30 million: Portimao summit adopts upper limit for driver salaries

(Motorsport-Total.com) – Formula 1 brought a new proposal to the table at its future summit on Monday in Portimao, which could have immediate effects for superstar Lewis Hamilton. Because driver salaries are to be capped at a maximum of 30 million US dollars (around 25 million euros) per year from the 2023 season.

Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff are negotiating a new contract

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According to information from ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, the 30 million include the salaries of both drivers, so that, for example, both could earn 15 million or one 25 and the teammate five. With the current top fees in Formula 1 – Hamilton is said to earn more than $ 40 million – that could be a significant cut.

The decision-makers in Formula 1 also discussed the idea of ​​limiting the salaries of the three best-paid employees in addition to the drivers. That could mean financial deterioration for one or the other team boss or technical director. The currently highest-paid Formula 1 team boss received a salary of $ nine million in 2019.

In theory, a team is allowed to pay its drivers or managers more than the fee caps provide. Then the difference to the 30 million dollars will be deducted from the total budget ceiling (2023: 135 million dollars). Calculation example: If Hamilton / Bottas together earn 45 million in 2023, the Mercedes cap will drop to 120 million.

Resolving the proposal is just a formality

The proposal was supported by all the team bosses present at the summit and now has to be fine-tuned and ultimately ratified by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council. A race against time could begin for Hamilton. If he wants to stay with Mercedes in the long term, he now has to sign quickly in order to bypass the fee cap.

Because even if those responsible were to adopt the rule for 2023 and beyond, existing contracts that have already been signed cannot be touched for labor law reasons. In other words: Should Hamilton now sign a new three-year contract with a higher fee, the wage ceiling will not affect him from 2023.


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According to reports, an agreement between the six-time world champion and Mercedes should be imminent. Daimler CEO Ola Källenius was at the Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. There, it is said, the topic should have been discussed. How the talks went is not known.

In this process, two different interests are currently colliding. The Daimler Group sees itself exposed to economic realities such as the corona crisis and is currently implementing a billion-dollar savings program. A new record pay for Hamilton would be difficult to communicate on a symbolic level.

Hamilton: Market value has risen further since the last contract

On the other hand, Hamilton’s market value is higher than ever. The 35-year-old is currently becoming the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, is driving at the height of his work and is also making a name for himself as a global superstar, as the most followed driver on social media, with his social commitment and the singing career that is just beginning.

Confronted with this assessment by ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, he speaks of a “very good question”. Hamilton puts the argument that the Daimler Group cannot afford to continue to pay him a salary in the future that corresponds to its increasing market value. To argue “that there are companies that are suffering in these times” is only “short-term”.


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“I think Mercedes is on the way back. They are in a much better position,” said Hamilton. “Of course everyone has suffered this year. But we have a bright future ahead of us. There will be some changes. Ola has presented a new plan for how Mercedes will advance in terms of sustainability and the development of cars in the direction of electromobility.”

“The same goes for AMG. I think the future is positive. Those are of course all things we will talk about. But I think I have earned the right so far, or have put myself in a position to stay for quite a while Time will tell. I can’t say much more. Hopefully you’ll hear something in the next few months. “

He has “not yet made a decision,” says Hamilton, but at the same time he is one hundred percent committed to Mercedes: “I want to stay. I haven’t spoken to anyone else, and I don’t plan to. At some point, Toto and I will sit down and work out, how we proceed.”

Because of the corona virus: No meeting in Monaco

According to Wolff, the fact that this has not yet taken place is due to the coronavirus pandemic: “I was in Monaco last week,” said the Mercedes team boss in Portimao, “but we have agreed not to meet. The worst that will happen could be that I bring Corona into the meeting. We just haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and meet. “


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“Lewis and I live like hermits, and our team is particularly disciplined in dealing with the virus,” says Wolff, listing examples: “We have organized eleven additional cars for our employees, or we do not allow them to have more than two go out to eat together. And the seven or eight systemically important people are not allowed to do anything with each other. “

Everything could have been clear even before the corona crisis: “I think it was in Hungary last year that Toto talked about signing the contract for the first time,” says Hamilton with a smile. “We didn’t have a pandemic then. In retrospect, I might have signed it!”

“Usually we plan three-year periods. But we are in a different time right now. It is also a question of whether I want to continue for three years. There are many questions that have yet to be answered. And in 2022 we are starting a new era with a new one Car. I think that’s exciting: what will happen in 2022, how the cars will be. “

Wolff excludes one-year contract for 2021

Wolff wants the subject off the table quickly. He ruled out taking over the existing contract for just one year to gain time: “I think we should do that this year. I don’t want to negotiate again next year, but we should concentrate on our jobs: Lewis on Driving, me on leading the team and Ola on the big picture. “


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Wolff is aware of Hamilton’s increased market value: “It’s huge. We have to sell some equipment, sell our buildings and rent them back (a swipe at McLaren; editor’s note) and somehow scrape together the money,” he laughs in an interview with British TV colleagues from ‘Sky’.

In July, Wolff had therefore already admitted to a possible wage cap for the drivers: “This is something that we have always supported. Just like in the US professional leagues. When we as teams cap our budgets with 145 million, and that in the reduce it further in the next few years, then at some point we will also have to cap drivers’ salaries. “

At the same time, they do not want to chase superstars like Hamilton out of Formula 1, which is why Wolff originally advocated a phased introduction of the driver cap. “So that the future generations of drivers land at a reasonable level again,” as he says. “That’s my opinion. I think that would be good for the sport.”

“We see in the US that the best football and basketball players are still very inspiring figures,” said Wolff. “They earn high salaries because they are global superstars, the best in their leagues. But we should be careful that the ratio of driver salaries in relation to the overall budget of the teams does not get out of hand.”

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