Drivers, Albert Park, 2018

How much do F1 drivers really earn? Don’t believe the clickbait

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I have increasingly received emails asking me to comment about the authenticity of articles which purport to reveal ‘2019 F1 driver salaries’ and other earnings.

These ‘exclusives’ tend to appear in little-known publications, collated (allegedly) by unknown writers and usually published without bylines, which tells its own tale. In short, there’s little indication they are authentic, and everything about them has the hollow ring of ‘clickbait’ aimed at attracting attention to shore up advertising revenue.

I invariably advise those who ask about them to ignore the numbers. Indeed, some of the alleged ‘reports’ are so laughable I’ve suggested they rely on their own ‘thumbsucks’ instead.

The fact is that such information is not in the public domain and the only folk who have access to such numbers on a regular basis are unlikely to share it with dudes they’ve never met. Why should they?

Here’s some useful background for anyone wishing to understand the byzantine world of F1 driver contracts and salaries: In line with Appendix 5 of the Sporting Regulations, all driver contracts are lodged with the FIA Contract Recognition Board. This was established in 1991 as the arbitration body in the event of driver contract disputes – the most famous of which being Benetton poaching Michael Schumacher from Jordan after that year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Only bona fide F1 personnel have access to CRB documents, and only upon satisfactory application to the independent lawyers who operate the board on behalf of the FIA.

2019 F1driver salaries: What does Romain Grosjean earn?
How much does Grosjean really earn?
Here’s a thing: all other Sporting Regulations clauses are open to scrutiny on the FIA website, save for Appendix 5, the cover page of which states: “Reserved for the exclusive use of competitors entered in the FIA Formula One World Championship.”

Yet Mr-or-Ms UN Known of BollocksF1.con wishes the world to believe that he/she had unfettered access to the full CRB archive?

Trust between journalists and sources is paramount in the F1 paddock, particularly where thorny subjects such as individual finances are concerned. Therefore, there are only two surefire ways of discovering what drivers earn: by physically having access to their contracts (highly unlikely, given their secrecy); or establishing trust with folk who have reason to know the numbers and, crucially, are prepared to share them.

To compile my estimates of F1 drivers salaries I have, over several years, chatted to many sources. In the main I have shared information with team bosses, most of whom have either had approaches from drivers or made their own enquiries. I’ve spoken to driver managers, whose job it is to know market values of their own charges, and the opposition. This information has then been cross-referenced with other sources and colleagues.

Gradually a framework had emerged, which has then been updated on an as/when basis. Can I guarantee its total accuracy? Not without access to the CRB. But I can guarantee it isn’t ‘clickbait’.

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2019 F1 driver salaries estimates

Entry list order Driver Team Salary (US$m)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 8
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 30
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 4
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 16
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 2
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 15
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 10
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 7
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3
11 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren 4
12 Lando Norris McLaren 0.5
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point 5
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point 3
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 5
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 2
18 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso 0.5
19 George Russell Williams 0.5
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1

NB. All drivers are on individual bonuses schemes in addition to basic packages


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66 comments on “How much do F1 drivers really earn? Don’t believe the clickbait”

  1. Sources said Alonso was even at 40 million last year. But that’s not confirmed as well of course.

    1. @jesperfey13 I thought I heard that it was 25 million, which would be in line with what you would expect. He was the highest paid driver in F1 until Vettel and Hamilton signed their new contracts.

      1. If I had to guess, the 25 million was from his contract with McLaren, while the remaining 15 million came from various sponsorships and endorsements.

    2. What sources? The figures in this list don’t wildly differ from the newspaper tables both are probably wrong, the truth is that this author just like the press don’t have a clue. I’d be prepared to believe that Hamilton is paid multi-millions but as to how much? In his case it’s reported in WSJ that he owns 2 NY apartments worth c$50m each a c$25m Kensington house a ranch in Colorado c$2.5m+ cars so from that we can divine a hefty annual wedge but that’s about as far as I’d go.

      1. Harry (@harrydymond)
        12th March 2019, 21:25

        @Tom Johnson – you say “the truth is that this author just like the press don’t have a clue.” I guess you missed this from the article: “To compile my estimates of F1 drivers salaries I have, over several years, chatted to many sources… I have shared information with team bosses… I’ve spoken to driver managers… This information has then been cross-referenced with other sources and colleagues.”

        The author doesn’t claim 100% accuracy but I’m confident these numbers are more realistic than most.

        Further, it is implied (although not stated explicitly) that the figures in the article are what the drivers get paid by the teams. Top drivers such as Hamilton (and in fact, especially Hamilton) have multiple other income streams such as product endorsements etc. So Hamilton’s total annual income is significantly greater than what’s listed here, but that additional money is not coming from Mercedes.

        1. but that additional money is not coming from Mercedes.

          Actually I’d say that an amount of that additional money goes to Mercedes. As they probably own a percentage of his image rights as long as he is contracted to them.

          1. @faulty One of the reasons Hamilton left McLaren was ‘Commercial freedom’. McLaren are very strict on what there drivers can do sponsorship wise, or what they could do outside of the McLaren bubble. Alonso may have been a little different.
            I do believe Hamilton was given much more freedom on who his personal sponsors are as part of his deal with Merc. And as we have seen on a couple of occasions chosen not to attend F1 events, but instead do his own thing with fashion and art.

  2. Woa……Ricciardo, way less than the media claim. Really?

    1. Wasn’t he supposed to be on half of verstappens salary when they were both at redbull?

      1. At which point?

        1. After MV renewed his contract and before DR left I think he means…

        2. @dieterrencken, I’m surprised that the salary of those drivers employed by divisions of publicly listed companies are not on the public record, at the same time I’m sure that drivers paypackets come from multiple sources eg. Fred and Santander, Honda etc.

          1. Well, they’re independent contractors, not employees, so it’s likely different.

      2. Red Bull have always had a performance bonus weighted contract system, so what either of them earned in a season would be heavily effected by results.

    2. Yeah the media were claiming double that.

    3. I call nonsense on this list! There is now way RedBull are paying Verstappen more than Renault are paying Ricciardo. No way. It is widely known that RedBull pay low retainers and have win bonuses. It’s also known that Renault paid BIG for Ricciardo. Hell, even Horner had a dig at Cyril Abiteboul wondering if he had enough money left for engines after paying for Ricciardo.

  3. Surprises are:
    Grosjean at 7M. Given his perfromance I’d say 3M would be generous.
    Stroll – that he’s getting paid at all
    Kvyat – 2M seems like a lot. It’s not like he’s bringing much or has the potential.

    1. @ivan-vinitskyy

      You can probably view Strolls salary as a parent to child transfer. I don’t know specifically about Canada, or at any given country where they race, but typically wages are taxed at a lower rate than gifts from parents.

      It could even be he takes his entire yearly pay at Monaco or something.

      1. Taxed? Taxed???
        I doubt F1 drivers have much to do with tax as most are settled in non-taxed locations…

    2. Ivan – Yes $7m – but Romain does have to pay for his own repairs – leaving him out of pocket….

    3. Remember what Grosjean brought at the beginning. Experience, most of the points during first two years and the team’s best results to date.

    4. I general, Haas driver packages seem super high, all things considered.

    5. @ivan-vinitskyy Yeah Grosjean is very surprising. The way he can only drive with a perfect car and slags the team off publicly every race, you’d think he would be happy to have a contract at all.

  4. Anyone know what sort of salary the paid reserve/simulator drivers would earn? Interested in Ocon and Hartley in particular.

    1. +1 would love to know this too

  5. I wonder how many clickbait articles we’re going to see over the coming weeks using these numbers…

  6. Thanks Dieter, interesting reading.

    I’m surprised that The Hülk is so high up, maybe he really is highly rated in the paddock.

    I’m intrigued that the “pay drivers” are listed, I have occasionally wondered how much they are paid personally given that they bring money to their teams. I’m guessing that they are paid directly by sponsors?

  7. That’s one of those types of info that, in the end, isn’t really anyone’s business, LOL.

  8. Gasly being paid the same salary as Kvyat seems odd… Maybe part of the package was the promotion itself?

    1. From what I can gather from articles read in the past from reliable outlets @joeypropane, Red Bull have historically paid low retainers (i.e. the driver’s basic salary) but have made up for that with very generous incentive bonuses for wins, points, poles, championships etc. Vettel cleaned up using that system from 2010-2013.

  9. What i find amazing is that in a sport were you can loose your life, half a million is a wage……these soft bunch playing football have a lot to answer for.

    1. Hey! Diving is hard!! ;)

    2. Yeah, but danger isn’t that much of a criterion. There are far more dangerous activities than F1 as well, but get paid less. It’s the (perceived) commercial value or potential that matters a lot.

    3. I guess both people in actually dangerous sports like (real) climbing and folk like miners and stuff have news for you

    4. You’d be surprised to know that 80% of the Moto3/Moto2/MotoGP grid is PAYING to race. They have to either get their salaries from whatever they can get from their sponsors or lose money.

  10. Well that’s nice information and obviously as you said not confirmed. In the netfilx doco Horner while yet again sniping at Renault asked the question, (not a direct quote) do you have money left to pay for the engines after paying for Ricciardo?
    So is it safe to assume that Ricciardo is on very good money?

    1. @johnrkh
      Spoiler: Horner is a pain in the backside. About 1% of what he says is genuine information, the rest is the verbal equivalent of spam.

      1. It’s a pity. Horner is quite open and of course a team manager. As such he has his restrictions. But most of the time his contributions are valid.
        A bit biased perhaps nase?

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          12th March 2019, 19:47

          Lol, Horners contibutions valid? You’re kidding I hope?

          Everything Horner says is to further his agenda.

        2. Isn’t he part owner of RBR as well?

        3. BlackJackFan
          13th March 2019, 5:31

          OK… I’ll allow Horner 9%… ;-)

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      12th March 2019, 19:48

      @johnrkh, This article is just another guess

  11. The salary disparity of the top 3 teams is staggering, but has merit obviously, at least with Mercedes & Ferrari. The prodigy child being paid like a World Champion widens my eyes. Grosjean evokes a “what the…”, and the rest are definitely believable.

  12. Anyone know what the CEOs of Mercedes or Renault make? Just curious, not interested politically or anything like that.

      1. So looks like they both recently averaged a little less than $10mm, depending on stock performance. It’d be funny if shareholders had to approve Lewis’s salary too.

        1. I’d guess shareholders wouldn’t have to approve Hamilton’s pay. My guess is mercedes f1 team gets a budget and can do whatever they want with it.

          1. Definitely. I was kidding. It’s just funny that he makes about 4x the CEO who can hire or fire him.

  13. I want to take whoever is managing Grosjean and Sainz to my next contract negotiation :)

    1. That’s what Magnussen did.

  14. Nailing jelly to the wall:

    Are these numbers total package including bonuses? Or just basic. Doubtless drivers direct endorsements is what confuses the number you see in the paper.

  15. I’m trying to find a good way to spin Kubica’s paltry 1 million. We know Williams is broke, but I was under the impression he was very marketable with sponsors. I don’t see any way around admitting his performance is in question.

    1. I’m sure he earns at least double that through sponors etc.

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      12th March 2019, 19:43

      @slotopen Kubica is a pay driver. What would be the point of paying him a big salary?

  16. In an article about driver salaries one would expect at least a short explanation of a common pay structure. The word bonus isn’t even mentioned. I think indeed some drivers’ saleries are more bonus based then others, and thus makes it hard to compare.

  17. Thanks for providing some sanity to put some of the bizarre articles we’ve seen over the past few days into perspective.

    Some of the other things that would be interesting to know is just how much it costs (if any) for drivers to have their personal trainers and other entourage members as well as their travel costs etc.

    Whilst many professional sports people appear to have large incomes, once the expense of their participation is factored in, the numbers don’t look all that large.

  18. Hi @dieterrencken, thank you for these info.
    Since you had the teams finance from last year, can you please break them down and add new column of info on how much drivers related sponsor brought to each team?

    Kubica surely bring far more than what the team return them back as salary. And I think Max getting far less than Daniel this year if we knew how many sponsor money Max bring to Red Bull.

  19. @dieterrencken, Do you know if healthcare expenses are deducted from the driver’s pay or if the amounts you’ve listed are after expenses? I’d imagine that an insurance policy for F1 personnel would be mighty expensive.

  20. how do they even get these prices? i know labor is a huge cost factor…..but those drivers seem to be taking too much out of the pot for their labor. the car wins races for the most part.

    1. But the rivalries and the personalities fill the stands, sell the satellite packages…

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      13th March 2019, 7:05

      Drivers do actually matter a lot. Just look at how Hamilton managed to claim the WDC while actually Vettel had the car to win it but threw it all away. For instance Vettel should have at least won in AZE, AUT, GER, ITA, SIN and USA instead of Hamilton but he didn’t. Mostly through crashing into other drivers or other silly mistakes. Those races alone cost him the WDC. Then there are FRA and JPN which ruined by silly mistakes and MAL where he simply ran into Stroll after the race.

      So I agree it begs the question why Vettel is getting that kind of money still. Perhaps this year the Ferrari will have an even bigger margin over the competition and then he can show that indeed he can win a WDC again in the fastest car from pole.

  21. no way KYV or GRO are getting those figures, and many drivers like KUB bring more sponsorship than they are paid so it it a little disingenuous

  22. Stroll is definitely being overpaid to the tune of about $6m in that case …

  23. Merchandise and commercials included?

  24. After the Australian Grand Prix, the cost in millions per championship point is:
    Bottas 0.32
    Magnussen 0.38
    Leclerc 0.40
    Verstappen 1.07
    Raikkonen 1.25
    Stroll 1.50
    Hulkenburg 1.67
    Hamilton 1.94
    Kvyat 2.00
    Vettel 2.50

  25. You neglect to mention that many on the grid are pay drivers…this year especially. To say Stroll makes 3 million a year is misleading, considering his father has spent close to 100 million to get him this far. The same can be said for both Williams drivers, as well as Kvyat, Perez, Russell, Gasley,etc.. All are pay drivers, their money coming from sponsors(Mainly from wealthy men or corporations that want to see someone from their country on the grid) or family sources.

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