How Much Do F1 (Formula One) Drivers Make?

a race car on a track

Formula One (F1) drivers are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, thanks to the sport’s status as the pinnacle of motorsport. However, their salaries may not be as high as those of athletes in other sports such as the MLB or NFL. F1 drivers’ salaries range from $1 million to $45 million per year, not including sponsorships or race bonuses.

This article answers several questions about F1 driver salaries, such as what goes into their salaries, whether there is a salary cap in the sport, who the highest and lowest-paid drivers are, and who has earned the most money from F1 racing.

F1 Driver Salaries

F1 driver salaries include base salaries, prize winnings, and sponsorships. However, it is challenging to accurately report how much each driver makes because teams keep their financial reports confidential. Some experts estimate drivers may double their base salary in prize money with exorbitant prize purses.

Salary Cap in Formula 1

In 2021, the FIA instituted a cost cap to increase parity in F1. This cap limits how much teams can spend on vehicles, car parts, development, and staff for the year. Currently, drivers’ costs and fees are not part of the cost cap, which means F1 teams can pay their drivers as much as they need. However, there is speculation about a future salary cap, estimated to be around $30 million, which would apply to most drivers, including those from Ferrari and McLaren, but not Red Bull Racing or Mercedes.

Highest Paid F1 Driver

Lewis Hamilton is the highest-paid driver in F1, with an estimated $200 million in earnings in 2021, including his $40 million base salary, sponsorships, and winnings. Max Verstappen, the world champion, is the second-highest earner, with a $25 million base salary with Red Bull Racing. Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris tie for the third highest-paid drivers, with an estimated $20 million each in base salary.

Lowest Paid F1 Driver

Rookie drivers on struggling teams usually earn less than their established counterparts. Yuki Tsunoda from Alpha Tauri is the lowest earner on the grid, with an estimated $750,000. Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi, and Mick Schumacher are the other drivers at the bottom of the earnings list, making a reported $1 million each in base salary.

F1 Driver with the Most Historical Earnings

With seven world championship finishes, Michael Schumacher is the highest earner in F1 of all time, with estimates of his total earnings exceeding $1 billion. Schumacher’s historic race dominance against some other racing greats, including Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen, is worthy of his substantial prize purses and notoriety in the sport.

Conclusion

Despite the huge amount of money in F1, drivers’ salaries vary widely, with established drivers earning more than rookie drivers. While there is no salary cap for drivers currently, a proposed salary cap of around $30 million is under consideration for the future.