Drivers’ salaries should not be capped as ‘they use us more to promote F1’ – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says the value of Formula 1’s drivers to the series justify excluding their salaries from the budget cap.

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In brief

F1 drivers’ salaries should remain exempt from budget cap – Alonso

Formula 1 drivers’ salaries remain exempt from the cap which was introduced on teams’ budgets last season, as does the pay of some other top team members. Alonsoo, one of F1’s highest-earners, said the growing demand on drivers’ time justifies keeping their salaries unrestricted.

“I don’t think it’s needed,” he said. “Drivers have been always outside this topic and I think the drivers, they are using us more and more to promote Formula 1.”

Alonso’s first season in Formula 1 was in 2001, when the calendar consisted of 17 races. This year 23 were planned. Alonso said the series is putting greater and greater demands on drivers’ time for publicity purposes.

“We do more and more events,” he said. “We are more in contact with the fans, the paddock. They are asking more and more from us and they are benefiting from that. So we should be outside of that cap.”

Formula E drivers lost three litres in dehydration over Jakarta Eprix

The first Jakarta Eprix, which took place last Saturday, took an exceptionally heavy toll on the competitors. Air temperatures in the Indonesian capital were over 32C, with track temperatures well in excess of 50C and full sunlight, along with tropical humidity.

Venturi confirmed to RaceFans that Lucas di Grassi lost 3kg of weight over the course of the 48-minute race, comparable to what Formula 1 drivers lose during Singapore Grand Prix, which is held in comparable conditions and lasts almost twice as long.

Formula E cars generate much lower g-forces than Formula 1 machines do, but they are significantly heavier and have no power steering. While an F1 car becomes significantly lighter over the course of a race as its fuel load decreases, the same is not true of an FE car.

Schumacher expects more passing in Bakue despite weaker DRS effect

George Russell, Sergio Perez, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
The DRS effect is less powerful in F1 this year
The reduced power of DRS due to Formula 1’s 2022 regulations should not lead to less overtaking during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Mick Schumacher believes.

“I would imagine to see more action and overtaking,” the Haas driver said. “We know that DRS this year isn’t as powerful as it used to be but I’m sure with the cars being able to follow closer, we’ll be able to arrive or stay closer to the car ahead in the last part of the race track and then maybe we won’t need that high DRS power anymore to get by into [turn one].”

Schumacher is looking for his first career points finish this weekend. “It was one of our highest finishes last season, so I hope with a more competitive car we’re able to be higher up as well and have a good race,” he added.

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Comment of the day

Looking at the points deficit between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, Tielemst asks if there might be a difference in approach between a driver used to winning races and a driver finding he can fight for podiums for the first time at Mercedes:

Might it be a difference in race attitude as well here? Lewis seems to always have the bigger picture in mind, fighting for the championship, not the race win.

That’s the only way I can explain his “retire the car, save the engine” comment, which in my opinion was the most disappointing element in his slow start to the season.

George is having a go at a race and a podium. He doesn’t seem too preoccupied by saving engines for later in the season

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Spasman78!

On this day in motorsport

  • 25 years ago today an astonishing finish to the CART IndyCar race on Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit saw Greg Moore win after PacWest team mates Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell ran out of fuel on the final lap

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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24 comments on “Drivers’ salaries should not be capped as ‘they use us more to promote F1’ – Alonso”

  1. Whilst I am not arguing ‘for’ driver salary caps, Alonso’s argument seems a little weak.

    If it is deemed possible to set a sensible cap, why can’t one be set that makes allowance for those ‘additional activities’. Furthermore they could equally ‘cap’ the extent of those activities as well.

    I am also of the view that drivers have, in the past, emphasised how much time they invest in their role. Is he now suggesting they are being asked for 110% for their time?

    1. I think this is a case of turkey’s not voting for Christmas – while a salary cap will clearly be seen as undesirable to the drivers, for everyone else it should be clear as day. It would be a nice gesture if their salary reductions were used to make tickets more affordable for the fans. After all, it’s ultimately money that moves out of our pockets into theirs and for what…?

      If all salaries were capped at $10m then that would probably be $200m saved across the board, not insubstantial. Most of the talent would stay or we’d see new talent coming through.

      1. If the Turkeys cannot vote for Christmas then they might change religion. Or at least they won’t show up for the family Christmas dinner and do a commercial appearance at some pay-per-plate event.

        And the most expensive drivers drive for the teams with the deepest pockets.
        If their salaries are reduced then those companies won’t share the benefit with the fans; they simply spend their marketing budget somewhere else (pay some popular F1 star directly).

  2. Nobody needs to be paid as much as many of the drivers currently get.
    Even if they were restricted to $10m in driver salaries per year, that’s still way more than what the majority of people on Earth will see in their entire lifetime.
    Drivers would still be getting plenty of extra from personal sponsorship and such, so it’s hardly like they’d be having to change their lifestyle.

    I’m never going to stop being disgusted by people who think they are worth so much more than others who do more work in less pleasant activities and conditions for a tiny, tiny fraction of the money. Stop being so selfish and greedy.
    If you feel the need to demand/accept that much money to convince you to keep racing, then maybe it’s time to look for something else to do with your life.
    Club racing is at least as much fun as professional racing, but without all the media work that you apparently dislike so much.

    Just as well that the ‘we race as one’ thing never included financial inequality, which is a far bigger problem in the world today.

    1. Agree 100%

    2. Well said, S

  3. If my recollection is correct, Gio’ Minardi once said that if he could get him and could get the money, he would hire Michael Schumacher to drive for his team. His comment was that he would be worth every cent for both the speed and expertise he would bring and the promotional side benefits that would accompany him.
    Drivers get paid what the market can justify. Consider lawyers. Who do you want running your defence, an inexpensive lawyer or someone who has a winning record. You get what you (negotiate) pay for.
    Trying to reign in driver’s salaries will be a waste of time and resources. The budget limits are a “cost cap”. Drivers can be paid from outside of the team budget. Didn’t Shell pay Schumacher directly?? At least that was a rumor at one time.

    1. Who do you want running your defence, an inexpensive lawyer or someone who has a winning record. You get what you (negotiate) pay for.

      Not always. Price tags and quality don’t always equate with each other.
      And lawyers…? Is there any ‘industry’ known more for it’s high prices than that?
      I’d want a competent and creative lawyer – I wouldn’t just look for the one with the highest fees.

      As far as F1 drivers go – perhaps we’d like to ask McLaren and Mercedes if they currently think that high-priced drivers deliver more than cheaper, younger, less experienced and (perhaps) more creative drivers.
      Yes, it’s all the free market at work – but then, the free market is heaven for fools and greedy types.

      When you look at Schumacher’s career – he was obviously driven by success, but he wasn’t silly enough to think that it would come from a team that couldn’t afford his financial demands.
      He would never have gone to Minardi after being signed by Benetton – or even before, for that matter, as he was a factory Mercedes driver. He didn’t even stay at Jordan, knowing they were too poor for his ambitions as well. Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes all had enormous bank accounts, though… Enough to build much better cars that could win consistently.
      Speaking of Schumacher – what is all that money doing for him now…. I reckon he’d give it all up to go back to his old self. There are far more important things in life than money, after all.

      1. Yes, I think he would, as he was a very active sports person even outside f1.

  4. I think it is always better to have a non driver argue over drivers salaries. Wrt cotd, Lewis always states to approach it race by race, so I do not agree at all.

  5. While Alonso’s argument has some validity, some other sports series (at least NHL) have had a salary cap for a while & they’ve survived, so F1 would equally survive.
    However, I don’t hugely mind either way.

    Singapore & Jakarta (+ Sepang) are in the same climate zone, so given they share the same weather conditions all year round, no wonder FE drivers also endure the same struggles as F1 drivers in Singapore GPs (& did in Malaysian GPs).

    Mick is right. His estimation should indeed happen.

    From the Williams post: Driving styles are generally pretty evident from the outside, so nothing to hide really although I still wonder what Latifi meant by ‘they’? Albon & his support group, Williams, or Albon & Williams?

    COTD is most likely spot-on about the difference in how each one has handled Merc’s general uncompetitiveness relative to the top two.

  6. One of the things that I learnt about contract negotiation is that you need to bring an argument that proves that you should be paid what you are asking for so that the competitor will not benefit from it.

    For example, (I don’t know lewis hamiltons salary, I don’t actually care) lewis hamilton gets paid 40 million, mercedes do not get 40 million dollars worth of work from lewis, they might get 5. They get 35 million of value from the fact they do not have to race against him in another car. That’s where he earns the money. He is an asset to the team in a way that they don’t have to overcome another obstacle of his added performance in a competitors car.

    As for alonsos argument, if there was a cap, there wouldn’t be this, paying to keep you out of a competitors seat. They would have to do other work to supplement thier income, like sponsorship and promotions, or “promoting the sport”

    1. @nicharvs I think there is truth to what you are saying, however, I think there is much more to it than that. Many more aspects. For example, if I’m LH and I’m sitting on my side of the negotiation table, and if I were to be asked to prove my value, I’m going to point out the billions of dollars of marketing value a successful Mercedes F1 team has added globally to the corporation. Mercedes likely looks at LH’s salary as an investment well spent. After all, that is indeed what they pay him (or thereabouts) and have for a while now. Gotta be a reason for that. As well as why other brands want to align themselves with him (read: thousands of top athletes globally). Max has become just as bankable. Alonso. MS back in his day. Etc etc. Just heard last night Lebron James is now a billionaire.

      1. Hey robbie, yeah that’s kinda what I’m saying. There is a slight justification for the ridiculous paycheck that mercedes pays hamilton (we will just use hamilton as an example), but he’s going to bring that anyway, regardless of a salary cap. Those are his personal sponsorship connections because he has either been approached or approached them. If there is a salary cap, it puts more emphasis on drivers signing sponsorship deals, which promotes the sport passively for liberty so it works in thier favor. I’m going to use alonso as an example, he might be sitting pretty on his 30m or what ever he gets and does small gigs here and there to keep his sponsors happy, but if he was capped at 10m, he’d be more incentivised to seek out bigger and better deals, wich in return promotes the sport. There is a salary cap to help make the sport more sustainable, drivers being exempt from that is ridiculous, they have huge earning potential away from thier teams, if the team doesn’t let them promote themselves then they can use that as a negotiating clause.

  7. Whoah, that is the first time I’ve seen the gameplay trailer for F1 Manager and I think it looks great. My days pouring months, seconds and decades into Champ Man / Football Manager are probably behind me, and I don’t own a PC, I find management games convert poorly to consoles (perhaps an outdated view) so unless an OS version appears I’ll probably not be on the pitwall.

    Will seems positive about it and I can see why, I think there is a market for it and if done well could be huge for F1. I can’t image how many clicks I’ve put into Football Manager, but other than Bolton’s disastrous 2032-2033 season I don’t regret a single one.

  8. Listening to prima donna Alonso, i wonder if they should maybe put an ‘arrogance cap’. This guy is going beyond limits, he has to work for 23 week ends instead of the good old 17 and also have to show up to do more PR ! Oh wow! This guy should be paid to stay out of F1.

    1. The question is: If he wasn’t being paid so much, would he still want to win F1 races and championships?

      I’ll bet the answer is yes.
      Same applies to Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel…… The money is largely irrelevant to what they do, but they quite simply still want as much of it as they can get.

  9. The fact of the matter is the drivers are the stars, and like any other major sport Football, Golf, Rugby or whatever, the stars will get what they ask for and that will be money.
    Anyone thinking different has rocks in their head.

  10. While Alonso has a point, even if you capped driver’s salaries, there would be ways that they would work around that with sponsor money or other revenue streams, and the drivers would likely get paid similarly. You would likely see sponsors for the drivers themselves, and not necessarily on the cars/teams.

    I think the stronger conceptual argument for not capping driver’s salaries is that it seems like the intention of the budget cap was to limit car development to lessen the advantage of the tops teams – something which the driver’s salaries doesn’t necessarily impact.

    If F1 wants to cap driver’s salaries, it should be handled separately from the team’s budget caps for car development.

    1. The main point of the budget cap is to increase the financial sustainability of (all) the F1 teams through reduced expenditure, @tim-m.
      Sporting aspects are a secondary benefit, as it would be rather pointless to have a close competition if there were only 5 teams left with the means to actually participate in it.

      To argue that the drivers (and team bosses) pay should be separate from the team budget, you imply that they aren’t part of the team.
      Which sounds kinda silly to me….

      1. Indeed, ultimately everything comes from one pot of money per team, and you have a point about financial sustainability of the teams vs limiting teams from spending their way to victory.

        I’m not arguing that the drivers aren’t part of the teams; my view is that the drivers aren’t necessarily part of the technical development expenditures. (obviously driver feedback helps guide car development, but they aren’t literal goods, like a front wing or CFD computer time)

        If the driver’s salaries are a major component in F1’s lack of sustainability, then I agree with you. Based on what I’ve been reading over the years, it seems the bigger issue is the costs for new entries and items like PU costs. I don’t work in F1, so I don’t have insights to the inner workings of team’s finances, though.

        The common narrative over the past 15ish years seems to be around limiting technical costs – from moving to one tire supplier, a limited number of tires per weekend, limiting testing, limiting wind tunnel time, banning re-fueling, limiting the number of PU’s and other parts allocated per season, increasing the number of listed parts, and now a budget cap; but driver’s salaries haven’t been highlighted as an equal issue.

        1. I’m not arguing that the drivers aren’t part of the teams; my view is that the drivers aren’t necessarily part of the technical development expenditures.

          I get your point, but I still see it that the driver is both a financial expense (as a primary concern for the sustainability aspect) and a performance variable (as a secondary concern) – which screams to me that it needs to be inside the budget cap, just like (almost) all the other human resources in the teams are.
          All financial expenses contribute to sustainability. Even the ones that the media don’t talk about.

          If you think about it, it’s really easy to moan about the cost of engines, transport or electricity and everyone would agree. These things are physical products, resources or commodities which do cost more than they ‘should’ and saying so has no downsides whatsoever.
          However, when the focus is on sportspeoples pay – there’s this idea that the more someone gets paid, the better they are and the better it is for their sport. Sports “heroes” should be handsomely rewarded for being better than their competitors… And our sport has the highest paid of all… Perception is a powerful marketing tool and F1 knows it.
          The teams aren’t going to run to the media to complain about how much their drivers are squeezing them for, and the media aren’t going to complain about it either, because they directly benefit from it too.

  11. I just read an amusing point about budget caps.

    Apparently (as in ‘according to what I read’) a minor overspend (up to 5%) could attract a fine.


    Doesn’t that just mean that those with extra funds who would have happily spent more than the cap will just spend up to that 5% limit merely accepting that the difference will cost them somewhat more than that. In other words, if you have $180,000,000 to spend, and you exceed the $140,000,000 by $7,000,000 then as long as the fine is less than $33,000,000 you are good to go.

  12. Poor dude is overworked! I wonder what say the mechanics or floor workers who also have to work same extra amount and who’s salary has been capped since before the budget cap?

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