Are Formula One Drivers Right to Complain About the Cost of Super Licences?

Billy SextonAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2009

Some more breaking news has emerged about the situation regarding the amount of money Formula One drivers have to pay for their "super licenses" that allows them to race in the category.

Back in June, Max Mosely increased the price of the license from £1,354 plus £357 per point won to £7,858 plus £1,570 per point. That means Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, would have paid around £180,000 instead of £40,000 for his license and Rubens Barrichello would have paid just £7,858 seeing as he scored no points in 2007. Now that's a bonus of having a slow car.

Several driver's were furious back in June, Fernando Alonso included who said, "We should pay a reasonable price. It cannot change 1,000% in a year."

The latest update we have is that the price of the super license has gone up yet again. BBC report that the price is now £9,798 plus £1,978 per point scored meaning Hamilton and Massa have to cough up something around £200,000. There is also a £2,564 insurance cost which drivers have to pay.

For Lewis Hamilton, this means he is set to spend about £380,000 on a license in the past two seasons.

Drivers are reported to delay their payment, in the hope that the GPDA can compromise with the FIA and lower the cost a little.

But do the drivers really have an argument?

Top class drivers like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso are reported to be earning base salaries of around £15 million. On top of this they have all their sponsorship deals. Also, the fact they live in tax-haven Switzerland mean that the fee they have to pay for their license is a very small percentage. 1% in fact, if you say they earn £20 million a year. If the likes of these top drivers complain about the cost, then all I can say about them is that they are greedy.

Midfield drivers such as Jarno Trulli earns a base salary of £6 million plus, lets say £2 million sponsorship. Also, Trulli lives in his home country of Italy that has an income tax of 43% for high earners like Jarno. Once he's paid his £3.5 million income tax, Jarno is left with £4.5 million to play with. The cost of his license will be around £70,000, which is 1.5% of his £4.5 million. The money Jarno has left over is certainly substantial enough to support his family. Again, if he complains, I will see him as greedy also.

Drivers at the back end of the grid like Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima have a base salary of around £1 million plus around £500k sponsorship. The cost of his license will be just below £30,000, that's about 2% of his earnings.

From my calculations we can see that no driver, no matter what car they drive and how many sponsors they have, can really complain about the cost of the super license. The FIA put the money toward improving safety in the sport, so for Robert Kubica to lash out at the costs after what happened to him in Montreal 2007 shows that he too is greedy. Or maybe he wants a little more dollar to play poker with.