Toto Wolff wants Hamilton and Verstappen salaries capped in ‘inadequate’ claim
Hamilton and Verstappen are F1’s highest paid drivers with salaries around £32.5m each, but could find their future earning potential more restricted if a salary cap were to be introduced
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Toto Wolff believes a salary cap for Formula 1 drivers must come in under what Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen currently earn, as anything less restrictive would be “inadequate”.
The possible introduction of a cap for driver salaries has been a big talking point in recent days after several drivers came out in opposition to the proposal. Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Verstappen are among those who have explained why they think it could be detrimental to the sport.
But the idea has been around for a few years, and appears to be the next step after budget cap for teams which was introduced this season. The timing of its implementation and what the cap would be remain a mystery, but Mercedes chief Wolff would be keen for it to be below what the sport’s top earners currently take home each season.
The Austrian believes that a £30m salary cap would not be enough, as it would not help the sport in its goal for teams to be more sustainable going forward. “It certainly has come up as a controversial topic,” Wolff said. “We can see that we are facing a very difficult situation in F1 overall. The sport is booming and F1 is earning more money and that trickles down to the teams.
“But we have a cost cap. We have $140 million for 1,000 people. With inflation, we haven’t been able to even pay the inflation. I think the talk about 30 or 40 million dollar salary allowance is inadequate when you take that perspective.
“Clearly the drivers will have an opinion on that. Maybe as a driver I would say the same thing but the American leagues that are the most successful in the world have introduced salary caps 15 years ago. It works pretty well over there.
“F1 is looking at it without an immediate solution to it, but like all the other sports in the world we need to find a way of how we can act sustainably and become independent from sovereign funds or state-owned teams. Therefore it is certainly clear that this is going to be one of the main areas because you can’t simply have a salary bill in some of the top teams that is 30, 40, 50 million when the rest of the team needs to be divided in 140 million.
“But having said that, they are tremendous superstars, they deserve to be among the top earners in the sport. In terms of direct salaries they already are and then we need to find a way of unlocking the capability of doing endorsement deals which is two-thirds if not more for American sports teams. But certainly, direct salaries, F1 drivers are paid the most.”
The Austrian, who clearly sees the benefit in a salary cap, does not want the idea to stop just with the drivers. He went on to suggest that even his own earning potential should be limited, as well as other top roles within teams.
“We shouldn’t be excluding the top earners in the team,” Wolff added. “In order to make it sustainable everyone should be covered by the cost cap and it’s not only the drivers, it’s also the team principals and the senior management.”