Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has indicated that Formula 1 could learn a thing or two from the American spending model amid the ongoing conversation as to whether drivers’ salaries should be capped.
In the NFL, for example, the total spend on player salaries and bonuses for each team was set at $238.2 million in 2020, and this is for a squad stacked with immense talent.
Sir Lewis Hamilton earns $40 million with Mercedes, while Max Verstappen’s new contract with Red Bull, which begins in 2024, is expected to see him earn $50 million a year.
In general, the drivers have disagreed that there should be a limit on how much they are paid, but Steiner warns that team bosses will no longer be willing to fork out on expensive drivers if their salaries continue to rise.
“I think there’s not a lot more to be added here,” he said ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.
“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 anymore 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.”
In the English Rugby Premiership, teams are allowed to spend £5 million a year on players, but this does not extend to all senior personnel at the club – the Italian believes it would have to in the pinnacle of motorsport.
“By the way, one more point,” added Steiner.
“We shouldn’t [only] 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.”
To elaborate on the drivers that disagree with the idea, Max Verstappen described the proposed cap as “completely wrong.”
“I think no one really knows where it is going to go but from my side, it’s completely wrong,” he said.
“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 [Formula One Management].
“Everyone is benefitting, so why should the drivers, with their IP rights and everything, be capped?
“We actually bring the show and put our lives at risk, because we do, eventually. So for me, it’s completely wrong.”