How much does an F1 driver cost? And why…

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F1 drivers, Melbourne, 2007 | Ferrari S.p.A.Max Mosley has approved increases in the cost of F1 drivers’ superlicences that will net the FIA an extra ??1.1m* (??818,000).

F1 drivers have seen the cost of their licences increase by up to 479%. The top drivers will pay the most but it’s not as if they’re impoverished to begin with – Lewis Hamilton will earn something between ??36m and ??150m over the next five years, depending whose figures you believe.

So why is the FIA after the extra money?

New superlicence costs

Driver – 2008 fee (2007 fee)
Fernando Alonso – ??228,000.00 (??51,429.00)
Rubens Barrichello – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Sebastien Bourdais – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Jenson Button – ??22,000.00 (??4,461.00)
David Coulthard – ??38,000.00 (??8,109.00)
Anthony Davidson – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Giancarlo Fisichella – ??52,000.00 (??11,301.00)
Timo Glock – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Nick Heidfeld – ??132,000.00 (??29,541.00)
Lewis Hamilton – ??228,000.00 (??51,429.00)
Heikki Kovalainen – ??70,000.00 (??15,405.00)
Robert Kubica – ??88,000.00 (??19,509.00)
Felipe Massa – ??198,000.00 (??44,589.00)
Kazuki Nakajima – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Nelson Piquet Jnr – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Kimi Raikkonen – ??230,000.00 (??51,885.00)
Nico Rosberg – ??50,000.00 (??10,845.00)
Takuma Sato – ??18,000.00 (??3,549.00)
Adrian Sutil – ??10,000.00 (??1,725.00)
Jarno Trulli – ??26,000.00 (??5,373.00)
Sebastian Vettel – ??22,000.00 (??4,461.00)
Mark Webber – ??30,000.00 (??6,285.00)

FIA’s income from F1 race drivers under 2007 pay schedule: ??330,702.00
FIA’s income from F1 race drivers under 2008 pay schedule: ??1,504,000.00

The extra ??1.1m* this will bring into the FIA is not an insignificant sum, but nor is it an impressive amount by F1 standards. The FIA raked in around $50m (??33.9m) from the McLaren fine after the relevant deductions were made.

So why has the FIA put up superlicence costs?

Red Bull-Renault, RBR4 launch, 2008, Jerez, 7 | GEPA / Franz PammerAccording to Mosley the FIA is going to increase its expenditure on safety. And who’s been getting up his nose by demanding safety improvements? The drivers.

Mosley’s record on safety is very good, but one thing he does not like is being told his business. Revisions were made to the Monza circuit last year to give the drivers tarmac run-off. The drivers themselves led the demands for these changes, but when they first voiced them, Mosley described the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association as:

Self-appointed experts, with little or no understanding of the latest developments in circuit safety, causing confusion and undermining the significant safety benefits which are now being achieved.

It was also action from the GPDA that prompted the changes to the 2008 regulations to increase cockpit sizes following David Coulthard and Alexander Wurz’s crash at Melbourne last year.

Now some drivers are questioning the safety of driving in the wet without traction control. Coulthard has declared his concerns, other drivers are not worried about the traction control ban. Max Mosley has supported the ban.

So is the superlicence price hike Max’s way of saying to the drivers, “you want safer F1 tracks, you can pay for them”?

Is he even trying to break the GPDA? At present the drivers’ union is a man down. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are its only remaining directors as Ralf Schumacher has not got an F1 drive for 2008. Few of the younger drivers have shown interest in becoming directors and Lewis Hamilton is not yet a member.

The GPDA was highly active in the sixties and seventies before being re-formed in 1994 after the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, at the same time Mosley was rushing through urgent new regulations to slow down F1 cars.

*Excluding test drivers and other superlicence holders.

Photos copyright: Ferrari S.p.A. | GEPA / Franz Pammer

More on safety in F1

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “How much does an F1 driver cost? And why…”

  1. I think the FIA is just trying to milk money from wherever they can get it. Granted, most of the drivers can afford it, but why should some drivers have to pay more for the same thing than others? This looks like some kind of socialist tax system at work to gain more money for capitalists. In a way I like it ;-)

  2. progressive taxation by Max the taxman :-)

    what you are saying here Keith might make sense, but I still suspect this superlicense cost hike is purely milking the cash cow exercise …

  3. These guys earn plenty from motorsport, so no harm in them putting a little back in, although whether the FIA will spend it wisely is in some doubt!

  4. Surely if you have a superlicence you should be able to exceed certain road speed limits?

  5. Maybe Fernando told Lewis you can…

  6. Any body know what max’s retiremnt fund may be? – provided the old (censored) has the guts to go before he is pushed – pleease!!
    He does after all live in a tax haven – and surely he is at least entitled to a percentage of increased turnover of the business as the md? – like all good business people – if marks and sparks boss gets – whatever millions – he has brought in at least £51 mill to the business – clever max!!

  7. That’s just a mere 1.1 mil,can’t they just use some of the $100 million he got from McLaren?

  8. Once they’d taken off the prize money and other deductions McLaren’s fine was actually closer to $50m.

    The FIA did say that some of that money would be used for safety improvements and given to national motor sport bodies.

  9. So, the FIA only got 50mil from McLaren and they need more from the drivers? What would the license fee be if NOT for the McLaren fine? Ha Ha

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