It has been predicted that Formula 1 drivers may end up being paid even more than they are currently as a result of Liberty Media enforcing a budget cap on teams.
Teams will not be able to spend more than $175million on “performance-related” costs from 2021 and beyond, with F1 chiefs warning that stepping over the mark could cost teams their championship ambitions.
However, among the expenditure not covered by the spending limit includes the amount drivers are paid a year.
Lewis Hamilton is the best-paid driver on the grid, with his current Mercedes deal reportedly worth £40million ($52m) a year, but Red Bull motorsport advisor expects that record-breaking figure to be dwarfed in years to come.
“When the cars get more alike, the drivers will be the most important factor again,” Marko said.
“Drivers like Hamilton, [Max] Verstappen and [Charles] Leclerc will benefit. If they disagree, they can blackmail the teams and it can quickly cost you $50 million.
“It was a mistake to not put the driver salaries into the budget cap.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown agreed with Marko and says that omitting driver salaries from the budget cap goes against the principal of bringing in the measure in the first place.
Brown said: “It was a mistake to take the drivers out.
“Along with the car, they are a factor that determines the lap time. If they were part of the budget, the teams would have to decide to invest their money in the driver or the car.
“That’s the point of a budget cap. The prize is for the one who uses their money the most sensibly.”