Verstappen blasts ‘completely wrong’ driver salary cap

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen with the Red Bull branding behind him. Baku June 2022

Max Verstappen will not be supporting a salary cap for F1’s drivers, saying it is “completely wrong” as they “put their lives at risk”.

Two years ago Formula 1 introduced a budget cap of $145 million, that number falling to $140m for this year’s championship while next season it will drop a further $5m.

It, however, doesn’t include all the teams costs.

Two big numbers aren’t tallied in it are the team boss’ salary as well as that of the drivers.

As such Red Bull could offer Verstappen a mega millions deal when they re-signed him through to the end of 2028, his newest contract reportedly worth around $53.3 million per season.

His deal could be the last of the big buck contracts with some in the Formula 1 paddock saying the time has come to talk about a salary cap for the drivers.

Verstappen, despite being assured of his pay-out, say he is against the idea after all the drivers risk their lives race week after race week to make millions for Formula 1.

“It’s still all a bit vague as well, right?,” he said at the drivers’ press conference in Baku. “I think no one really knows where it’s going to go.

“But from my side, it’s completely wrong, because I think at the moment, F1 is becoming more and more popular, and everyone is making more and more money, including the teams and FOM. Everyone is benefiting.

“So why would the drivers with their IP rights and everything be capped, [the people] who actually bring the show and put their lives at risk? Because we do, eventually. So for me, it’s completely wrong.”

Max Verstappen sitting on the floor. Miami May 2022.

The reigning World Champion says it would also hurt investment in junior drivers and their potential of a return once they reach Formula 1.

“In all the junior categories, if you see how many of those drivers have a sponsor, or a backer, who eventually will have a certain percentage of their income in potentially F1 or whatever, I think it’s going to limit that a lot, because they will never get their return on money,” Verstappen  added.

“And if you get a cap it will hurt all the junior categories as well. And I don’t think you would want that.”

Last week Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen spoke out against a salary cap, telling De Telegraaf that it was “total idiocy”.

He continued: “Drivers increase the value of a team, and to then give whoever you buy that value from, the driver, a limit, it means the world is upside down.

“Take a look at the facts. A grand prix came to the Netherlands thanks to Max. Zandvoort pays an annual amount to FOM to organise the race, a large part of which is divided among the teams. So they benefit from that.

“It would then be very strange if you were to limit only the driver’s earnings model.”

He added that Red Bull do not support the idea and believe it would be “bad” for the sport.