Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has said a driver salary cap would be “completely wrong” and would “harm all junior categories as well”.
A proposal to introduce a $30 million salary cap for both drivers for the 2023 season has barely been discussed since it was claimed to have unanimous support from the team in 2020.
It is still under discussion although it now appears to be a long term goal.
One suggestion was that teams could go over the limit, but if they did, it would go outside their main budget cap, so they would have less to spend developing their cars and racing the season.
After winning his first world championship last year, Verstappen has signed a new long-term contract theoretically committing him to Red Bull until 2028 and earning him up to 50 million euros a year.
There was no explanation of how a driver salary cap would work for contracts that have already been agreed.
Asked by The Race about his opinion on the proposal and how it would work, Verstappen made it clear he was very much against it, but said it wasn’t just for selfish reasons.
“It’s still a little vague,” he said. “I mean, I don’t think anyone really knows where it’s going to go.
“But on my side, it is completely false. Because I think right now F1 is getting more and more popular, everyone is making more and more money, including the teams, FOM [Formula One Management]everyone benefits.
“So why should drivers, with their intellectual property rights and all, be capped?
“It’s the drivers who bring the show and put their lives on the line, because we do, ultimately.
“So, to me, it’s completely wrong. But it’s not just that.
“Across all the junior categories, if you see how many of these drivers have a sponsor or backing that will end up having a certain percentage of their income in Formula 1 or whatever – I think that’s going to limit that a lot.
“Because they’ll never get their money back if you get a cap.
“It will also harm all the junior categories. And I don’t think you want that.
Verstappen’s view has been backed by Lando Norris, another driver to sign a long-term contract this season – he keeps him at McLaren until the end of 2025.
“What he said is correct, especially with the investment in young drivers part,” Norris said.
“It’s hard enough to get into Formula 1. As soon as you have the backing, when you have an investor as your driver, obviously he wants his money back at some point, and you’re going to have to do that. .
“If it’s capped and so on, it’s a lot more difficult and people will be a lot less interested in investing in young drivers and investing in people who have a chance of getting into Formula 1 first. venue.
“That’s probably one of the main points.”
Unsurprisingly, various drivers object to the idea of their income being limited.
Sebastian Vettel indicated he disagreed with this while Fernando Alonso said it was not necessary.
And Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Mick Schumacher and George Russell have all expressed apparent agreement with the points made by Verstappen and Norris when asked by The Race at Baku.
“More than anything, is this the right thing to do these days?” Sainz said. “If you tell me that Formula 1 is in crisis because of COVID and the sport is going in the wrong direction, the drivers are earning too much for what the sport is generating, maybe I would tell you that there is a chance or a time when we can all agree that maybe there is something to be done.
“But when the sport is booming – you guys in Miami, you’ve seen the number of events, the number of things we’ve been doing, how busy we’ve been lately as racing drivers, and we we keep hearing that the championship is going to grow to 25 races…even 30 in the future…and now that the sport is booming, you want to crown us?
“I find it a very illogical idea at the moment, and an idea that makes very little sense for the current situation of the sport.
When it was first claimed that a salary cap would be introduced, it was recognized that more time was needed to work out the exact details of how it would work.
At the last race in Monaco, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said there was “no easy solution”.
Its main pilot Charles Leclerc currently has a current contract until the end of 2024.
There is also an idea to have salary caps for key personnel and a power unit development budget.
“It won’t be in the short term, the reason is that we already have contracts in place, and we can’t just break them,” Binotto said.
“There are legal implications, certainly in understanding how to do this, so it’s a discussion.
“It’s important, we understand that and we recognize that it will take time, but we will definitely go through the process.”
Bosses of smaller teams have indicated they will seek inspiration from other sports to find ways to implement the salary cap, which they clearly support.
“Other sports have implemented it and we should learn from that and take our time to make sure it can be controlled and we stick to the cap when it happens,” the manager said. Alpine team, Otmar Szafnauer.
“But that should be a next step and we shouldn’t rush it, but make sure we have good methods in place to be able to control it and that it’s also a fair cap.”
Alfa Romeo’s Frédéric Vasseur said: “It would be anyway, it will be a long process, you can’t imagine it will be in place for ’22 or ’23 – it has to be. at least for ’26, maybe a little more.
“But I’m not sure we’ll have the biggest problem with that.”