Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has demanded that Zhou Guanyu’s Silverstone smash puts an end to plans to cap F1 drivers’ pay. Zhou remarkably escaped unscathed from his dramatic 160mph crash at the British Grand Prix but it served as a chilling reminder of the dangers of the sport.
Perez, who finished runner-up behind Ferrari race winner Carlos Sainz, feels the risks he and the rest of the grid take every time they race mean there should be no ceiling on their rewards.
“When you hear people talking about putting a cap on the drivers’ salaries, we are the ones putting all the risk out there, giving a show so I don’t think it’s a good thing to be talking about that in the sport moving forwards,” said Perez.
“I knew there was an accident, but I was back in the garage and I was looking at the TV and they showed the accident and I was shocked. It’s hard to see that and to try to delete it from your mind and try to focus on what you have to do.”
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Perez’s contract is worth £6m per year plus £2.6m in bonuses, earnings which are currently excluded from the team’s £115m per year spending cap. However discussions started two months ago between the teams, F1 and the FIA on bringing driver salaries inside the cap – a move which would have an automatic deflationary effect.
World champion Max Verstappen, who along with Lewis Hamilton tops the F1 earners list at £40m per season, has voiced his strong opposition to any cap. “I think at the moment, F1 is becoming more and more popular,” said Verstappen recently.
“Everyone is benefitting, so why should the drivers, with their IP rights and everything, be capped? We actually bring the show and put our lives at risk so for me, it’s completely wrong.” Red Bull boss Christian Horner has welcomed the proposal although he admitted that it would be hard to implement. “The principle of a cap is well merited,” said Horner.
“I think the application of it is tricky and we are seeing and experiencing that at the moment.” The pay and prestige for the stars of F1 are huge but Zhou’s accident graphically illustrated the flip side.
“It was a big crash and I’m glad I’m OK,” said Zhou. “The marshals and the medical team at the track were fantastic with their quick response, and I also owe my thanks to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done, and they keep doing, to improve the safety of our cars.”
Whether Zhou races at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix remains to be seen but Alex Albon, who was involved in a separate shunt at Silverstone which required a visit to Coventry Hospital for precautionary checks, has confirmed he will be back behind the wheel immediately. “Eyes already on Austria,” he tweeted.