The football world has been rocked this week by the departure of Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona. With proposed limits on salaries, the situation could potentially be a preview for Formula One.
Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona seemed to be a partnership that would go on forever, but that came to an end this week. With the football club unable to meet financial regulations if they offered him a new deal the club and one of the greatest of all time have parted ways.
The reason that the club can no longer pay its star player is the new salary limits that now apply in the La Liga. There is also talk of a cap on salaries for drivers in Formula 1, after a cap was introduced on spending by Formula 1 teams this year. The limit will reportedly be 30 million euros per year for both drivers, which some drivers are reportedly already exceeding. So could the salary cap in F1 have the same effect as Barcelona and Messi?
Valentin Khorounzhiy from The Race doesn’t think it will come to that. Between F1 and the Messi situation there are a few key differences. “The limit in Formula 1 will be fixed on paper, while the limit in the La Liga is linked to the club’s income. The coronavirus has had a lot of influence on that, in addition to FC Barcelona’s excessive spending in recent years.”
No more star teams in F1?
The size of the teams also means that the salary cap will cause a lot less headaches in Formula 1. Teams will only have to take two drivers into account, instead of a team and a bench of players. The new rules may just prevent super teams, though. “The concept of a superteam as with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost was already no longer very much in vogue with modern top teams, but it would now become completely unaffordable.”
In addition, the limit could become mainly detrimental to the ‘number two’ drivers. If a top team wants to keep a driver like Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton, there is very little left in terms of salary for the other driver. Unlike football clubs and leagues, Formula 1 does not have to fear competing race series. Drivers are less likely to switch to for example Indy Car for a better salary. The Messi situation is however a good reason for the FIA, Liberty Media and the teams to think twice about the salary cap.