Lewis Hamilton calls in his ‘union’ over proposed salary cut as six-time world champion seeks new £40m-a-year deal to re-sign with Mercedes
- A £22m split between each team’s two drivers could be introduced from 2023
- Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has supported the radical proposal
- It comes as Brit is seeking an increase on his £35m a year deal to re-sign
Lewis Hamilton has called on the drivers’ ‘trade union’ to scrutinise plans that would drastically cut the earning power of the sport’s biggest stars.
Sportsmail revealed this week that all the teams gave their approval to the radical proposal at a meeting of the Formula One Commission, with even Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff supporting the idea.
Hamilton earns some £35million a year and stands to be potentially hardest hit if the restriction — that could see £22m split between each team’s two drivers — ends up becoming a regulation from 2023.
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has called in his ‘union’ over proposed salary cut
It is particularly sensitive timing for the six-time world champion because, with his contract due for renewal at the end of the season, he is in negotiations over an improved deal.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s race at Imola, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton said: ‘It was the first we heard of it this week. I didn’t know a cap was being discussed. From a driver’s point of view it is a surprise.
‘It is important that the GPDA (the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) work closely with Formula One on how we move forward.’
Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff (left) has supported the radical salary proposal
The GPDA — dubbed the richest trade union in the world — has at least two others members who currently earn more than the intended cap — Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (once the Dutchman’s bonuses are added).
Hamilton is seeking a hike to £40m a year to re-sign. And the Briton might now look to negotiate a much longer contract in order get his future salary laid down in black and white before any restriction comes in.
Mercedes team principal Wolff said: ‘The discussion around this topic is a very emotional thing. Formula One teams need to show profitability like any other company out there.
‘We all need to achieve that, but drivers — and the ones in Formula One are the best in the world — should earn high salaries like all the other sporting stars.’
Hamilton (centre) rides a scooter round the track at Emilia Romagna in Imola, Italy
Before all the salary discussion comes this emotional weekend for Hamilton, contesting his first Formula One race on the track where his hero Ayrton Senna died at Tamburello curve during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.
The reigning world champion walked the track — including passing a statue of Senna — because he could not drive it, with practice pushed back a day to accommodate the sport’s hectic schedule. Fog is expected this morning so that might leave even less preparation time for qualifying later today.
Hamilton, who holds a 77-point lead over Valtteri Bottas going into the fifth-last race of the campaign chasing a seventh title, said: ‘It is very surreal when you go to places, driving through the tunnel at Monaco or at the British Grand Prix, where you know the greats have driven. Just as it felt for me earlier, when I was in an area where Ayrton drove 26 years ago, doing what he loved just as I do. In one way, that is heart-warming to know.
‘I was racing at Rye House in karting when I heard he had died. Someone told dad and I remember walking away, behind his red Vauxhall Cavalier, because he would never let me cry in front of him.’