BUSINESS IS BOOMING in Formula One racing. Already established as the pinnacle of motorsport with an international following, a plethora of lucrative partnerships, and a globetrotting tour circuit, Netflix’s Drive to Survive has now brought F1’s popularity to an all-time high.
Drive to Survive largely shuns the nitty gritty technical aspects of F1, which are less interesting to those of us that don’t know the first thing about cars, in favour of showcasing high-stakes drama and personal storylines. As such, F1 viewership has increased by almost 50% globally, and drivers have essentially become reality TV stars, unlocking a new level of fame, attracting new legions of fans, and of course, justifying salaries that make us wish we realised that driving was a legitimate career path sooner.
So, who is the most loaded driver on the grid? Let’s take a look at the top ten.
Who are the highest paid Formula 1 drivers?
10. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
Salary: $7.8 million
Proving that more mileage does not decrease value, as it’s known to do with cars, Fernando Alonso is the oldest driver on the 2023 F1 grid, but still takes home a hefty pay check.
Alonso returned from a multi-year F1 hiatus in 2021 to get on the podium for the first time in seven years. Alonso’s driving ability clearly hasn’t dwindled as he’s entered his fifth decade. After driving for Alpine last season, the veteran made the switch to Aston Martin, where he’s earned a lucrative long-term contract.
9. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Salary: $9.4 million
Esteban Ocon’s career has been all over the place. The 26-year-old previously lent his talents to Force India, Manor racing, Mercedes, and Renault before finding a home, and a multi-million dollar contract, with Alpine.
Ocon only has a single F1 win to his name, but that hasn’t prevented him from becoming one of the highest paid drivers on the grid.
8. George Russell, Mercedes
Salary: $12.4 million
One of F1’s most promising rising stars, George Russell has proven himself to be more than deserving of a high salary, and a place at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Russell isn’t content to simply bring up the rear behind Hamilton though. The younger Brit outpaced his teammate on multiple occasions in 2022, sending a message to the rest of the grid.
7. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
Salary: $15.6 million
Once upon a time, Valtteri Bottas was a perennial podium threat and twice finished second in the F1 drivers championship with Mercedes. Now, it’s evident the Finn has seen greener pastures. Currently positioned 15th in the drivers standings, Bottas remains a racing legend, but he’s certainly seen better days.
Nevertheless, he’s still one of the most loaded guys on the F1 roster, so don’t feel too bad.
6. Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
Salary: $15.6 million
Last year, Sergio Perez became the first Mexican driver to start in pole position in an F1 race. And it only took ‘Checo’ an astonishing 215 races to do it.
Since then, Perez has won four races and proven to be a more than capable sidekick to the dominant Max Verstappen at Red Bull, where big contracts are handed out like they can’t give them away—as we’ll see later in this list.
5. Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari
Salary: $18.7 million
Carlos Sainz Jr is one of the most respected and well-paid drivers on the F1 roster, and he’s recently added to his salary.
Sainz signed a contract extension with Ferrari last year that will keep him at the team until at least 2024 and added about $5 million to his pockets. Not bad for a guy who only has a single F1 victory to his name—one more win than all of us have, we suppose.
4. Lando Norris, McLaren
Salary: $31.2 million
Lando Norris holds two important cards in the game of earning a massive F1 contract: youth and talent.
McLaren obviously envisions a bright future with Norris at the wheel, and have given the youngster a blank cheque to keep him with the team until 2025. McLaren’s potential is through the roof with Norris and Aussie young gun Oscar Piastri under contract long-term, with the hope of forming a dynamic duo.
3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Salary: $39 million
Leclerc once described himself as “too greedy” after a mistake cost him points in a crucial race. Clearly he doesn’t have the same attitude when it comes to his salary.
Leclerc is primed to become the face of F1 in the near-future, assuming he can eventually overcome Max Verstappen, which is anything but an easy undertaking. But whether Leclerc becomes a championship winning driver, or descends into obscurity, he won’t be short on cash.
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Salary: $54.7 million
Lewis Hamilton remains F1’s biggest name and most popular driver. Even if he’s not challenging for championships like he used to, the 38-year-old is still the F1’s biggest draw, and he’s more than worthy of such hefty compensation.
Hamilton’s F1 contract is actually earning him around $8 million less this year compared to last year. But with numerous other avenues of revenue, including high-paying partnerships and lucrative sponsorship deals, we can’t imagine he’ll be complaining.
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Salary: $85.8 million
Coming off his third consecutive F1 championship, words don’t do Max Verstappen’s talent justice—but let’s go with otherworldly.
Verstappen is a superstar. At only 25 years of age, and with a contract keeping him at Red Bull until at least 2028, we can expect the Dutchman to continue dominating the F1 circuit for years to come. It’s no surprise to see Verstappen topping this list, and we can comfortably say he’ll be among F1’s highest earning driver’s for most of his career.