Renault keen for greater F1 driver salary control

Luke Smith

F1 teams are currently in discussions over increased cost control for the future following the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on a reduced budget cap of $145 million that is set to come into force next year.

The original budget cap proposal announced last October made a number of exclusions such as driver salaries, but some F1 team bosses were eager to see them included to prevent them spiralling.

Renault F1 managing director Abiteboul confirmed that discussions over driver salaries are part of the ongoing talks between the teams regarding cost control, which many are hopeful of resolving in the near future.

Abiteboul said that while there were added complexities due to the legal nature of individual driver contracts and the length of their deals, he felt it was important for F1’s future to get them under control in the budget cap era.

“It’s part of the debate, part of what’s on the table, [but has] an additional complexity of legality, because we need to make sure that it’s legal, in the sense that we need to make sure that it’s forceable,” Abiteboul said on Sky Sports F1.

“And also the extra complexity that you have some drivers that have already very long-term contracts - so congratulations to Max [Verstappen] in that respect.

“But I think if we need to make exceptions for systems that will be healthy, and important for the sustainability of the sport, I think we still need to do it.

“We should not have one given individual, one given situation, in your current case Max’s contract or Charles [Leclerc’s] contract with Ferrari, to block a process if it is a right process.

“We think bringing a bit of rationale on driver salary when a number of people will be laid off because of the budget cap would make sense.”

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Ricciardo is understood to be one of the highest-paid drivers on the grid, having left Red Bull for Renault at the end of 2018.

He will join McLaren next year, leaving a seat vacant at Renault alongside Esteban Ocon, who is signed until the end of 2021.