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By John Floyd

Motorsport columnist

FLOYD ON F1: Drivers’ salaries under the microscope

Toto Wolff suggests F1 bosses look at the American sports model to make sure drivers earn what they are worth.

Abu Dhabi once again hosted the end of the F1 season, with a solid victory going to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – his 15th win of the year, and certainly a less controversial result than the 2021 finale.

Certain sectors of the F1 world appear determined never to forget last year’s Yas Marina season closer, and sadly, to carry the “conspiracy” theory in their hearts and minds forever.

So, for many, the early incident between Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was a case of déjà vu.

On the first lap, the Spaniard took the inside line into turn six, getting ahead of Hamilton, who, in an attempt to hold him off, ended up off track, launching the W13 into the air, but returning ahead of Sainz.

F1 race control indicated they were investigating car 44 (Hamilton) being forced off the track by car 55 (Sainz), but soon this changed to an off-track advantage being gained by car 44.

It was not long before the Englishman relinquished his position to Sainz, who was heard commenting over the team radio that Hamilton had gone in too deep, and then saying: “Super aggressive; he did exactly the same last year with Verstappen.”

An interesting observation, but fortunately, this year’s action went no further.

Toto cries Wolff

I recently read Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff had once again raised bringing drivers’ salaries into the cost cap equation.

In an interview with The Sun, he was quoted as saying: “It certainly has come up as a controversial topic, we can see we are facing a very difficult situation in F1 overall.

“The sport is booming, F1 is earning more money and that trickles down to the teams.

“But we have a cost cap,” he continued.

“We have $140 million [about R2.4 billion] for 1 000 people… we haven’t been able to even pay the inflation. The talk about a $30 million or $40 million salary allowance is inadequate when you take that perspective.

“Clearly the drivers will have an opinion … maybe as a driver I would say the same thing.”

ALSO READ: FLOYD ON F1: Sport in danger of becoming too sanitised

Reward the F1 superstars

Citing the American sports leagues, Wolff said: “The US American leagues that are the most successful in the world introduced salary caps 15 years ago. It works pretty well over there.

“You can’t simply have a salary bill at some of the top teams that is 30, 40, 50 million when the rest of the team needs to be divided into $140 million.

“But having said that, they are tremendous superstars, they deserve to be among the top earners in the sport.

“In terms of direct salaries, they already are. We need to find a way of unlocking the capability of doing endorsement deals, which is two-thirds, if not more, for US American sports teams.”

When first mooted, it was not well received by the F1 drivers.

One has to wonder if seven-time world champion Hamilton will reconsider his future plans with the German F1 team if such measures are adopted, perhaps a good reason for an earlier than expected retirement?