Driver salaries in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship are causing concern among some teams and manufacturers after an increase in some recent contracts.
The all-electric championship has seen the remuneration of some of its star drivers escalate significantly in the last two seasons.
E-racing365 understands that a small group of the series’ top drivers are currently earning between €1 million ($1.13 million) and €1.6 million ($1.81 million) per season.
This doesn’t include personal endorsements which most drivers are allowed to some degree within their contracts.
While these figures are conservative compared to Formula 1 and NASCAR earnings, it puts the top Formula E drivers now on an even earning potential to some current and established IndyCar drivers, not including prize money bonuses.
Formula E has always prided itself on its cost-efficient ethos but recent speculation on the earnings of some drivers is believed to have caused concern.
Head of Audi Sport Dieter Gass thinks that any drivers that are paid premium rates have largely earned their value because of the specialist nature of competing at the top in Formula E.
“At the end of the day, Formula E is a championship where the driver does make a difference,” Gass told e-racing365.
“You pay for what you want to have and what you want to achieve. If the best driver is worth the money to win, you’re going to pay it.”
Gass conceded that issues could arise should Formula E continue to grow at the same rate it has over its first five years of existence.
“I do see potential issues ahead though because it is still growing but growing quickly,” he said.
“Is it going to be too high? We need to wait, I think. It’s too early days to say that.”
Panasonic Jaguar Racing team principal and Formula E Teams & Manufacturers Association chairman James Barclay says that Formula E’s cost-effective ethos could be tested by escalating driver salaries.
“Everyone is fully aware that it is something that we need to be careful doesn’t get out of kilter with the championship’s structure,” Barclay told e-racing365.
“Things have to move at the right pace so it could be a concern from that point of view yes. We have to look at the long-term health of this championship in all areas.”
Driver Market “More Complex”
Formula E’s unique December-to-July season gives it an added complexity when it comes to contract negotiations, explained Gass.
By the time a Formula E team has to conclude a contract with a driver, other championships are usually yet to reveal their race calendar for the next year.
“On one hand, there’s as well the risk that it will be more difficult for drivers to do two championships in parallel, because you cannot commit,” said Gass.
“You risk as well to potentially close doors in another championship because we have to commit very early to Formula E.
“For sure the driver market has become a lot more complex now.”