Max Verstappen insists the cap being proposed for the salaries of Formula 1 drivers is completely wrong, and might even affect drivers in junior categories.
F1 has been working on implementing budget caps for the teams that started in 2021 on $145-Million, reduced by an extra $5-Million in 2022, and will go further down to $135-Million in 2023.
That cap though excluded the salaries teams pay to their drivers, with some bagging astronomical figure for the driving services, with Max Verstappen for example earning in the region of €50-Million annually through his current contract with Red Bull that runs up to 2028.
The reigning F1 Champion was asked about the matter and he said: “It’s still all a bit vague as well, right? 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,” he added.
“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,” the Dutchman insisted.
Drivers in junior categories will be affected
Verstappen even claims that capping the drivers’ salaries will affect the chances of younger drivers in junior categories of attracting backers and sponsors.
“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,” he explained.
“And if you get a cap it will hurt all the junior categories as well. And I don’t think you would want that,” the Red Bull ace maintained.
Lando Norris agreed, and said: “I think what he [Verstappen] said is correct, and especially with the investment part into into young drivers.
“It’s difficult enough to get into F1 at all. So as soon as you have the backing, or you have an investor as a driver, they obviously want their money back at some point, and you’re going have to do that.
“If it gets capped, and so on, it’s much harder or it will interest people much less to ever invest into young drivers and invest into people having chances to get to F1 in the first place. So I think that’s one of the main points,” the Briton concluded.
Salary cap logic well merited but tricky to implement
Christian Horner – critical of the current budget cap the teams operate under – believes the logic behind the salary cap is “well merited” but the “application of it is tricky”, warning of “an accounting world championship”.
“There’s an awful lot of things that need tidying up within the existing cap that we have, that’s being rolled out to being an engine cap as well,” he said.
“There’s all kinds of complications with that, again, with companies’ reporting structures, etc. So, there are many, many complexities, but I think we need to go beyond that,” Horner explained.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto added: “We are discussing it and trying to understand what can be a solution.
“It will not be in the short term, the reason for that is we already have contracts in place, and we cannot simply breach them. There are legal implications, to understand how to do that, so it’s a discussion.
“It’s an important one, we understand it and we recognise it will take time, but certainly we will go through the process,” he highlighted.
A global budget cap as teams trade off driver skills with upgrades
Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer provided an interesting approach to the subject saying: “I’m in favour of adding that underneath a global cap so that the teams can trade off driver skill with updates, because ultimately both things bring performance on track.
“And I think for us to have the latitude to be able to trade that off is probably the right thing,” he claimed.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur suggested: “I think it’s the right approach to try to coordinate it with the budget [cap] and to have perhaps an allowance for this.
“You could overshoot the limit and you will have to take part of your budget cap, I don’t know. But we have to find something like this because it’s important for the sport,” he said.
As for McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl, he referred to other sports – such as Rugby and American football – where a salary cap is implemented to point out that there could be a “mechanism that could do the job” for F1.
“At the same time, I think it’s important now to simply keep continuing the discussions behind closed doors,” Seidl added.
“There’s no point to now in public discuss how could that all work. So let’s stay tuned,” he maintained.
The current budget cap all F1 teams run by currently a hot topic of discussions between bigger teams who want it to be be relaxed on grounds of extra costs due to worldwide inflation, while smaller outfits want it honored.
Throwing the cap on drivers’ salaries into the mix will make matter more interesting. Watch this space. (Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)