As the F1 season nears its conclusion, a championship winner will be declared and the celebrations can begin.
Winning in F1 comes with massive reward. The exposure, positive association and press coverage are worth a fortune to the team owner and sponsors but at most teams success also brings reward in the form of win bonuses for the employees. In a good season, these win bonuses can amount to many thousands of dollars and huge percentages of an employee’s salary. Everyone shares in success making winning an even more attractive goal from for the whole team. But how do they work?
The substantial £10,000 bonus paid to each member of the Mercedes GP team this year for winning the constructor’s championship was widely reported by the press having been leaked out by ecstatic team members. Such reward seems very lavish but Mercedes as a car company clearly felt that they stood to gain substantially more than this in car sales as a result of that success and so were happy to hand out the reward as a thank you gift for their tirelessly hard working staff. The payment was made equally from Technical Director to cleaners and van drivers which showed great values from the parent company and management.
It didn’t stop there however. Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (MAHPP) might be a separate company, producing the immensely successful hybrid power units that propelled the Mercedes cars to that championship but the same parent company was paying the bills and also their win bonus too. From what I understand, MAHPP employees did not get the same championship bonus as their car constructor colleagues but got a win & podium related bonus on a race by race basis. Not only do they get that bonus for the factory Mercedes cars but they also get it for the Mercedes customer teams of Williams, McLaren and Force India. When you consider how good a season Williams in particular are having, that means that employees of MAHPP have been getting bonuses for 1st, 2nd & 3rd in many of the races in the second half of the season. I don’t know the numbers but I’ll bet its no small addition to their annual salary.
This big win bonus culture is typical amongst the big teams. The figure of £10,000 was also paid to Red Bull for their recent championship wins as I understand which probably helped new car sales in the Milton Keynes area substantially over the last 3 to 4 years!
Every team has some kind of bonus or points incentive, its a good way of letting the employees share in the spoils and also motivating them to push the team forward. For the back marker teams, just a handful of points is a massive bonus and would probably bring a decent reward for the working people in those outfits. Whilst every team owner would dearly love to score a massive haul of points, they have to be careful because a generous points bonus scheme dreamt up when the team was unlikely to score more than a handful of points in the whole year can severely back fire if the team’s performance suddenly takes a significant step upwards. He or she may find themselves paying out dearly as the Williams team have done this year when years of dismal poor performance suddenly changes to regular podium places and 2 car points finishes. It will probably be a very good Christmas for the children of Williams engineers and mechanics this season!
We know that salaries are very good in F1 already but the existence of these bonus schemes means that a successful season can mean significant extra reward for everyone. The extra incentive and feeling of involvement and sharing in the spoils is a very powerful thing and greatly adds to the motivation and energy that a workforce can put into the team’s efforts.
Money might be tight at the lower end of the grid but in true capitalist and winner takes all style, the rewards are higher than ever.
F1 has been in the general media a great deal in the past few week and not for particularly good reasons. The accident that befell Jules Bianchi at Suzuka has cast a shadow over the whole industry and has taken away some of the enjoyment that we all get from racing. The news of Marussia and Caterham going into administration and possible money problems at other midfield teams has only served to further dampen the spirits but we continue to have some great races and the buzzing event we’ve just had in Austin was a real boost to the paddock. Hopefully a close and exciting finale to the driver’s championship will bring further positive headlines and give us all something good to take into the long winter period.
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