Formula 1 drivers are super athletes. They’re also superstar celebrities, many with their own personal brands, with massive worldwide followings. These drivers earn a lot of money for what they do, but many fans make wonder exactly how much F1 drivers make.
Most Formula 1 drivers make over one million dollars per year. However, there are major extremes in the salary ranges between drivers, with some earning less than one million dollars and some earning upwards of $40 million per year before taking into account sponsorships and bonuses.
It’s difficult to estimate how much drivers earn, as there is so much to consider when it comes to their total income and the numbers are usually kept fairly private. Below, we’ll discuss what F1 drivers make and the factors that contribute to their salaries.
Why Is It Hard To Estimate F1 Driver Salaries?
It’s difficult to determine an F1 driver’s salary because we don’t have all the details on their contracts. Any figures for Formula 1 driver salaries are just estimates, and it can be difficult to accurately determine how much any given driver makes over the course of a season.
There’s no doubt Formula 1 drivers earn huge amounts of money, due to the extreme nature of their jobs. Racing a Formula 1 car around a circuit at 190+ miles per hour is not an easy task, and if Formula 1 teams are looking for the best driver on the market, they need to pay big money.
Teams are usually very open about when they sign new contracts with drivers, even if it’s just a contract extension. However, getting the exact figures out of them is a bit more difficult. Teams might sometimes state how much the contract is worth (the total amount paid out over several years) or they might give vague estimations, depending on the team.
However, they do not always say how much the drivers will earn when it comes to bonuses. There are different bonus clauses drivers can add to their contracts. These are performance related, and it must be agreed upon by the team. Every time the driver fulfils one of these clauses, the driver makes more money.
Many drivers also have their own personal sponsors. Unfortunately, the figures of sponsorships are also rarely released to the public. But the sponsorship money drivers receive is no small sum and drivers at the back of the grid can make more money from sponsorships than the team’s salary. Doing events, adverts, or even promoting products on social media serve as extra streams of income.
Many Formula 1 drivers have branched off into other avenues of income away from the track. It’s rare to find a driver that drops off the map and sits in their Monaco apartment during the off season, just waiting for the new season to start. Instead, many drivers have personal businesses and brands to grow.
Drivers will often use their money to open their own businesses, which will generate sustainable income for them in the future. These drivers understand that they will retire one day, or that one crash could end their career. In either of these scenarios, it wouldn’t hurt to have a business that can continue to support their lifestyle after F1.
Lewis Hamilton, for example, has opened his own vegan restaurant, and has many ventures in the fashion world. Niki Lauda had his own airline, Lando Norris has his YouTube channel and team at Quadrant, and Daniel Ricciardo has his own karting series. These are only a few of the many businesses and “side hustles” Formula 1 drivers have started outside of the sport.
F1 Driver Salaries 2022
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||$50+ million|
|Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||$40 million|
|Lando Norris||McLaren||$26 million|
|Fernando Alonso||Alpine||$20 million|
|Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||$17 million|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||$15 million|
|Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||$12 million|
|Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||$10 million|
|Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||$10 million|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||$10 million|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||$8 million|
|Kevin Magnussen||Haas||$6 million|
|George Russell||Mercedes||$5 million|
|Esteban Ocon||Alpine||$5 million|
|Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||$5 million|
|Alex Albon||Williams||$2 million|
|Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||$1 million|
|Mick Schumacher||Haas||$1 million|
|Nicholas Latifi||Williams||$1 million|
How Much Does Each F1 Driver Earn?
It’s difficult to say how much an F1 driver earns, but above is a list of drivers currently under contract. Their estimated salaries are based on reports from various sources. As these are simply estimates, there may be reports of other figures. The truth is, only the teams know the exact figures.
Almost all drivers on the F1 grid earn over one million dollars. The only exception is Yuki Tsunoda, who currently earns around $750,000 per year. This is up from the $500,000 that he received in 2021 and his salary could increase further depending on his performance.
Some drivers, such as Latifi and Stroll, are known as pay drivers. This means they have sponsors that pay the team for their seats (or in Lance Stroll’s case, his dad owns the Aston Martin team). Despite this, they may still receive a salary from the team.
Who Is The Highest Paid F1 Driver?
Max Verstappen is now the highest paid F1 driver, with his contract estimated to be worth more than $50 million per year. Lewis Hamilton had been the highest paid driver in Formula 1 for many years. Hamilton is currently on a $40 million per year contract until the end of 2023.
While these two titans of Formula 1 are paid massive amounts by their teams already, they are bound to receive even more money from their sponsors. With Hamilton’s Tommy Hilfiger partnership and Verstappen’s CarNext sponsorship, these drivers will be earning much more than these sums each season.
Who Is The Lowest Paid F1 Driver?
The lowest paid F1 driver is Yuki Tsunoda of the AlphaTauri team. Tsunoda reportedly earns $750,000 per season. This is a raise of $250,000 from his previous salary reported in 2021.
You may be wondering why he is earning much less than the other drivers on the grid. Tsunoda is part of the Red Bull academy, and after graduating from Formula 2, these academy drivers must prove themselves in the pinnacle of motorsport before they are given big contracts.
In many cases, Red Bull academy drivers are given one or two seasons to prove that they can hold their own in Formula 1. This means they have short term contracts with “low pay” until they are usually rewarded with longer contracts and more money if they perform well.
How Is The Value Of A Formula 1 Driver Determined?
The value of a Formula 1 driver is determined by the teams and sponsors. There is a huge range in the different salaries drivers have across the grid. There are some question marks when you look at the salaries of some drivers compared to others when it comes to Formula 1.
For example, Daniel Ricciardo has a higher salary than four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. In this case, Vettel would have taken a major pay cut to join Aston Martin, which is a much smaller team than his previous team (Ferrari) and Ricciardo’s current team (McLaren).
However, when it comes to contract negotiations and deciding on a salary for a driver, there are a couple of important factors that teams and sponsors need to consider before they make their final offer to the driver in question. As with any business, teams and sponsors want to get more value than they give.
The first element to consider is talent. A talented driver will always have the opportunity to negotiate a higher salary on their contract than a driver who is constantly on the back of the grid. This is certainly the case with Lando Norris and McLaren, as he signed his new contract in early 2022.
Norris became the third highest-paid driver on the grid at around $26 million per year. An unusually long contract extension was signed too, with Norris being tied down at McLaren until 2025. Norris has been seen as one of F1’s best talents, and McLaren doesn’t want to lose him to rivals. What better way to lock down a talented driver and potential world champion than to offer them a huge salary?
In Formula 1, experience can provide drivers with a ton of added value. This was certainly the case for Daniel Ricciardo, when he made his move to Renault in 2018 and became the second highest-paid driver on the grid at the time with a contract worth $35 million per year.
Ricciardo had experience working with a highly driven and successful Red Bull team, with whom he won seven Grands Prix. At the time, Renault was desperate for a talented driver who could develop their car to become more competitive.
Ricciardo was able to offer his services, as he had been part of the Red Bull project that had often taken the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari. This experience allowed Ricciardo to negotiate a much higher salary when signing his new contract.
Modern Formula 1 is all about sponsorship. Without sponsors, the teams and the sport itself wouldn’t exist. For this reason, public image is important to Formula 1 teams, and many teams will raise the salary of a driver if they are perceived well by the public.
Lewis Hamilton is a great example of this. He’s vocal about important social issues in the world and leads by example. He’s also very charismatic and gives love to the fans wherever he is. He always has time for other people, and this makes him a genuinely likable person.
Even without his world championships, Hamilton would still be paid a big salary purely based on his personality and likeability. Having a driver such as Hamilton on your team will draw in more fans and sponsors, which ultimately brings in more money.
Why Are F1 Drivers Committing To Long-Term Contracts?
Drivers are committing to long-term contracts because Formula 1 is unpredictable. As the sport is becoming more popular than ever, there is a huge amount of competition for the 20 available seats on the Formula 1 grid. Without a long-term contract, these drivers could quickly be out of a job.
For many years we have seen drivers and teams agreeing to relatively short contracts. Many drivers would only be given two or three-year contracts at a time, with some even going on single-year contracts for years. This is because the sport changes so quickly, and one driver might become better than another.
From the driver’s perspective, it’s important to be flexible. As we’ve seen, some teams might be able to dominate the sport. However, the tides can shift quickly, and other teams can become stronger than the team the driver is signed for. Being able to get out of their contract quickly can allow the driver to join a stronger team.
However, we’re seeing more and more drivers signing longer contracts. As an example, Max Verstappen is staying at Red Bull until 2028, Lando Norris signed a contract extension to set up a five-year deal, and Charles Leclerc became the driver with the longest Ferrari contract in the team’s history with a five-year deal ending in 2026.
Long Term Plans
In the case of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris especially, they signed a long-term contract because the team has a clear vision for their future. Their project has been explained to the drivers, and with a mutual vision, it’s much easier to commit to your future with the team.
The same goes for a team. If a team believes they have landed upon a generational talent, they will do their best to keep hold of them. This has been the case with Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren, who all believe that they have locked down future world champions.
In a sport that changes very quickly, it doesn’t always make sense to sign a long-term deal. However, with Formula 1 being so unpredictable and competitive, some stability and long-term planning can put the drivers and teams at ease for their future.
How Much Do F1 Drivers Get For Winning A Race?
F1 drivers don’t really get paid on a per-race basis, and are paid a salary instead. There is no prize money given out by the FIA. However, the constructors (the manufacturers that develop and build the cars) do receive money depending on where the finish in the constructors’ championship.
Some drivers also have race win bonuses worked into their contracts. Teams and drivers will never reveal the figures behind these bonuses, but since winning a Grand Prix is a big deal, it’s sure to be a large amount of money. However, there is no prize money for winning a race in F1.
How Much Do F1 Drivers Get For Winning The Championship?
F1 drivers are not given any prize money from the FIA for winning the World Championship. This might come as a surprise, considering how prestigious and important the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship is to the sport. Drivers may have a clause in their contract that pays for a championship.
However, prize money is given to each team at the end of the season. The teams will get a share of the total prize fund based on where they finish in the constructors’ championship. Ferrari also gets paid a legacy payment for being in the sport since the start in 1950.
Do F1 Drivers Get Paid Bonuses?
Formula 1 drivers are given bonuses, and it’s an important part of an F1 driver’s contract. This is the main area of negotiation for the driver, as it allows them to be rewarded in relation to how they perform each season. Bonuses can vary between drivers and teams based on their goals.
For example, at Mercedes, the drivers might be given bonuses based on winning races and getting pole positions. However, further down the grid at Haas for example, drivers may be given bonuses simply for scoring points.
Drivers can negotiate their bonuses with the team, and they will become part of their contract. This means the driver will earn their base salary for the agreed number of years, plus any bonus money for achieving the goals that they have agreed upon with the team.
Bonuses Backfiring For Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen took a two-year hiatus from Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season. He eventually made his comeback with a midfield Lotus team in 2012. Kimi Raikkonen came to an agreement with Lotus team boss Gérard Lopéz that he would receive $55,000 for each point that he scored during his two-year contract with Lotus.
Unfortunately for Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen went on to score a total of 390 points with the team during his two year stay with them. It’s hard to think of scoring that many points as a bad thing, but the bonus clause alone netted Raikkonen a total of $21.5 million during his two seasons with Lotus – on top of his base salary of around $8 million!
Do F1 Drivers Get Paid Monthly?
F1 drivers’ payments depend on their contracts. Some drivers are paid on a monthly basis whereas others are paid per race. It all depends on the agreement that the team and driver have over their contract. Any bonuses they receive for hitting goals is determine by the contract as well.
Once again, this is a topic that is not openly discussed by Formula 1 drivers or teams, so it’s unclear how this process works. However, considering the massive amounts of money drivers are paid, it could also be done annually rather than monthly.
When considering other athletes, there is also a huge range of results. NFL players may be paid per game, soccer players are often paid per week, and IndyCar drivers are often paid per race. The details of Formula 1 contracts remain fuzzy, and we’ll likely never know how this process works as it will always remain confidential.
Formula 1 drivers are paid millions of dollars each year. As with any other sport, some drivers are paid more than others. This is because each driver is unique and has a different value. Many drivers also have their own sponsors and businesses that bring in further income on the side.