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Who earns more, F1 drivers or footballers?
Who earns more, F1 drivers or footballers?
Posted By:   |  12 Feb 2009   |  1:29 pm GMT  |  7 comments

This is a question I have noticed that lot of my readers have been asking on search engines which have led them here, so I thought I’d do a quick post with the answer.

I had a word with a mate of mine who is an agent representing premiership footballers and I looked through my files on drivers and through the estimated figures in Formula Money, which has some good research into the financial side of the sport.

The answer is that the top drivers earn far more than the top premiership stars, but of course there are far more top footballers than F1 stars.

Top of the F1 tree is Kimi Raikkonen, who is believed to earn around $36 million £24m) per season, with Fernando Alonso on $24 million (£16m) and Lewis Hamilton understood to be on around £12 million. Jenson Button was trousering £12 million from Honda. Heikki Kovalainen gets around $5 million (£3.4m). A front of midfield driver, like Mark Webber, earns $4 million (£2.75m) with drivers like Kazuki Nakajima on around £500,000.

No premiership player is close to Raikkonen; the top earners like John Terry and Frank Lampard are on around £6 million per year, Steven Gerrard gets around £5 million. Christiano Ronaldo earns £4 million. Like F1, the sport rewards its stars disproportionately compared with the average competitor. The average premiership salary is £500,000 per year. All of these figures are for the salary, not including the endorsements that many drivers and players have.

So the bottom line is, the top premiership stars earn roughly the same as the midfield guys in F1.

It’s only a quick look at the picture, but hope that answers your question.

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Doesn't that mean that footballers are earning disproportionately more than F1 drivers?

Let me explain. On the one hand, you have a national league like the premiership. In it you have a few hundred players, earning a good whack. Multiply that by the number of top national leagues and that's a lot of footballers.

Contrast this with F1. It's one league for the whole globe. With only say 30 or so drivers.

What about the barriers to entry? The barriers to entry in football are very low. Lots of dedication and training when you're young can get you noticed by a club, who develop lots of kids and gradually discard the ones they're not interested in. You can enter the premiership just as you're entering your late teens.

Contrast that with F1. You need to have plenty of money to go karting and keep testing and competing. You then need to raise lots of sponsorship to progress, so you not only need to be a good practiced driver, but need to know an adult good at pitching to get the money in. You have to keep on going until you're in your very late teens to early twenties before F1 will look at you.


for some reason, hearing footballers wages of several grand a week still seems a lot more difficult to swallow than raikonnen's pay, even tho it works out at a fair bit less - it's $2m per race for kimi!


Such vast sums are obscene IMO .... but why anyone would throw £24m at Kimi for a season is just plain bananas.

Alonso is the best/most valuable driver on the grid, but I still wouldn't pay him such a big sum of money.

If only commentators and armchair pundits could do so well 😉


If you take into account the salary plus the endorsements Beckham earns then he will probably be close if not ahead of Raikkonen.

I think the best F1 drivers ought to earn substantially more than footballers; there are currently 18 F1 drivers so take into account how hard it must be to even get an F1 seat (admittedly more people play football than drive).

On top of that, F1 drivers put their lives on the line everytime they get into a car. I remember Michael Schumacher saying there were great risks when testing as the car is in an experimental mode and there is less safety people on hand.


The whole argument of players and drivers is that: business men, clubs and managers in F1/Premiership earn a lot of money because people want to see the players and the drivers compete. So why wouldn't these competitors not take earn money which only them are literally sweating for?

But i agree that it is still a huge amount of money for just running around, or turning a stearing wheel, no matter how good you are at it.


I think another aspect to add to this subject is the difference in how much a driver needs to invest to get into F1 level for quite long years and how much a football player...Alsonso, Raikkonen (and their family) did not have a very strong financial background before entering the top level of motor racing and didn't earn a penny probably.


Nice article, though Christiano Ronaldo definitely earns more than £4m.

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