As Formula 1 debates including drivers’ salaries in the budget cap, team bosses have rubbished suggestions it could force superstar drivers to look elsewhere.
Next season Formula 1 will operate under a budget cap of $145 million. That, though, is by no means the teams’ only costs.
There are several exemptions to the cap, the biggest being drivers’ salaries.
Mercedes has the biggest salary budget with Lewis Hamilton on $40m per season and Valtteri Bottas earning $8m.
Next in line is Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel on $30m while Charles Leclerc earns a third of that.
But at a time when Formula 1 is desperately looking at ways to reduce the costs of competing in the sport while also levelling the playing field, some bosses would like to see drivers’ salaries included in the cap.
“I’m definitely in favour of including the driver salaries within the cap because it forces teams to make those decisions,” says Racing Point’s Otmar Szafnauer.
“Do you spend your money on a driver or do you take one that doesn’t cost you so much and spend it elsewhere on performance.
“I’m in favour of having the salaries within the budget cap.”
He added: “If that happens will the superstars go do something else? I believe that even having the driver salaries within the cap their salaries would still be higher than what they would get at other racing series.”
“I would tend to agree with Otmar,” said Williams deputy team boss Claire Williams.
“Drivers are performance differentiators and in order to get a much more equitable playing field in this sport, as the financial regulations are there to do, then I think it’s absolutely critical that anyone who is performance related should be part of that cost cap.
“I wholeheartedly agree with it.
“And again, as Otmar said, I think that the likelihood of drivers being discouraged from participating in our sport would probably be minimal, just simply because this is the highest echelon of motorsport and it’s a destination where drivers want to be racing.”
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner believes a cap would go some way towards levelling the playing field as teams are forced to decide between big-name, big-money drivers or spending that money on developing their cars.
“I have nothing against a driver cap or a driver salary cap, whatever you want to call it,” the Austrian explained.
“I don’t see a problem for us in it because we are so far off it, whatever it will be. So, I’m not pushing it or anything but I think at some stage it will be a good idea to put it in the budget cap, because it’s a performance differentiator.
“For sure, if you spend a lot of money on a driver then you cannot do other things. That should level the playing field even more and I think the salaries would adjust by themselves and they would end up lower than they are now.
“I’m not faced with the problem, to be high in salaries because we are not even at the budget cap, so in the end, any of these proposals, I will be OK with it, so long as the amount is within some reason.”