Lewis Hamilton to speak with F1 bosses over potential salary cap for drivers

Lewis Hamilton says he will speak to Formula One bosses about the prospect of a salary cap which would dent the six-time world champion’s future earnings.

In a meeting of the F1 Commission earlier this week, all 10 team principals, including Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, agreed to splitting both drivers’ wages within the same team to no more than £22million-a-year from 2023.

Hamilton, who is out of contract with Mercedes next month, currently earns in the region of £40million. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen are also understood to earn north of the tabled figure.

Hamilton is believed to earn around £40million per year at Mercedes
Hamilton is believed to earn around £40million per year at Mercedes

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Hamilton said he first heard rumblings of the proposed limit to drivers’ pay packets at last summer’s race in France.

“From a driver’s point of view it is a surprise,” said Hamilton. “It is important that the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) work closely with Formula One and get into discussions of how we move forward.”

The concept is subject to ratification but falls into line with the sport’s vision of drastically reducing costs.

Next season a budget cap will be introduced where teams must spend no more than $145million (£112m). This will reduce to $140m (£108m) in 2022 and $135m (£105m) in 2023. Mercedes and Ferrari currently both operate at costs in excess of £300m a year.

“The discussion around capped driver salaries is a very emotional thing,” said Wolff. “In order to be sustainable and attractive, Formula One teams need to show profitability like any other company out there.

“But Formula One drivers are the best drivers in the world and they should earn high salaries like all the other sporting stars.

“It would be interesting to sit on the table with the representatives of the drivers, and the drivers themselves and discuss how can we align ourselves so everybody benefits from long-term growth without harming future earnings for the drivers.”

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Rolling with my dawg

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Hamilton will contest Formula One’s first race in Imola for 14 years on Sunday, as the sport stages a one-off event in this Covid-disturbed schedule.

Hamilton, who holds a 77-point lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the standings as he closes in on a record-equalling seventh world title, has never raced an F1 car around a track synonymous with the death of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna in 1994.

“In one way, it is heart-warming to know that I am here doing what Ayrton loved doing 26 years ago, but it is a harsh reminder of that day, too.

“I was karting at Rye House in Hertfordshire. My dad had a red Vauxhall Cavalier and we had a white box trailer with a gas heater.

Three-time world champion Ayrton Senna died at Imola on May 1, 1994
Three-time world champion Ayrton Senna died at Imola on May 1, 1994

“I was helping my dad fix the kart, tightening the bolts up on the rear wheel, and I don’t know how he got the news, but someone told him Ayrton had died.

“I remember walking away from my dad because my dad would never let me cry in front of him. I had to go to a different place.

“I tried to channel that sadness into my driving and I think I won that weekend but the following weeks were very tough.”