In the last few days rumours surfaced that Mercedes was unwilling to meet Lewis Hamilton’s £40 million per year salary demands. We decided not to run the story as it seemed unsubstantiated and it was later dismissed by Hamilton himslef. Now Toto Wolff also says the rumour in completely false.
“All the things that are out there about contract negotiations, whether him demanding a hilariously high salary or me saying it’s only 50% of that, they are all made up,” said Wolff.
“We haven’t had a single conversation about money. It’s sometimes weird to read this stuff in the press when you know it’s just total nonsense.
“Lewis is very aware of the financial realities of the auto industry and about Formula 1, and in the same way, I’m very respectful of his achievements and his class.”
Formula 1 will introduce a new $145 million per year budget cap from 2021, but the cap will exclude driver salaries. However, teams have been discussing the possibility of introducing a salary cap in the future.
“The salary cap is something that we have supported, I believe [in a] similar [way] to the leagues in the US,” continued Wolff.
“If you cap the team at $145 million with a downward slope, you need at a certain stage to also cap high salaries. But I don’t think we should lose the superstars of today.
“We have said we don’t want to lose the superstars out of this sport, so it needs to be a gradual introduction from 2024 onwards so that the future generations of drivers end up on a more sensible level, considering that we have a cost cap on the team.
“I think it would be good for the sport. They need to be inspirational, the drivers, and as you can see in the US, the top football players and the top basketball players are still very inspirational.
“High salaries are what they deserve, because they are global superstars and they are the best of their league.
“It should not end up in a ratio, salary of an individual compared to the team cap, that over certain time is going to create controversy that is not needed,” concluded the Austrian.