Toto Wolff calls for rule that will anger Lewis Hamilton

A $145mn budget cap was introduced for all teams in 2021.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested that Formula 1 might have to introduce a salary cap if the sport is to continue operating with a budget cap.

A $145m budget cap was introduced in 2021, which limits how much each team can spend each year, designed to stop the bigger teams buying their way to the title and blowing the smaller teams out of the water.

While Wolff has told reporters that he will sit down with Lewis Hamilton in the off season to discuss a new contract with the current highest paid driver, the Austrian does not see such high wages as sustainable with the new cap.

“We can see that we are facing a very difficult situation in F1 overall,” he said.

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“The sport is booming and F1 is earning more money and that trickles down to the teams. But we have a cost cap. We have $140m for 1000 people. With inflation, we haven’t been able to even pay the inflation.

“The talk about $30m or $40m salary allowance is inadequate when you take that perspective.

“You can’t simply have a salary bill in some of the top teams that is $30m, $40m, $50m when the rest of the team needs to be divided in $140,” he concluded.

The Mercedes boss has told the FIA to look at the USA’s sporting leagues for inspiration, with sporting organisations like the MLS and NBA operating a salary cap for a significant period of time now, to great success.

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It is a tough decision for the FIA to make because while F1 drivers are some of the best athletes on the planet, the sponsorship money involved in the sport brings in untold amounts of money which they deserve to be involved in.

“The American leagues that are the most successful in the world have introduced salary caps 15 years ago. It works pretty well over there,” explained Wolff.

“We need to find a way of how we can act sustainably and become independent from sovereign funds or state-owned teams.

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“They are tremendous superstars, they deserve to be among the top earners in the sport. In terms of direct salaries they already are.

“Then we need to find a way of unlocking the capability of doing endorsement deals which is two-thirds if not more for American sports teams. But certainly in direct salaries, F1 drivers are paid the most.”

The budget cap has faced teething issues in its first year, with Red Bull being found guilty of a minor overspend, so should a salary cap be introduced in the near future, it would have to be well explained and well policed to ensure its success.