Formula 1’s drivers will have a seat at the table when a new working group begins its discussions on a salary cap proposal which the sport aims to introduce in the future.
This year’s $145 million budget cap excludes, among other items, drivers’ retainers as well as the salaries of the three highest paid members of a team’s management.
Last year, a proposal was tabled to limit drivers’ salaries to $30 million. The idea gained traction with team bosses who see the restriction as a useful tool to help lower costs and drive equality in the sport.
However, a few significant legal hurdles will likely need to be ironed out before such a provision cap can be implemented.
The topic was discussed once again in Thursday’s virtual meeting of the F1 Commission during which it was decided that a special working group including the drivers would be set up to conduct further due diligence on the concept of a salary cap.
“As 2021 sees the introduction of a cost cap for the first time in Formula 1, various topics around controlling costs and how this overall objective can be achieved over the coming years were tabled during the meeting,” said F1 and the FIA in a statement.
“As part of this, a working group will be created – including the drivers themselves – to discuss the topic of driver and senior team management contracts.”
Last summer, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expressed his support for the idea of eventually including driver salaries in the teams’ controlled and restricted budget.
However, the Austrian also feared that imposing a threshold on retainers could drive F1’s super stars away from the sport.
Lewis Hamilton, the sport’s top earner with an estimated annual retainer of $40 million, is predictably circumspect on the subject of capping drivers’ salaries.
“I think it’s important that the GPDA work closely with F1 when we get into discussions moving forwards,” the seven-time world champion said last year.
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F1’s mega-star fears a cap on retainers could also prove unfair in the future to the sport’s younger generation of drivers.
“I do think that the drivers here are, naturally, the stars of the sport,” said the Briton.
“They’re the ones that are seen, those are the ones that bring their brands and their reputation helps elevate the sport and help it travel globally around the world.
“There have been salary caps in some of those sports, I think like in NFL, basketball maybe.
“I think the one difference is that those places the individuals own their image in many areas, then they can try to maximise their image elsewhere. This sport controls, pretty much, the driver’s image.”
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