win them. Last year, Mercedes lost focus at the German GP and they were crushed by the other teams. You take your eye off the ball for a split second, that championship is gone.

        6. add to that list:
          Suzie Wolff
          Eddie the Eagle
          Heck, even Jolyon would maybe score a point or 2 in it.

    4. I think most top drivers would want to drive that mercedes even for just a basic salary that pays their expenses @sonnycrockett, as @petebaldwin mentions most drivers would go quite far to get into that car already.

      These driver salaries are more of a comparative scorecard thing to the drivers anyway IMO, a way to compare their value (for the team) to other drivers.
      If there is a cap, than that will be the new limit and all salaries will be based on that. The top guys will get the max amount, others will get a % of that.

    5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th July 2020, 12:09

      @sonnycrockett where do you stand on salary caps for sitcom actors? :-)

  5. People who want a salary cap think its a great idea, unless its their salary of course.

    1. I’m fine with capping my salary at 1 million, like most people will be, I assume.

      1. Exactly. Although pshycology has tought us that everyone will still want about 1/3 extra regardless of their salary.

      2. So you think the cap is OK as long as the person being capped decides what the cap is?

      3. If you’re earning more than 1 million now, you won’t think so. Especially if you took a lot of risks, and worked many years to go the top of a lucrative field.

    2. If I get to drive the best car for 6 years and can insist on having a slower team-mate and some favourable team-orders, I’ll do it for free.
      Drivers can’t buy championships – even with their obscene bank balances.

  6. It’ll be fascinating to see how they police this. I can foresee driver salaries being dropped considerably, with payments being made by third parties. Or maybe they will pay them in stocks that they convert to cash after the accounting team have done their checks the following year?

    I’m not criticising the objective, huge salaries are a problem in many areas of society. The challenge is inevitably as they move to clip driver salaries, they will need to also look at Team Principles, Aerodynamicists and various other key performance differentiators in their business’.

  7. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    14th July 2020, 9:29

    Keep salaries out of the cap. The drivers are the superstars and the superhero’s we all love to see and should be rewarded on their ability in the supply and demand fashion. Like Sam has said above there will be ways around it through sponsorship but otherwise the best drivers are going to be less desirable for the hit it has on the team. Like the New England Patriots, they are a well oiled machine but very rarely throw their budget cap at superstars. The driver value will become a calculation of ability vs cost, whereas it should just be a value of ability.

    1. Very much agree, last sentence sums it up well. That calculation will also be more difficult for the smaller teams looking for a good driver.. making it unfair in the process

  8. “Claire Williams believes “drivers are performance differentiators”,
    Put George Russell in the Merc at $1m per year and he will win races,
    Putting Ham in the Williams at $1m per race and he will finish last.
    The real “performance differentiators” are the talented engineers back at base, and the tools at their disposal.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      14th July 2020, 10:27

      Fair point but made to black & white.
      True the best driver in the world is not able to win in a Williams at the moment however not 100% true that if you put the worst 2 drivers in a Mercedes that they would win the same amounts of races that Hamilton & Bottas would.

      Also look at some of the gaps between teammates at some teams – pretty much same car, same team yet a performance difference that is than purely down to the driver (ignoring luck & misfortune).
      How much better would Red Bull have done last year if Ricciardo would have driven for them instead of Gasly/Albon – I believe Riccadio easily would have outsourced Gasly, Red Bull would had more tactical options during races (most clear example is Hungary) and Red Bull car development would have been better/quicker.

      That last part is not highlighted in above article is how certain drivers can make a big positive impact on car development with their detailed constructive feedback, by able to push the car really to the max but also their popularity/reputation makes it easier for that team to attract top talent engineers.

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      14th July 2020, 10:30

      Yes but the best drivers will be tenths of a second faster a lap and look after tyres better, higher racing intelligence plus marketability. The car is everything but the driver is a huge factor. Surely that’s obvious to all?

      1. Is obvious to me. Drivers are performance part of the package. The difference between 40 and 1 million € is probably around 2-3 tenths.

        So well worth to spend extra 39 million on development. But those fastest drivers would happily drive for 5 million in nearly same car, and get 35 million by sponsors outside the sport.

        1. The difference between 1 million and 40 millions is a few tenths per lap.
          Which equals to SECONDS in 70-something lap race, which turns a third place into a win.

        2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          14th July 2020, 12:19

          Exactly. Supply and demand. The value of a driver’s pace and worth to the team is reflected in his price tag.

        3. Theres much much more that goes into being a great driver than simply being 2 tenths faster than another. Same goes for choosing a driver

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      14th July 2020, 10:49

      @colinh2001 Clearly though Hamilton is the differentiator why Mercedes won in 2017 and 2018 and actually even 2019 could have been a lot closer if Ferrari had drivers that keep their car pointing in the right direction more. With Hamilton at Ferrari and Bottas as the lead driver at Mercedes it would not have been impossible for Ferrari to be champions in 2019.

    4. “Claire Williams believes “drivers are performance differentiators”,

      she never said it was the only differentiator.

  9. this cost cutting in F1 is simply ridiculous ..formula one is the pinnacle of motorsport…and technology.. so let them spend..whatever they want..and i do not see what the problem is ..

    1. @spiderman The problem is the current model is unsustainable. The smaller teams are going bankrupt and will eventually disappear, while the top teams spend ever increasing massive budgets to outperform each other, and making it ever less likely for those smaller teams to get a result. They have to make the sport more attractive and accessible to everyone otherwise you end up with only 3-4 teams running and the sport becomes unviable because the fans lose interest.

      1. Yeah but they re ready doing that with the cost caps. Most of the performance is in the cars and those are capped. On top of that, you have the “aero testing” balancer that is coming in after 2022 where top teams the previous season gets to do less of that.

    2. F1 can be the ‘pinnacle’ without being unsustainably expensive. Technological advancement comes from ideas, not from money.
      If the drivers (or anyone, for that matter) were to leave F1 because they can make more money in another series, then… Bye. They can’t be world champion anywhere else.

      1. @synonymous
        Why can’t they?
        If star drivers go all together elsewhere, that “elsewhere” becomes the pinnacle of motorsport.

        1. But not the ‘official World Championship’…

          Indycar champion, yes. Super Formula champion, yes. World Endurance Champion, yes.
          F1 World Champion… no.

          1. That F1 WDC/WCC title will go to whichever series pays the most for it.

          2. I don’t follow your logic. At all.
            Why on Earth would FIA sell out F1… Which they own… Which is the the pinnacle of both their own and their affiliated open wheel series… Which is one of the four World Championships (Endurance, Rally and Rallycross being the others)…

            Please, do explain. I’m interested.

          3. Sell it, not sell out. If the best drivers went elsewhere a number of teams would follow. And what would be the value of a second or third rate series with second rate drivers no matter what brand name (F1) you slap on it. Not forgetting without F1 big money teams and big money drivers paying into the FIA they would not be able to function as they do today.
            Unless you believe F1 would have same value when all the top drivers in the world were driving elsewhere. I don’t see many people being fooled by an F1 label when it clearly isnt the best series. Or you think the FIA wouldn’t follow the money?

          4. Unlikely that FIA would sell their golden goose.
            Capping the amount that teams can pay drivers has little effect on drivers incomes – they can make plenty of money outside of the F1 team through private endorsement and commercial contracts.
            If drivers leave, new ‘stars’ would take their place. Hamilton and Vettel are stale old news and F1 directs plenty of its marketing space toward Norris, Leclerc and Russell now. The drivers door is constantly rotating as they come and go.
            If they feel that money is more important to them than achievement and professional application, then that’s their problem. I won’t lose any sleep if Hamilton says he wants more money and so will drive in Indycar instead. F1 will go on, and someone new will take his place.

            Is F1 the ‘best’ racing series now? It’s definitely debatable. More of an acquired taste, I think.
            What is does have is market reach. That is what teams, sponsors and advertisers are keen to take advantage of.
            And it’ll still have that without the Hamiltons, Vettels or Verstappens. F1 existed quite successfully without them.

    3. The problem is that you will land up with very few teams in the series as Most simply can’t afford to compete. The outcome of that is ‘Goodbye F1’. It really is that simple

  10. F1oSaurus (@)
    14th July 2020, 10:47

    An incoherent wall of text which basically sums up as: “Top teams want to negotiate driver salaries as they have always done. Small teams disagree and want to force drivers to accept lower salaries so they can also afford top drivers.”.

    1. well put!

  11. “Performance differentiators”

    Teams matter about six times more than drivers when it comes to success in F1.
    About two-thirds of the team effect is consistent over time, with the rest caused by teams changing year-on-year.
    Team effects have increased over time, but appear to be smaller on street circuits, where the driver’s skill plays a greater role.


    1. @SadF1fan
      So, this is actually called “a study”?
      Try again, try better.

      1. Its quite typical research at a typical university.

    2. Very interesting perspective.
      I think we can all agree that the F1 car is an extreme separator: you either have a car that can win or one that will probably not (all things being equal).
      However, the key question which this research probably has not answered is : in terms of actual performance on the track, how much of the results can you really attribute to the car, the team and the driver. That is, if the Mercedes team wins 16 races in a year, given the same car how many races would Williams or Ferrari and their drivers have won during the same period?
      I still think over an entire career, you can generally deduce which drivers (among the winning drivers) have done the better job. And despite his current troubles, I think Vettel is one of the good ones (just not on the level of Hamilton).

  12. There is no need for any sportsman to earn more than 1 million £ a year.

    It simply is not justified when you have doctors etc. running around saving lives on £70K a year.

    Salaries should represent worth and contribution to society. They’re certainly entertaining, but they don’t deserve 1 million a year. Never mind £40 million or whatever Hamilton gets.

    Disparity like this just widens the poverty gap, a gap Lewis is all too keen to point out.

    1. Salaries should represent worth and contribution to society. They’re certainly entertaining, but they don’t deserve 1 million a year.

      Well what is more important to society? Saving 1 life through a medical procedure or stopping a society from falling into chaos, riots and violence by providing entertainment?
      Bread and games has been one of the most important factors in society for millennia.

    2. Again, this is dreaming.
      I might agree with you theorically, but social justice is not something you can achieve through Formula One.
      It’s a much broader issue.

      1. No, this is reality and it is happening right in front of your eyes.
        4 months of Covid has brought the USA to the edge of what could be a civil war. Simply because of a lack of bread and game.

        All doh i argue blm is nothing more than a new version of bread and games, drawing attention away from what is actually going on, the rich enriching themselves during a crisis over the back of the poor.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th July 2020, 12:16

      Disparity like this just widens the poverty gap, a gap Lewis is all too keen to point out.

      It’s not like Mercedes would share the money with the poorest people on Earth. It just seems some folks at Mercedes would own larger yachts.

      We live in an era where excellence is sport is compensated properly.

    4. So by your reckoning, it will be fair if we pay the drivers $1M then allow the shareholders of the racing companies or the race organisers to earn hundreds of millions.
      We either all earn the minimum wage or allow are talents and creativity to push us higher than the average being.
      Besides what is the true value of money.
      Back in the days when Senna was earning more than $1M a race, you could say that the true value of that money is a lot more than the same amount 25 years after. So why fix an arbitrary amount as salary when the true value can change the very next week.
      A driver is like a shareholder in his brand marketed by his team, thus he is entitled to a reasonable percentage.

    5. How about we limit everyone salary with an official cap then? Like reduce everyone by 50%.

      See how much you like it.

  13. Limiting Lewis salary could be seen as racist, so can’t have that.

  14. I think drivers can make a difference but not a big a one as they claim as we’ve seen with Alonso and others going to ‘lesser’ teams and not putting the car on pole. The aero and power unit have bigger impacts.
    The challenges with any salary cap are many as others have said. What about a guy that brings sponsors to a team? what about a guy who’s father buys an F1 team for him :) he can work for free!
    Then what about the perks, free use of a road car etc that would all need to be accounted.

    The flip side the drivers are the entertainment I don’t watch to here Toto talk on and on and on…. so if the sport makes million why shouldn’t the drivers, just like NBA players who don’t risk their lives at their sport.

    If we do get a cap, should we also have a minimum to avoid drivers / accountants hiding the money. Much like the NHL they could have a min number for each driver and max for all team drivers including reserve ???

    1. @scott6428 “I think drivers can make a difference but not a big a one as they claim as we’ve seen with Alonso and others going to ‘lesser’ teams and not putting the car on pole. The aero and power unit have bigger impacts.”

      Agree 100%
      (Iv’e said this before but it wasn’t posted…)
      F1 is a Manufacturers Championship, drivers help with that goal but are not the defining factor. Anyone that believes Mercedes would not have won all these championships without Hamilton is delusional. The team and what they produce has been far superior and could/would have won with several of the drivers on the grid.
      Not denying that Lewis is brilliant, but so are many others.
      Drivers Championship is secondary to the Manufacturers Championship. (Not talking about general consensus here, just the facts)

  15. Interesting to note Hamilton is in the exact same time of his career age wise as Schumacher was in 2004 both were sitting on six drivers titles and salary wise Hamilton is earning pretty much the same as what Schumacher was earning in 2004.


  16. Salary caps in USA are for player salaries only. It has nothing to do with the organizations budget. Huge difference IMO. You can spend a small fortune in scouting and player development and it would still pale in comparison to what it costs to build a fast racecar. You don’t rebuild Lambeau Field every year.

    If F1 drivers are limited on what they can make, I would imagine if Chip Ganassi, Joe Gibbs, or the WEC flavor of the month calls and offers them more money to drive for them, they would Leave F1. The only way that doesn’t happen is if personal sponsorship pays to keep them in F1.

    1. You think they’d pick money above all else? They don’t care what or where they race, as long as it brings more cash?
      ‘Who wants to be F1 World Champion they can get triple the pay in NASCAR…’

    2. I think you hit the nail on the head there.. f1 teams build an entirely new car every year.. why not just have a car for two years as a minimum. Much like 202 and 2021 will be.. teams can still improve their car and it will reduce costs

  17. Neil (@neilosjames)
    14th July 2020, 15:50

    When you look at the sums earned by other elite sportspeople, I don’t think F1 is an outlier. The are in most sports a select few who can do incredible things with their weapon of choice – Lionel Messi with a football, Tom Brady with his arm, LeBron James with a basketball… and in that group you have Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen etc with a steering wheel. They’re paid that much because, out of the entire global population, there are one or two known individuals who can do what they do.

    Adrian Newey would be the design equivalent, and when Ferrari tried to poach him they offered obscene amounts. Only a few know precisely how much but it was likely not far off elite driver levels. Again, because he’s perceived as belonging to that tiny number of people in the world who can do what he does… and unless things have changed, his salary (and the other two top earners in the team) will also be exempt from the budget cap, alongside the drivers. And I think that’s fair enough.

    Obviously the smaller teams would want such payments to be included, given their financial position, but I’m happy enough with the way the cap’s been laid out and the exemptions. Drivers and top engineers are special, so giving a bit of freedom to pay for their specialness is the right call.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      15th July 2020, 12:13

      @neilosjames Another example is Diego Simeone, the coach of Atletico Madrid who makes 40+ million euro. Obviously, he helped transform Atletico into one of the best teams in the world and for 1-2 years while doing it on a shoestring budget compared to the other 2 La Liga giants.

  18. While I do think their salaries are crazy, I see no justification for capping them.

    Unless all sports do that, especially Football, F1 must not place any limits on driver salaries.

    Don’t have money to pay for Hamilton? Sorry, you can have Stroll then.

  19. Leave the drivers salaries alone. They are superstars in the most expensive sport in the world, and should be paid as such!

    1. In fine with teams reducing salaries, I just don’t like it when its enforced as an official cap.

      I also think the cars are the biggers performance differentiator anyways and those are accounted for in the upcoming cap. Not that drivers aren’t important but putting the best drivers in a current day Williams and they’ll struggle to finish 10th every race, let alone a podium.

  20. If the salary cap doesn’t lead to the top drivers going elsewhere then fine. But I suspect it would.

  21. I really don’t see why this is so complicated.
    Teams have/will have a budget cap, they choose to spend that however they see fit, it they do it wrong they will fail.
    Drivers will get a salary paid out of that cap, no problem, they are way overpaid in my opinion anyway, but, as was called out earlier, that is the way it is, fair or not.
    Teams can not stop anyone from earning money from other sources, sponsors or other unless it is a conflict of interest or directly impacts their ability to perform their duties.

  22. The problem is that you will land up with very few teams in the series as Most simply can’t afford to compete. The outcome of that is ‘Goodbye F1’. It really is that simple

  23. @scott6428 “I think drivers can make a difference but not a big a one as they claim as we’ve seen with Alonso and others going to ‘lesser’ teams and not putting the car on pole. The aero and power unit have bigger impacts.”

    Agree 100%
    (Iv’e said this before but it wasn’t posted…)
    F1 is a Manufacturers Championship, drivers help with that goal but are not the defining factor. Anyone that believes Mercedes would not have won all these championships without Hamilton is delusional. The team and what they produce has been far superior and could/would have won with several of the drivers on the grid.
    Not denying that Lewis is brilliant, but so are many others.
    Drivers Championship is secondary to the Manufacturers Championship. (Not talking about general consensus here, just the facts)

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