Formula One’s Highest Paid Drivers

May 20, 2021
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Sports stars have never been better paid than they are in 2021. However, one sport that stands out more than most is Formula 1. Set up back in 1950, it is the highest class of international auto racing on the planet.

Bets on for 2021

Currently in its 72nd season, we are only a few races in, but it already looks like Lewis Hamilton stands a great chance of claiming a record fifth straight title. F1 betting odds show Hamilton as the strong favourite to win, with odds of 1.25/1.

If Hamilton does secure another title he will add another huge winners cheque to his already sizable career winnings. Have you ever wondered how much an F1 driver actually earns? So have we. That is why we conducted some research into the matter. Our findings are below.

Lewis Hamilton

We begin our foray into the mega rich world of F1 driver salaries with Lewis Hamilton, widely considered one of the greatest British sportsmen of all time.

Hamilton made his F1 debut back in 2007 and it did not take him long to make an impact on the grandest stage. He finished on the podium in 12 out of 17 Grand Prixs, winning four and narrowly losing out in the Driver Championships to Kimi Raikkonen by a single point.

The following season he would get the job done, winning five races and securing his maiden F1 Championship in dramatic fashion. Going into the final race only him or Felipe Massa could secure the crown and Hamilton’s dramatic overtake on the final corner of the final race was decisive.

This victory catapulted Hamilton onto the global scene with several lucrative sponsorship deals falling on his lap. Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy, Puma, Sony, Bose and Bell Helmets are just some of the brands that have penned deals with him in the past. This, combined with his hefty basic salary, have made him a multimillionaire.

However, on the track it would take him six more seasons before he won another title, and he would need to switch teams from McLaren to Mercedes in order to do it. Since 2014 Hamilton has completely dominated the sport, winning seven of the last eight F1 Championships. Unsurprisingly then, Hamilton is the highest earning driver in the sport by some distance.

His exact salary is subject to some disagreement, though. In some quarters it was reported that he had taken a pay cut for the 2021 final, meaning he will earn $30m (£21.3m). Other outlets have estimated that his wage is as much as double that figure. Regardless of how much he makes exactly, he is without question F1’s top earner and few could argue that he does not deserve it.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen became F1’s youngest ever driver in 2015 when he competed in the Australian Grand Prix, at just 17 years old. The Belgium born Dutchman has broken many other records since then as well. The son of former F1 driver Jos, Verstappen started out his career at Toro Rosso and after a few encouraging but ultimately unsuccessful races, he moved to Red Bull partway through the 2016 campaign.

His move would pay off in a big way at the Spanish Grand Prix later that year. In what was his very first race for Red Bull, he managed to finish first – becoming F1’s youngest ever race winner in the process.

Since then, Verstappen has slowly been working his way up the Driver rankings, finishing on the podium in each of the last two seasons. Many are tipping him to do the business this time out and Red Bull will be hoping he does as they have invested a lot of money in him. It is estimated that Verstappen will earn a whopping $25m (£17.8m) this season.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso has been a stalwart of F1 for two decades and he remains one of the most popular drivers on the circuit.

Making his debut all the way back in 2001, the Brazilian did not manage to accrue a single point during his first season. However, since then things have got a lot better for Alonso. In 2005 he drove exceptionally well, becoming one of the youngest F1 Championship winners and he repeated the trick the following year.

He has secured several 2nd place finishes in the 2010,s before winding down towards the end of his career. He remains well paid, though, with reports suggesting he should earn as much as $20m (£14.2m) during the 2021 campaign.

Sebastian Vettel

During the early 2010s Sebastian Vettel was the dominant force in F1. His first race came in 2007 for Toro Rosso but his career really took off when he left for Red Bull in 2009. In his maiden season for his new team, he finished second in the Drivers Championships, winning his first F1 title one year later.

This was followed by three further wins in as many years before his victorious streak finally ended in 2014. Since then, Vettel has remained in and around the championship picture — until last season that is when he finished 13th.

Despite his poor showing, the German remains extremely well paid. He is estimated to earn around $15m (£10.7m) during the 2021 season, even though few expect him to mount a serious challenge for the championship.