How Much Do F1 Drivers Make? What You Need to Know

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Formula 1 drivers are some of the best-paid athletes in the world. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport and only the best get a seat in one of the 10 teams on the grid. That comes with attractive perks such as mouth-watering salaries, sponsorship deals, and bonuses. 

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However, unlike sports like football, boxing or even tennis, people rarely discuss drivers’ earnings publicly. This begs the question, how much do F1 drivers make?

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How Are F1 Drivers Paid?

How Much Do F1 Drivers Make? What You Need to Know
Malaysian Grand Prix in 2015. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Fans watch F1 for its entertainment value but the teams and sponsors, above all else, are financially driven. 

Therefore, whenever a team offers a seat to a driver, it’s got to be someone who’ll bring value throughout their stay in the team. 

While signing a driver, every team uses different valuations depending on their needs, but a few factors cut across the grid and determine the driver’s salary. Here are some of these factors.

Talent

All teams on the grid are always on the lookout for talented drivers. If you consistently bring in points and battle for podium positions, you have more bargaining power and thus command a huge salary than a driver with a poor record. 

Public image

Formula 1 is not just about the races. It also rides on the publicity of the drivers. The public perception of drivers is important because it can either increase interest in the sport or drive fans away (no pan intended). 

As such, drivers must carefully play this role and ensure they maintain all their channels of communication. 

They also have to actively engage with the media and fans, fulfil sponsorship duties and generally, be visible.

Experience

Experience also influences a driver’s pay. If a driver has a good history, they are in a position to command a good salary due to the value they bring to the team. 

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How Much Do F1 Drivers Make?

How Much Do F1 Drivers Make? What You Need to Know
Lewis Hamilton after a race. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

It’s widely known that F1 drivers are some of the best-paid athletes in the sport. Even so, it’s not easy to figure out how much F1 drivers make as teams don’t disclose this information. 

At times, they only give estimates of what a driver’s contract is worth. Therefore, the figures listed here are estimates of F1 drivers’ salaries. 

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Max Verstappen (RedBull) – $55 million

After he won his first-ever Formula 1 World Championship, Redbull Racing rewarded Max Verstappen with a new contract that’s reportedly one of the biggest in sports history. 

He’s now a three-time world champion and his deal, scheduled to run until 2028,  is reportedly worth $55 million per year, which makes him the highest earner on the grid. 

Even though he looks set to follow through on his contract, in recent weeks, he’s been linked with a move to Mercedez but Red Bull Racing hasn’t confirmed any of the speculations.  

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes Benz) – $45 million

No surprise that Lewis Hamilton is one of two F1 drivers with the highest salary on the grid. He’s a seven-time world champion and, that reflects on his payslip. This is Hamilton’s last season at Mercedez as he’ll join Ferrari in 2025.

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – $34 million

Leclerc and Ferrari have come close to challenging for the F1 title but they still have work to do on the car. He gave former teammate Sebastien Vettel a run for his money and secured his seat in the Italian team. Leclerc earns $34 million per year and is still seen as the man who can bring the title back to Maranello. 

Lando Norris (McLaren) – $20 million

In 2022, McLaren handed Norris a deal that guaranteed him a stay at the team until 2025. His contract, worth $80 million, means that he takes home $20 million per year.

McLaren reacted after other teams, Mercedes, Redbull and Ferrari, were thought to be interested in the then 22-year-old. Many people consider Norris to be one of the upcoming talents on the grid. Recently, he extended his stay in the team beyond 2025 after signing a multi-year contract. 

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George Russell (Mercedes Benz) – $18 million

George Russell has delivered the best Mercedes performance in a car that’s lagging behind its competitors. He has performed better than Hamilton and has been rewarded. His contract runs until the end of 2025 and ranks fifth in the drivers’ salary standings.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – $18 million

Spanish driver and former world champion moved from Alpine to Aston Martin at the end of 2022, replacing retired driver Sebastian Vettel. He described it as one of the best career moves he’s made, even though the team was behind his former team Alpine. Alonso’s contract runs to the end of 2024.

Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) – $14 million

Perez has proved to be a great teammate to Max Verstappen and played a crucial role when the Dutchman won his first F1 title. He has six career victories, which has seen him get a contract extension until 2024. He might not earn as much as his teammate, but his pay is enough to be among the top 10 F1 earners.

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – $12 million

Sainz comes second in the pecking order, but he’s produced strong performances that justify his paycheck. Additionally, Sainz has formed a good partnership with his teammate Leclerc, which works well for the team.

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Valtteri Bottas (Kick Sauber) – $10 million

Bottas’ move from Mercedez to Alfa Romeo and now Sauber hasn’t chopped a dollar off his paycheck. He still earns the same amount and has produced some exciting performances that demonstrate how good he is.

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Daniel Ricciardo (Visa Cash App RB) – $7 million

The Aussie driver seems to be fading with the rise of younger drivers and his performances haven’t helped him remain top of mind. Currently, he’s part of Red Bull’s sister team, renamed from AlphaTauri to Visa Cash App RB, until the end of 2024. 

Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – $6 million

Ocon penned a three-year deal with Alpine, worth that will run until 2024. When asked about his future, Ocon simply says that he’s focused on getting the job done on the track.

Pierre Gasly (Alpine) -$6 million

Gasly is in the same boat as his teammate Ocon. His contract runs until the end of 2024, but reports indicate he has an option to extend it to 2025.   

Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – $6 million

Oscar Piastri began racing in F1 in 2023 at McLaren. His contract runs until the end of 2026. He’s thought to be among the upcoming drivers and is already showing signs of becoming a top driver. To date, his best finish came at the 2023 British Grand Prix where he finished in fourth place.

Kevin Magnussen (Haas) -$6 million

After leaving at the end of 2020, Magnussen competed in the IndyCar series and had plans to compete in the Peugeot World Endurance Championship before his sensational return with Haas. For his experience and value, he signed a 2-year contract and extended it by a year until the end of 2024. 

Alexander Albon (Williams) – $3 million

Albon lost his seat at Red Bull to Sergio Perez but found a new home in 2022 at Williams. Albon is seen as one of the up-and-coming talents on the grid. Not only that, but the Thai-British driver has some experience having raced with Red Bull. 

Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – $3 million

Stroll will not be worried about his position at Aston Martin. His father owns the team and even though he has to perform, it’s almost impossible to think that he’ll not be part of the team. As for his salary, he takes home $3 million.

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Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) – $2 million

Nico joined Haas at the start of the 2023 season and extended his stay to the end of 2024. He’s produced mixed performances but overall, has been a reliable driver. The German driver has previously driven for teams such as Sauber, Renault, and Force India.  

Zhou Guanyu (Sauber) – $1 million

Zhou is China’s first F1 driver. He has come up through the ranks as he competed in Formula 2 for UNI-Virtuosi between 2019 and 2021. The Shanghai-born racer made his F1 debut in 2021 and will be with the team until the end of 2024. 

Yuki Tsunoda (RB) – $1 million

At the bottom of the F1 salary rank is Yuki Tsunoda, who takes home$1 million per season, a raise from the $750,000 he previously earned. He’s also part of the Red Bull’s sister team, after graduating from the team’s academy.

Logan Sargeant (Williams) – $1 million

People might describe Sargeant’s first Formula One season as ‘typical for a newcomer.’ He says he learnt a lot after finishing in the 21st position. His contract runs until the end of 2024 and team principal James Vowles says he has to keep improving to remain with the team beyond this season.

*Driver’s salary estimate is from Spotrac.

Q&A

How much do F1 drivers make per race?

Explainer of F1 driver’s pay. Video Credit: Kym Illman

Formula 1 teams don’t pay drivers per race or win. That said, some drivers negotiate for race win bonuses but hardly reveal how much they earn from this. 

The FIA doesn’t pay drivers for race wins either as the teams cater for their salaries. What the FIA does, however, is give the manufacturers an undisclosed amount depending on their ranking in the constructors’ championship. 

How much do F1 reserve drivers make?

Formula One reserve drivers, also called test drivers, serve as stand-in drivers for the main drivers. 

They are usually part of a race weekend and are always on standby to replace a driver on race day. They also take part in testing the cars as well as doing simulator work. 

Teams pay reserve drivers way less due to the nature of their role, and just like the main drivers, they keep their salaries undisclosed. They can bump up their pay by having sponsors.   

How much do F1 esports drivers make?

If you aren’t very familiar with F1 Esports, it’s the simulation form of the game. Drivers compete for a championship from which the winning team earns the stipulated prize money. 

Apart from that, it’s not known whether the drivers draw a salary from their contracts.

Even so, the earning potential of Esports players is huge as they tend to diversify their income streams. They earn through YouTube & Twitch monetization and sponsorship deals. 

How much do F1 safety car drivers make?

What an F1 Safety Car does. Video Credit: F1Education

Bernd Maylander is the F1 safety car driver. He’s occupied this position since 2000 and has been present in all but one race since then. 

He plays a crucial role in every race weekend, but his salary doesn’t match that of the top drivers. Maylander doesn’t have a fixed contract. The payment for each Grand Prix remains undisclosed to him. 

How much do rookie F1 drivers make?

Currently, Lorgan Sagearnt, Yuki Tsonada and Zhou Guanyu are the lowest-earning drivers on the grid. That said, Tsonada is establishing himself on the grid with a fourth-place-best finish at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Guanyu best finish is P9 at the Australian, Spanish and Qatar Grand Prix. Such performances can earn them a place in other teams where they can increase their earning potential. 

The question of how much F1 drivers make depends on the team they drive for. Drivers who have experience get higher salaries than their junior counterparts and those who win championships will always rake in more. 

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