What Max Verstappen Thinks About The Controversial F1 Salary Cap

Reigning Formula One champion Max Verstappen believes that capping a driver's salary is "completely wrong". In 2021, Formula One introduced a budget cap, which limits team spending to $140 million with a few exceptions. Although driver salaries were not included in the cap, ongoing discussions reveal it may be on the table. 

In a Sky Sports report, Verstappen says, "But from my side, it's completely wrong because I think at the moment F1 is becoming more and more popular and everyone is making more and more money, including the teams, F1 [owners] — everyone is benefiting." In recent years, Formula One has been growing in popularity worldwide, with some attributing it to Netflix's ongoing documentary series "Formula One: Drive to Survive." Being one of the youngest and most sought-after talents in the business, Verstappen has been known to enjoy the fruits of his labor with limited edition cars and a private jet.

"So why should the drivers, with their IP rights and everything, be capped, who actually bring the show and put their lives at risk, because we do. So for me, it's completely wrong," said Verstappen. Given Formula One's history of tragedies, it's not surprising that its drivers hope to remain compensated well for the risk they take every single race.

How salary caps can affect junior motorsports drivers

According to Verstappen, salary caps don't just make sense for drivers, but also for junior drivers who rely on sponsorships to make ends meet early in their careers. Before becoming F1's youngest competitor in history, Verstappen drove in the FIA European Formula 3 under Van Amersfoort Racing as a junior driver. At the time, Verstappen was also sponsored by Jumbo, a large Dutch supermarket chain.

"In all the junior categories if you see how many of those drivers have a sponsor or a backer, who eventually will have a certain percentage of their income in potentially F1 or wherever," Verstappen says. The Sports Grail estimates that Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers are believed to earn $225 to $500 a day. In addition, junior drivers also pay for a seat to compete in the junior driver's championship. With a salary cap, Verstappen argues that the financial backers won't be able to make back their investment, which may lead to fewer junior drivers receiving support.