INSTAGRAM | @charles_leclerc

FORMULA 1 RACING has quickly become one of the world’s most lucrative sports. F1 has always been popular and recognised as the pinnacle of motorsport, but in recent years interest has surged, thanks in large part to it becoming more accessible. Previously, if you weren’t a hardcore motoring fanatic, it could be hard to find the entertainment value in watching a bunch of cars zip around a track for a few hours. Now, greater access to the storylines driving the action – provided by shows like Drive To Survive – has allowed viewers to put faces to the drivers behind the wheel and understand why the pageantry is always high stakes.

Global F1 viewership has doubled since 2018. Drivers are now seen as celebrities as much as they are seen as athletes – and you better believe they’re being fairly compensated for it. F1 drivers have always had a reputation as playboys and scions – who could forget the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, where Kimi Räikkönen immediately retired to his nearby yacht after engine trouble, ripping off his shirt and popping champagne before the smoke had even cleared. And while drivers may not be as out of touch with the common man as they were in the past, they’re earning more than ever.

Lucrative sponsorship deals with luxury brands are commonplace for even the lowliest of drivers at the back of the pack nowadays, and hefty pay checks are a handed out like money is no object. So, who is the most loaded driver on the grid? New data from Spotrac has given us the answer. Let’s take a look at the top ten.

All figures are in AUD and accurate up to March 15th.

Who are the highest paid Formula 1 drivers?

INSTAGRAM | @danielricciardo

10. Daniel Ricciardo, RB

Salary: $10.75 million

Fan-favourite Aussie speedster Daniel Ricciardo returned to the grid midway through last season, and now he’s back full-time. He’s on a comfortable contract at RB, but he’s on the lookout for an even bigger one, with the hope of returning to his former seat at Red Bull after his contract runs out at the end of this year.

INSTAGRAM | @valtteribottas

9. Valtteri Bottas, Sauber

Salary: $15.4 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 sitting equal last in the driver’s standings, after 19th and 17th placed starts to the season, Bottas remains a respected figure, 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. 

INSTAGRAM | @carlossainz55

8. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Salary: $18.4 million

Carlos Sainz is one of the most respected and well-paid drivers on the F1 roster, but as he’s soon to be cast aside by Ferrari to make way for Lewis Hamilton, Sainz will need to find a new employer.

Sainz signed a contract extension with Ferrari in 2022 that added an additional $5 million per year to his pockets. Not bad for a guy who only has two F1 victories to his name—two more than any of us have, we suppose.

INSTAGRAM | @schecoperez

7. Sergio Perez, Red Bull 

Salary: $21.5 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 capable sidekick to the dominant Max Verstappen at Red Bull, where big contracts are handed out like they can’t give them away. Although, Perez’s deal expires at the end of this season, and a move away could be on the cards.

INSTAGRAM | @fernandoalo_oficial

6. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

Salary: $27.6 million

Proving that mileage does not decrease value, as it’s known to do with cars, Fernando Alonso is the oldest driver on the 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 the veteran made the switch to Aston Martin last season, where he’s earned a lucrative contract.

INSTAGRAM | @georgerussell63

5. George Russell, Mercedes

Salary: $27.7 million 

One of F1’s most promising rising stars, George Russell has proven himself to be more than deserving of a high salary, and of being the future of Mercedes once Lewis Hamilton departs.

Whether Russell can surpass Hamilton remains to be seen, but with the amount he’s being paid, Mercedes certainly think he can do it.

INSTAGRAM | @landonorris

4. Lando Norris, McLaren

Salary: $30.75 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, after securing the Brit’s talents with a costly new contract signed last year. McLaren’s potential is through the roof with Norris and Aussie young gun Oscar Piastri under contract long-term.

INSTAGRAM | @charles_leclerc

3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Salary: $52 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 v Verstappen has been touted as the next great F1 rivalry, but it’s looking awfully one-sided at present. But whether Leclerc overcomes Verstappen and wins a championship, or descends into obscurity, he won’t be short on cash.

INSTAGRAM | @lewishamilton

2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Salary: $69 million

Lewis Hamilton remains F1’s biggest name and most popular driver. For many years, he would’ve topped this list. But much like his on-track fortunes, he’s been overtaken. Even if he’s not challenging for championships like he used to, the 39-year-old is still the F1’s biggest draw, and he’s more than worthy of such hefty compensation.

Hamilton’s new contract details with Ferrari haven’t been disclosed yet, but expect some fluctuation with his ranking next year. Although, with numerous other avenues of revenue, including high-paying partnerships and lucrative sponsorship deals, we can’t imagine he’ll be strapped for cash, no matter the size of his new deal.

INSTAGRAM | @maxverstappen1

1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull 

Salary: $84.5 million

Coming off his third consecutive F1 championship, words don’t do Max Verstappen’s talent justice – otherworldly may be the closest we can get.

Verstappen is a superstar. At only 26 years old, 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, with a contract keeping him at Red Bull until at least 2028, when an even more lucrative pay-day could be in order.


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