Steiner feels F1 can learn from America on salary caps

Sam Cooper
Guenther Steiner walks into the paddock. Australia April 2022

Guenther Steiner said Formula 1 can learn from American sports as speculation over a drivers’ salary cap continues to rumble on.

With increased attention being paid to the finances of the sport, that focus has also turned to how much the drivers can earn.

While there is currently a limit of $140 million for the teams to operate under, the drivers’ salaries are not part of that and some have argued that is rightly so.

Max Verstappen said the idea was “‘completely wrong” while Fernando Alonso said that given the sport is asking more and more of them these days then the drivers are entitled to a limitless salary.

Steiner though, whose Haas team struggles with finances more than most, suggested that the sport should look to the likes of the NFL for guidance when it comes to a salary cap.

“I think there’s not a lot more to be added here,” Steiner said during a press conference before the Canadian Grand Prix. “I think where we can learn lessons from is American big league sports. There is a lot going on there and we just need to see how it is done there and learn from it.

“We don’t have to copy it but there is a lot being done and just looking at it for mid- to long-term, how this can be resolved so this lack of parity between the team budget and the drivers budget is not so big any more but obviously you will have always the problem that who is going to invest in a race car driver if he cannot make the money back. It’s very difficult to sort.”

 

For the 2022 season, NFL teams must keep under the $208.2 million salary cap and all major league sports in the country operate with a cap.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, whose team’s financial ability is at the other end of the scale to Haas, was sat alongside Steiner during the press conference and said that it should not just be the drivers involved in a hypothetical cap.

“By the way, one more point,” the Austrian said. “We shouldn’t [just] be including the top earners in the team. I think in order to make it sustainable, everyone should be covered by the cost cap and it’s [not] only the drivers but it’s also the team principals and the senior management.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto seemed to also be in agreement that it should be discussed but said that no one had yet provided a solution.

“It’s one of the points that needs to be discussed and looked at,” the 52-year-old said.

“Because we need to promote young generations and in order to promote young generations somehow the way it’s working today is having people that somehow are investing on drivers for a return later on

“So yes, it may have a knock-on effect. How to mitigate that in case we go for a salary cap I have not the solution to this, that’s why I think it’s a tricky one, so while I understand the point, while we understand the importance of it, I don’t think that anyone today has got a solution. If there will be a solution, again, I don’t know. We will take our time.”