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How much does an F1 driver earn?
How much does an F1 driver earn?
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Aug 2010   |  11:40 am GMT  |  167 comments

A little while ago I was contacted by Sports Illustrated magazine to help them out with information for an article they were preparing on F1.

One of the things they were interested in was the drivers’ salaries and how they have been affected by the financial crisis of the last two years.

This isn’t something I’ve really bothered with much in the past, but I did some asking around among people in F1 whose job it is to know this kind of information and I found it quite interesting. What we have here is by no means exhaustive and is based on best estimates of agents, managers and team figures. But it gives you a flavour.

Hamilton's deal was done at the peak in 2007 (Darren Heath)

As a rule, F1 drivers’ income is 70% retainer and 30% bonus, based on podiums, wins and championship position. Apparently Red Bull is the exception with 40% retainer and 60% bonus, which might partly explain why the driver who doesn’t win looks pretty down!

When it comes to money, it seems that like everything else, the team strives to give Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber equal treatment – they get around €3.5 million each in retainer and so could more than double that on current trends of results this season. Webber has won four races and leads the championship, while Vettel has won twice and is well within striking distance in the title race. But from my experience of the pair, I don’t think money is that strong a motivation. I think they are both highly motivated to win races and clinch the title with this exceptional car.

Towards the end of last season there was quite a bit of driver movement and the teams were trying hard to drive down the cost of retainers. It took place against the backdrop of the global financial crisis and the withdrawal of big spenders Toyota and BMW from the sport. The teams agreed a Resource Restriction Agreement, which does not include driver salaries or marketing, but you could tell that they were keen to get a grip on high retainers.

The driver’s agents were sharing information so that they didn’t get the wool pulled over their eyes. They and their clients were however forced to accept that retainers had to come down as part of a wider cost cutting programme, which has seen costs slashed in F1.

Lewis Hamilton was lucky to escape this squeeze, as his five year deal was signed at the peak of the economic cycle in Autumn 2007, after his sensational debut season. The total value of his contract is understood to be €50 million. He also has endorsements with Bombardier jets and Reebok totalling around €3 mill per year. So he could be described as ‘recession proof’.

Another big earner is obviously Fernando Alonso – he is quite difficult to assess as it’s hard to say how much of his retainer is paid by Ferrari and how much by Santander. The best estimates of the driver agents out there puts him on between €12m to 15m per season.

Felipe Massa has just renewed his Ferrari contract for two more seasons starting in 2011. His current three year deal was struck at the peak in 2007 and is a whopping €12 mill a year. I’m not sure whether he’s been able to keep it at that level, it may well be that he’s had to accept the new financial picture, especially in light of his performances.

Jenson Button moved to McLaren as world champion from Brawn for several reasons, which had to do with all kinds of things, including a dispute over a chassis. He is paid €8 million a year by McLaren – this is an increase on the approx €3 mill he received last year from Brawn but he was on around €7-8m in the Honda days.

Still one of the drivers collecting the most from an F1 team is Kimi Raikkonen, even though he’s not racing in F1 any more. His severance package from Ferrari for 2010 was €19 million, with a clause that if he found other employment the income would be offset. He is retained by Red Bull/Citroen at around €10m per year, so Ferrari pays €9 million. In the good old days Raikkonen was earning over €30 million a year from Ferrari. One wonders how long it will be before we see those kinds of salaries again. This is three times more than the most highly paid footballer.

Michael Schumacher is hard to assess, as Mercedes insist that he is not being paid the enormous sums he got in the Ferrari days, which was in excess of €25 million. His presence in the team has helped them to attract sponsors, so it’s unlikely he will be earning less than €10 million.

Most of the top seats are already confirmed for next year so there are likely to be very few major driver negotiations this year. It’s a quiet year for big driver deals.

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was just wonering if any F1 drivers pay taxes like normal people do in the uk. to me it feels a bit wrong that these sport stars can earn in excess of 10 million a year yet never pay tax on there earnings yet a factory worker in liverpool who gets paid £5 an hour still has 20% taken from them in tax. i know people will say that the drivers live in monaco/swiss or another tax haven yet when they win a grand prix its not the monaco or swiss anthem thats played and certainly not the monaco/swiss flag that gets raised for them. they seem happy to be British when they are winning but not when they are earning. proud to be british but not proud enought to pay taxes like every other brit, well almost every other.


how do people get a job in f1

Javier Menor de las Casas

Business Book GP

F.Alonso (Ferrari) 30 millones de euros

L.Hamilton (McLaren) 16 millones de euros

F.Massa (Ferrari) 14 millones de euros

J.Button (McLaren) 9 millones de euros

M.Schumacher (Mercedes GP) 8 millones de euros

N.Rosberg (Mercedes GP) 8 millones de euros

R.Kubica (Renault) 7,5 millones de euros

R.Barrichello (Williams) 5,5 millones de euros

M.Webber (Red Bull) 4,2 millones de euros

J.Trulli (Lotus) 3 millones de euros

S.Vettel (Red Bull) 2 millones de euros

H.Kovalainen (Lotus) 2 millones de euros

T.Glock (Virgin) 1 millón de euros

N.Hulkenberg (Williams) 700.000 euros

P.Martínez de la Rosa (Sauber) 500.000 euros

K.Kobayashi (Sauber) 500.000 euros

V.Petrov (Renault) 400.000 euros

S.Buemi (Toro Rosso) 400.000 euros

J.Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) 400.000 euros

A.Sutil (Force India) 200.000 euros

V.Liuzzi (Force India) 200.000 euros

L.Di Grassi (Virgin) 200.000 euros

B.Senna (Hispania) 150.000 euros

K.Chandhok (Hispania) 100.000 euros


The keyword here is ‘estimates’. People, please pay more attention to that.


I doubt Kimi is that worried about his salary, he has made so much money and achieved so much success he has nothing left to prove. It is far more likely that he moved to rally because he could spend more time doing what he enjoyed and less time doing things like PR which he didn’t enjoy.


spike thanks for the info. Kimi’s deals have been incredible right from the off. His guys are certainly very good. I really felt for Kimi last year in that he was getting a lot of heat in a car that was just poor. I have always been of the opinion that the car and the backroom staff get nowhere the credit deserved and the drivers get way too much. A lot of it is the car…look at Schuey now, Alonso in the Renault and Webber and Vettel in a good car this year. I think the percaentages between the drivers in ability are really quite small but the big elephant in the room and intangiable is the car that is put beneath them. I really hope Kimi comes back to make things interesting…


I agree with you there mate. Which is why one of the drivers that has impressed me the most this year is Kobayashi. If he doesnt get a good seat next year I am going to be seriously pissed.



at least the field is evening out by having someone else take the spoils in car development (Red Bull) Imagine what it will be like once you get competitive drivers in competitive cars. Kimi has to be part of that mix. The Red Bull guys at each others throats is great entertainment. More than that, it is the transparency forced on corporate sponsors (Ferrari) when with all things being equal, a decision is forced and we are all there to see it. Alonso ‘s rant on Massa was crude, but we got to see how it really works under the covers. Horner has got some serious issues coming his way in a guy that is not going to shut up (webber)and trying to push an agenda from Austira whilst giving an assemblence of control. Fascinating. Kimi would add more to the drama no matter where he goes!!! Kobayashi is turning all logic on its head, he is for real!! he is going to have to get a ride with someone but I think the issue will be can he play nice with others. No elite driver is going to want him around constantly pushing-unless there is predetermined agreement at team level as to whats going to happen with team orders (read Ferrari)


I went to Alton Towers yesterday and went on a ride that boasted in went 0-60 in 2 seconds.

As I understand it, that’s a similar level to an F1 car … except they’re not on rails and are racing each other! Certainly gave me a new perspective.

Not convinced it makes them worth the money … but it is mind blowing what they do.


The heck with the drivers make. How much do the Journo’s and Commentators make? haha


It does seem that F1 drivers’ salaries have gone down since the heyday of Schumi at Ferrari when he was getting 30 million+ dollars a year in retainer. I think Kimi benefited from that as well, as for many years he was considered to be the top rival to MS (particularly when first hired by Ferrari to replace MS).

Part of the reason why drivers’ salaries are more sensitive to market forces is they are not unionised. Driver’s agents sharing information is probably the closest thing to unionisation they have ever tried.

Most professional team sports in the U.S. are unionised. They have even had work stoppages. That enables NBA players for example to earn $20 million+ a year. And the lowest paid NBA player sitting on the bench makes more than a million $ a year.


NBA’s Top 20 Player Salaries (09-10)
Player Team $(million)

1. Tracy McGrady Houston Rockets ~ 23.4
2. Kobe Bryant LA Lakers ~ 23.2
3. Jermaine O’Neal Miami Heat ~ 22.8
4. Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs ~ 22.2
5. Shaquille O’Neal Cleveland Cavaliers ~ 20

Baseball Top 3
1. Alex Rodriguez, $ 33,000,000
2. CC Sabathia $ 24,285,714
3. Derek Jeter, $ 22,600,000


No wonder they all want to drive for Ferrari!


I can see why no one wants Kimi, 1 championship and he wants to be paid like he has won 7. Redbull looks like they have the correct structure in place and this would be why Webber will only sign 1 year contracts at the momment.


The Robertsons does all of the talking for Kimi when it comes to money deals. He was going to join McLaren for less money this year and would have taken a hefty pay cut but wouldnt sell himself for peanuts of course. But then the Citroen/Red Bull opportunity opened up and he went for that. Rally dream + full severance from Ferrari. No arguing there.


I love Kimi, his ability to stay quiet yet blow everyone away in the salary stakes is fantastic. His exit from Ferrari is the stuff dreams are made of, who is his agent?. That was a hell of a deal. Of course this presupposes that Kimi is all about the cash. I really don’t think he is. That finnish mentality certainly has people second guessing his character, motive and agenda. I think he is just a racer that got a dog of a car last year. If the situation was right does it preempt a return to F1 for him??


His managers are the legendary Robertsons. So blame them for all the money 🙂 They are the true architects behind his awesome deals ever since he got into F1 and now WRC.

If there is a seat open in a winning car in 2012, Im sure Kimi will give it some good thought. Especially if he has had his fill of rallying then. 2011 is marked for rally though.


According to some information in the German press, Red Bull offers Vettel the chance to extend his contract to 2015, with a $2 million yearly raise, from$18 million in 2013 to $22 million in the last year of contract.

More than this, it is rumored that the new deal could include a 3-year contract extension clause, meaning that Vettel would stay at Red Bull until 2018, if he accepts the new offer.



Thanks for this – very interesting reading.

Perhaps my brain/mentality works differently to other people – but I’ve never personally understood how Formula One drivers can walk away from potential championship winning cars, purely on a difference of opinion over ‘more money than you can possibly need’ against ‘more money than you can possibly need, plus a bit more’.

They spend so many years struggling in the junior series – and finally get that amazing, unique break to be a Formula One driver, and not only that, one of the elite to have competitive cars – and then walk away to America “due to circumstance beyond my control” or end up driving for Arrows.

I can never understand it.

Mansell could, in my view, have picked up at least one more title (Prost couldn’t work the clutch or get the best of the requirements of the Williams active ride in 1993) – and yet, Mansell (who had sat in corrosive fuel and suffered chemical burns to get an F1 drive at the start of his career) walked away from a championship winning car over money. If you believe what the Williams team have said in the past, Damon did much the same in 1996.

I’d always question at what point in the career does the switch and motivation go from wanting to win… to wanting to earn vast sums of money – and… how does driver management remuneration feature in that process?

As I say at the beginning – perhaps I have a strange view of the World, but I just can’t understand how you can finally be in a position to win a Formula One World Championship, and yet walk away from that over differences in salary numbers that, in the real world, are actually pretty meaningless.


Organisational theory suggests that money as a motivating factor is actually far lower than most people would expect. It also tends to provide diminishing returns, i.e. offer an F1 driver a £1m bonus and he might score a few more points but he’s unlikely to score ten times that many if you offer £10m.

Driver salaries often get conflated with status and standing within a team and I suspect the latter two are generally more important. Most top drivers demand a large salary – not because money is their main motivator, but as a proxy for their status in the sport and their personal standing in the team, especially relative to other drivers.

The Nigel Mansell/Williams saga in 1992 is a case in point. As you say, Mansell was a highly motivated competitor who put himself through many hardships in his career to get to the top – he remortgaged his house to pay for an F3 drive and later drove with various injuries. So why di he walk away from a near-certain second title at the end of 1992, seemingly because Williams wouldn’t satisfy his pay demands?

Consider the context. Mansell’s former Ferrari team mate Alain Prost had signed for Williams earlier in the year and taken up a fair chunk of the team’s driver budget. When Nigel wrapped up his championship he expected a new deal comensurate with his new status – and certainly on a level with Prost’s. But Williams had long pursued a policy of investing in their cars, not drivers’ egos, baulked at Mansell’s demands. Bearing in mind that Ayrton Senna had offered to drive for Williams for nothing, Williams weren’t exactly desperate for drivers.

In the end, Mansell needed to feel that he had the same standing as Prost within Williams and accepting a much lower salary was not compatible with that need. Ultimately, it was a dispute over status not money. Nigel took a pay cut to go to CART, where he put in some stunning performances until his equipment became uncompetitive.


You are right.

Another case is (possibly) Kimi Räikkönen negotiating with McLaren in 2009 for a 2010 drive.

In my opinion he cannot accept an offer which is not on-par with what Lewis Hamilton is getting. If the offer is substantially less than what Hamilton is getting and Kimi would accept it then it would place him below Hamilton in team hierarchy based on salary. And that in my opinion should not happen.

I have no idea what happened there with Kimi and McLaren but this is one point that should be considered as a possible reason for failure between Kimi and McLaren to reach an agreement – he could not accept being considered worth less than Hamilton and therefore could not accept any contract which would imply he is worth less than Hamilton.


I must add that in this point too the main thing would not be money but being on-par with the other driver in the team in terms of salary.


Incredible post. I was going to say essentially the same thing, but you did it much better. Thank you.


Good point. Williams have always valued a wdc title less than the drivers perception.

Mansell, hill etc.

Maybe why they’re still in business 🙂



I agree. It seems that drivers want recognition more than anything else.

I believe the negotiations that D Hill had with Williams were rather more complex than the revelations from the team suggest. But Walkinshaw, I believe, offered him substantially more than FW was prepared to do and I don’t think Hill felt he had many more years left in the sport.

Perhaps they both made misjudgements: Hill thought he had another chance of winning and TWR thought Hill gave him a chance of gaining sponsorship. If so, they were both way off.

He seemed a different driver in the Arrows, more relaxed, not the normal state of a TWR driver.

The impression I got was that he wanted to drive in a team that Villeneuve did not. The lack of mind games?

But FW and PH do have strange attitudes to drivers. Perhaps both Hill and Mansell didn’t want to work in an environment where they were viewed as a bolt-on accessory? If the WDC doesn’t give your the ability to choose what’s the point of winning?


Hill was booted out of Williams, the Arrows deal was the best deal he could land in the circumstances


I seem to remember Senna offering his services to Williams for nothing,how times have changed eh?


Let’s not forget that Senna came from a very wealthy family and was rumored to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars at the time of his death.


Thats quite true,my point was to say a driver should not just go where they pay the most,Senna was already an established driver and could have asked for a considerable salary,but its the car he wanted to drive above anything else.



I’m always interested to see the Ferrari salaries.

They have for quite some time paid big retainers on drivers. Were Eddie Irvine and Rubens on £10m plus when at Ferrari?

Similarly I remember hearing that Gerhard and Jean earned big money (even when Ferrari were not winning).

At the end of the day, you pay what you want to pay your drivers dont you.

For me, they are worth what someone is willing to pay them (same as football, basketball). If the media generated interest in the sports are high, the revenues are high, and you go out to get hold of the best you can.


Full list of F1 2009 driver salaries:

1. Kimi Raikkonen $45m

2. Lewis Hamilton $18m

3. Fernando Alonso $15m

4. Nico Rosberg $8.5m

5. Felipe Massa $8m

6. Jarno Trulli $6.5m

7. Sebastian Vettel $6m

8. Mark Webber $5.5m

9. Jenson Button $5m

10. Robert Kubica $4.5m

11. Heikki Kovalainen $3.5m

12. Nick Heidfeld $2.8m

13. Timo Glock $2m

14. Giancarlo Fisichella $1.5m

15. Sébastien Buemi $1.5m

16. Rubens Barrichello $1m

17. Jaime Alguersuari $0.5m

18. Vitantonio Liuzzi $Nil

19. Adrian Sutil $Nil

20. Romain Grosjean $Nil

21. Kazuki Nakajima $Nil



33,.. Or some similar such ultra reliable source I expect. 🙂


Probably this:

I can’t asses how reliable it is…


It would be nice to get a run down on much the support staff gets paid in F1. Not the team managers and such, but the actual support staff like mechanics (at the race track and back at the factory), engineers at the factory, etc.


I thought Kimi only got the Citroen drive thanks to Red Bull, so I can’t imagine Citroen paying him that much (especially as he still has a nice income from Ferrari).


Hey why are my comments are being filtered out? My posts aren’t even mildly provocative!


You say they are not motivated by money, James, but I would suggest it would be more accurate to say that their main motivation is not money. Given how protracted the negotiations can be, it must be high on their to do list.

#2: screw team for everything I can get out of it.

Over the years is has been evident that for some drivers money has seemed to be all but the sole motivation. One thinks of Eddie Irvine.

I was sitting at Bridge the day Schumacher broke his legs at Stowe. In the hiatus that followed, and when it was apparent that his injuries were serious, one Irish fan in Ferrari corporate gear reckoned that it was; ‘Eddie’s chance at last to show what he’s capable of.’

This started a conversation in the group and our conclusion was that Eddie would be terrified as the last thing he wanted was to actually win the WDC and give people expectations of him. If each day you do a little more than is expected of your, soon more will be expected of you.

Harsh, but the only dissenter was the lass whose comments had initiated the conversation. She said time would show us who was right. And we all were.

I had an interesting chat with a somewhat sozzled ex Brabham mechanic who was of the opinion that Nelson Piquet’s motivator was money. He reckoned that during the seasons when he had #1 on his car he just cruised around, leaving his mechanics and team to work into the night to try and find out what was wrong with the car.

I’ve no idea as to whether this is true or not but the chap was quite bitter about the way he felt he’d been treated by a driver the ‘all but worshipped’. It seemed he had an expensive lifestyle which included a 100m yacht. Nice.

What is true is that Piquet kept his most inspired driving for when he was in the Benetton on a money for points basis.

Given how much they pay mechanics, these huge sums for drivers seem to verge on the obscene.

Many drivers have said over the years that they would driver for free for some teams. Easy to say but, evidently, difficult to do as so few of them choose this option.

Still good luck to them. If the teams are willing to pay these sums then the drivers would be idiotic to refuse.


Interesting article as always James. As most people have stated i’d be interested in what the drivers earn lower down the grid. I seem to remember a f1 driver arriving in the paddock in a Fiat Cinquecento a few years ago!

For those wondering about that Button dispute with Brawn, google ‘Jenson Button sues Mercedes’.


I obtained a copy of Williams 2002 accounts from Companies House, and they listed drivers’ earning and expenses as £9,414,014. The wages bill for the other 452 employees came to £23,699,403, and the two directors earned £3,353,376 including pension costs.

These were the most detailed set of accounts I’ve ever seen for an F1 team (possibly filed by mistake), and list the costs of everything from stationery and advertising, to sponsorship income and an exact figure for prize money.

If you want an insight into the financial workings of an F1 team, then I’d highly recommend buying a copy – it only cost a £1.


The chassis issue was that he was promised the car he won the title in but then brawn backed out of it.

The pay drivers I believe are just that they pay to drive at the weekend through sponsorship money. And live of prize money if their lucky


I wish I was an F1 driver!! WOW!


I would really love to see some kind of chart showing the connection between pilot income ( or “fee” for “paying” pilots ) and points earned, or “cost per point” for each pilot…

For instance, Sutil has about the same number of points than one of his countrymen, but I would guess there is a huge salary difference !


More questions for exploration – how much do people like team managers, engineers, mechanics, truck drivers,TV presenters / pundits and race control staff earn?


Does Massa give a cut from his earnings to Alonso as well?


He gets a bonus whenever he lets Alonso overtake him! ;P


Hi james

Its good to know about driver salaries. But what about the CREW? an further insight about them would be helpful.


Its sad that most of these drivers are so boring. Gone are the days where drivers had real passion. They were emotional and were expressive in their words and behind the wheel.

Massa needs to grow a pair and good on Webber for expressing his views. Need more like him.


Great article James but please do something on the salaries of the drivers lower down the grid. In some ways it would be more interesting as I bet some of them could earn more money outside of F1 but stay in the hope they’ll move up the grid. Long term, I’m sure having been an F1 driver can only enhance your earning potential but I wonder what sacrifices they make.


To change up the debate: I love F1 but to say it has the best drivers in the world is a false statement. Its the only sport (please note: I do not follow other racing series) that has driver’s who pay for a spot on the team. Imagine a Manchester goalie playing to be be first string or even a bench player. It doesn’t happen… not even on the economically challenged teams. If you good enough you make it to the big leagues and you get paid to perform. So F1 has the top drivers that are paid handsomly for their skill but a good percentage of the grid is made up of drivers that have a name to attract sponsors (Bruno Senna comes to mind)and has the financial support behind to buy a seat. There could be loads of more talented drivers who can’t get tot he F1 level because they don’t have the financial backing. Its the pinnacle of motorsport when it comes to the development and technical skill behind the car but from the driver’s perspective things need to change. Only the best drivers should be given a seat and it has to be earned… not purchased.


I don’t know if you’ve paid any attention but even Bruno Senna deserves a place on the F1 grid. Petrov is paid in as well and he definitely deserves a place with or without financial backing.

Pay drivers only come in because the team that hires them needs the money. The exceptionally talented drivers will of course, for the most part, be picked up by bigger teams anyway.

Look at Hulkenburg – Picked up by Williams yet Senna and Petrov, who he raced with in GP2 have had to buy their way in. There really isn’t a great deal of difference between those 3 as drivers.

Some pay drivers are obviously useless but they don’t ever last long.


I understand and agree with what you are saying. BUT… Can’t be said that the sport has the best drivers when a portion are “useless.” I understand the need from the small teams but my point is still valid. There are better drivers out there that deserve a shot but may not have the same backing. I think Heidfeld should be driving. I rather see a full line-up of great drivers that are pushing the heck out of the car then a bunch of pylons whose race has the sole purpose of moving out of the way all the time.


The situation is the same or worse in most other racing series (the possible exceptions being NASCAR and the top levels of series with other car categories such as WTCC). The combination of this and having more people want to compete in it in the first place than those aforementioned rivals is why F1 is generally said to have the best drivers. There are a few individuals who arguably aren’t among the fastest 24 in the world but broadly speaking, F1’s claim to “the best drivers in the world” is the best among motorsport series.

The “pylon” effect is a function of the sheer quality in both drivers and machinery in F1. They are pushing the very boundaries of the sport, so being a touch slow has a big effect.


What are the F1 drivers’ professional financial obligations over a year? An F1 licence I believe doesn’t come cheap, but what else? Personal trainers/ physios? 1st class travel? How much of what they earn directly from salaries from their teams – setting aside personal promotional and advertising work – is, of necessity, paid back into it in one way or another?


Interesting article James – but other folks’ money often is 🙂

As I understand it, not all of the £X-million makes it to the driver’s bank account. They have to pay the folks in their entourage. How many of the assorted people around a typical F1 driver are provided (and paid for) by the team, and how many by the driver? It would seem obvious that managers, personal trainers and perhaps a PA would be paid for by the driver, but who else and does it vary by team? From what I’ve seen, F1 isn’t so much a complicated business, as a set of complicated businesses…

Oh, and I’d also like to hear more about the chassis issue between Jenson and Brawn GP.


What is interesting is the difference between drivers and we wonder why there are many egos in the paddock… even though none of them do it for the money!!!

Seriously they earn every penny, not only do They have to balance the line between sensible driving and an accident, keeping that line as thin as possible, they can’t get much rest with sponsor and fan time as well as understanding what it takes to win 18+ times a year.

I have two questions… what are the typical perks, Personal trainer, Watch, Car etc. and what do the test and back-up drivers receive?



I guess we all had the same reaction to this post.

What about the others?

I imagine there are no limits on personal endorsements, providing there is no conflict with team sponsors.

Just out of curiosity James,

Any idea which driver endorses the most products?

I’m guessing that’s where the serious money is.


Not really, the retainer and bonus seems to be where the moneys is


James – you wouldn’t care to elaborate on the ‘chassis issue’ involved in JB’s move to McLaren please?


Loved the article. Did a little digging earlier this year in regards to pole/win bonus money. I couldn’t find anything. How much is a point worth James? How much a win? How much is pole worth to a driver? I understand every contract is different, but I would love to know.



I remember reading an article the lowest was 250,000 euros and of course Kimi being the highest paid.

A comparison was made between F1 drivers and footballers.

On the average it’s a bout 5,000,000 euros if I’m not wrong.

Racing passion must supersede money.

Getting paid more dosen’t make a driver faster.

Am curious to know Kobayashi’s salary.


Very interesting piece James. What happens when a driver is incapacitated for a major part of the season from an accident on track? Are there clauses to have the same retainer or is it modified?

And is the driver’s immediate family covered in the unfortunate event of a fatality?


And who is paying the “Citroen” salary? Red Bull or Citroen?


Ingsightful as always James. What was the chassis issue between Jenson & Brawn/Mercedes? The impression given for the move to McLaren was that Brawn/Mercedes didn’t seem to value him, considering he’d just won the driver’s championship.


Here’s an article that outlines the Jenson/Brawn chassis case:


I think he wanted the chassis he won his world championship in as a memento but Brawn/Mercedes wouldn’t let him. I read somewhere he was suing them over it? Not sure how true this is.


Thanks for a very informative article. Quite an eye opener, especially when you point out how it compares to the footballers, who’s salaries are often complained about.

Out of interest, are there any where you think the money has gone to their heads? Are there any who are noticeably more flashy, or are very generous with their money? You’ve mentioned some charity events before.

Is this vastly more than team bosses and the rest of the team?


i heard vettel was on 10 mill, webber 5 mill


I heard Vettel got 8 mil base + 4 mil sponsorship/bonus from RBR as long as he gets top 3 in the Championship.


I heard it was 10.38 mil


Before or after Bonus’ ?


Really interesting article, thanks very much.

I have always wondered whether Formula One drivers have CVs. I know in the media we always see headlines like ‘Webber adds impressive Monaco win to his CV’ for example, but do they actually have one, and are CVs used in the F1 paddock? I know a lot of the drivers have agents and managers to deal with their contract negotiations and things, but when it comes to a driver looking to move teams or approaching a team having heard that there might be a vacancy do they ‘apply’ for the job in the same sort of way as Joe Public might apply for any job? What’s the process involved there?

I seem to remember Martin Brundle once saying in a feature he did for TV that he used to send his CV to Ferrari every single year he was still racing in the hope of being considered for a seat but he may well have been joking (shame, I would have liked to have seen Martin in a Ferrari!).


I doubt it, they don’t really apply so much as are headhunted for the posts.

Perhaps drivers who haven’t yet made it into F1 may have a sort of CV with their driving achievements thus far (mainly paydrivers who wouldn’t be actively hunted as such).

Don’t forget the high requirements for a superlicense – they must have so many achievements to be even considered.


It would be really interesting to find out more about driver-management-team negotiations as obviously we never get to see that, only hear about the deal after it has been done. I can imagine the process might be quite interesting. For me the ‘silly season’ is one of the most intriguing things about the sport.


It’s a true story.

And they were gracious enough to reply albeit not with a contract.

However, I’m not sure how Martin would have handled the team politics. By his own admission he is very much his own man. And all the better for it.


Given that the rallying move was a 1 year deal, why are Citreon paying as much as 10MM/yr? Surely they could have offered him 1MM/yr and left Ferrari to pay the rest.


Or Kimi could have done it for Free to get one over on Ferrari!


It is interesting that F1 is supposed to be such a mega sport worldwide, but there are many, many football players — soccer and American football — plus baseball and basketball and other atheletes who make more money than the F1 drivers.


And there’s only 2 drivers and a reserve to a team! So while it may seem like a lot compared to the wages of a football teams players it’s probably relatively cheap.


It is interesting, James, that F1 is supposed to be such a mega sport worldwide, but there are many, many football players — soccer and American football — plus baseball and basketball and other atheletes who make more money than the F1 drivers.

Baseball players we’ve never heard of sign multi-year retainers that dwarf those of many of the drivers.


Could you provide any examples? I quicky searched on Google, and without putting a lot of effort into it found some ‘top 10’ listings for sports earners. Kimi was at #3 or #4 on there, and Lewis Hamilton was also on a couple of the top 10 lists.


The contracts in American Sports are higher on an overall basis, but don’t match F1 on a per year basis. For example, the highest paid sportsman in the US is Alex Rodriguez of the NY Yankees. His contract is $275m, but it is for 10 years, at $27.5m per year (EUR 21.3m).

Only the careers of Rubens and Schumacher can match the longevity of baseball players. But you can argue that baseball players earn their money compared to other sports stars, as there are over 160 games in a season


But most F1 drivers pay little tax while American athletes pay a lot. Considering the taxes, I don’t think any top American athletes but Woods can match top F1 drivers’ income.


American athletes make obscene amounts of money, esp. from endorsements.

Check out SI’s Fortunate 50 list:


would a “pay driver” like sakon yamamoto actually receive any money from his team directly, or would it come from his sponsors input to the team?


Maybe his busfare home after each race 😉


I’d be really interested to hear the answer to this. The deal with the smaller teams and pay drivers is probably more interesting to me than the money drivers.



Does this article also cover the amounts that drivers are bringing with them in order to fund their seats? Petrov, de la Rosa etc?


Another excellent article, James, thank you.

Although it was relatively well known that the “Top-Guns” of the sport earn the huge amounts that they deserve, I’d be very interested to know how much a solid midfield driver like Adrian Sutil earns in a season. Does Force India pay him a salary (albeit a much reduced one from that of Lewis et al), or is his seat a paid-drive, with his personal sponsorship deals paying for him to be in that seat?


interesting article.. I was aware that the F1 drivers were on large amounts of money, Jensons HUGE transfer contract at Honda made headlines. the Ferrari wages don’t surprise me much,

However, why the referance to footballers wages.

There is no comparison.

The workload, athletic requirement, maintained pressure, heart rate, bp, commitment.

A driver has to have all the above, I’m sure there isn’t a footballer in the world who could anywhere near compete with them.

Not to mention the risk, even though I did.

In my opinion the current salaries and incentive scheme is justified, although the double figure millions is a bit overboard.


The top money drivers are the most marketable – because they’re won a championship or have a huge fan base in their country. So while they’re costing the teams a lot they’re probably better value for money than some of the lower paid drivers who aren’t as marketable and score less points. Still – pretty crazy money involved.


Hi there.. Interesting stuff, thanks. Crazy money though really. I know they risk their lives, but other occupations do that to, and arguably for bigger and better causes.

Anyway, at risk of sounding like a tree hugger…

What about the drivers at the back?

Or, the “pay drivers”?

Do they still get bonuses for points etc?



Interesting article. I notice all the salaries seem to be paid in Euros nowadays. When did F1 change from using the US dollar as their currency of choice I wonder?


I think they switch when the US dollar became a third world currency.


I automatically read it as Dollars, didn’t realise it was Euro’s until i read your post! Good point though.


always intresting to see whos earning what at the top, id be just as intrested in hear what the new kids (and older boys at lotus) are being paid at the back of the grid


I think the top teams have drivers under contract so no big moves near.

I think the next guy in line to have a big contract will be Seb Vettel at the end of his actual contract with Red Bull we might see some big offers for him.

James great post card for the Belgium grand prix that Red Bull photo and the catch me if you can…at the home page, great stuff like always!!


Great insight thanks James. Do you think this Red Bull bonus system could be why Vettel ‘collects’ fastest laps?


Interesting reading but how about drivers further down the grid, how much do the likes of the Force India and Torro Rosso drivers earn, and what about the likes of the rookies such as Petrov or Senna, do they even get paid anything out of the sponsorship they bring the teams?


Is Raikkonen retained by Citroen or sponsors Red Bull? The latter is always cited as the reason he will be returning with the F1 team.


It’s both. His co-driver Kaj gets him the Citroen contract, in which Citroen pays him; while Red Bull pays for his car and exposure for PR.

Anyway it’s a good deal considering top WRC drivers earns like 1-2 mil per year except for Loeb.


i was just wondering about these pay to drive drivers. how much do they pay for there seat? It hardly seems fair sometimes when you look at the money the top drivers are earning and some guys have to pay.


Pay drivers don’t pay because they’d get into F1 on merit – they pay because that’s the only way they’ll get into F1.


This isn’t true. For a driver to come in to F1 they normally have to drive for a small team, who need funds. The small team is therefore more likely to take a driver who can bring money to the team than one who cannot.

Good drivers generally bring with them a fair amount of financial whack from sponsors… Agreed, there are some who pay because they can’t do it otherwise but I think if you look at Petrov’s performance this season you’ll see that it is definitely not only bad drivers who buy their way in.


Let’s not forget Alonso was a pay driver at Minardi (the rest is history) and Webber would have been a payer if he had a penny, Stoddart felt sorry for the Aussie and gave him what would normally be a $1m oppotunity.


Yep, didn’t say it was only bad drivers – said it was drivers who can only get on the grid in the first place if they bring money.

I.e. ‘we’ll pass over Nick H for 5 mil of Russian oil money.’

Petrov looks to be on his way out even with the money – agree not a bad driver though.


So what about the “pay drivers”? How do these guys bring the bread home? Is it solely on personal sponsership and residual sponsership money which the team does not require?


That’s interesting although once you’re talking 10 mil plus it’s a lot of money, and we all know the drivers mentioned earn ‘a lot of money’ whether this is less than 3 years ago or not.

What would be interesting to know is what the drivers in the lesser teams get (excluding pay drivers).



I remember some interesting facts I read from way back in 2002 about Schumacher’s earnings.

In 2002 he was paid $35m per year by Ferrari, plus bonuses, endorsements and merchandising. That year 300,000 of his driver caps were sold at $30 a piece ($9m). The deal penned with DVAG was around $8m.

According to Forbes, Schumacher’s earnings peaked at $80m in 2003, by which time he was paid $40m by Ferrari.

They estimate his total earnings since his F1 debut in 1991 to be around $700m.

One article suggests that his 2010 (not the entire 3 year contract) retainer with Mercedes is actually €25, not the €7m that was initially projected. This however, isn’t paid by Mercedes themselves but rather his sponsors.


Interesting article James!

I never knew that the salary is divided into retainer and bonus though was aware of the fact that there were exceptions. Kimi Raikkonen’s “out clause” was one of the reasons why other teams failed to make him happy by filling his wallet because anyhow he was getting money for doing nothing.

Miss him though!

The Kitchen Cynic

Keen to hear more about Button’s dispute over a chassis…


See above links.

It was a contractual dispute around whether or not Jenson should recieve his actual WDC winning car.

They settled it not too long back


He had a clause that if he won the world championship he would get to keep the winning car, but Mercedes (nee Brawn) didn’t want to give it to him.

In the end they gave it him, but only after he filed a suit in the courts.


They (Brawn) had agreed to give him the chassis if he won the championship. He did and they, as Merc, decided not to let him have it. He threatened legal action and they have now given it to him.


I have to wonder what sort of bonus teams pay for following a team order to let your team mate past?!?


So they drive the best machineries available on the planet and can buy any thing they want. I think I envy formula 1 riders 🙂


James, I’d seen most of these numbers for the ‘headline’ drivers in F1 before. I’d be really interested to know what the drivers in the lower echelons might be earning, and how much difference there might be between the rookies and the experienced drivers.

So for instance, Sauber (/BMW) has had a torrid time in just surviving this year. It seems unlikely to me that they could pay seven figure sums to their drivers. And Lotus has two very experienced hands on board, but my guess would be that those drivers would be more concerned about staying in an F1 seat than about squeezing the last € out of a new team. Can you fill in any (even approximate) numbers here?

Also, I’m interested that you quote the McLaren drivers’ salaries in €. Are €-based budgets standard across F1 teams?


I’m intrigued. Does anyone know what Jensons dispute over chassis was with Brawn/Mercedes?

Great article as ever James.


I appreciate the chassis story made all the headlines, but apart from something to fill a spare room in his new house, I can’t see it being a deal-breaker.

I thought the problems started when a verbal understanding of Button receiving an equity share in the team failed to materialise. As Brawn and Fry dragged their feet on giving-up a percentage, Jenson felt betrayed, and started sniffing about Woking.

Now that, I can see causing someone to switch teams, not a rolling chassis. Anyone heard anything one way or the other on that?


You miss Ross negotiating with Norbert to bring back Mercedes 9 months ( or much, much earlier) before Button wins the WDC and then starts to negotiate for next year. Jenson was never wanted for Merc as a German ( Niko)was already signed for 2010 and they didn’t want to announce MSC and dump the WDC. They wanted him to walk and I shouldn’t expect he was offered any 2010 contract. I also expect Michaels neck problem was pure lies as he already had a Merc contract.


Jenson, as part of his (seriously reduced in value) contract, had a clause that he would be given his actual championship winning car -if he won the championship – as we know he did, Brawn stalled for a while, then offered a replica but eventually he got his actual car 🙂

only link I can find quickly-


He must have had a nostradamus moment when he put that clause in.


did he actually sign it after the first tests or before?

I imagine Ross’s response to that clause in his contract was, “Yes, and you can have two space rockets to take you to the private moon we’ll also buy you if you win the WDC” 🙂

What a stellar year for those guys. I remember seeing the expression on JBs face after he did the first test in the Brawn. He knew it from the first couple of runs.


No, I think they were quite confident


I believe in his contract with Brawn he was to receive a chassis if he won the world championship. Brawn said they didn’t have enough and couldn’t give him one so he took (or threatened to take) them to court. I think it has all been resolved now.


Basically, JB wrote into his Brawn contract that if he won the WDC he could keep a BGP-001 chassis. After winning the WDC, Brawn were not forthcoming and JB sued in April for £1m. Brawn/MGP subsequently settled and gave him a chassis – it would seem that they just wanted to protect their intellectual property for as long as possible as JB was at McLaren…


A provision in his contract said that should he win the driver’s championship that year, he would be entitled to keep one of the race cars he used to win the championship.

Instead of giving him one of the genuine race cars Button was offered a replica with which he flat out rejected and then filed a lawsuit for breach of contract.

Unsurprisingly, Brawn has been held to the terms of the contract and Jenson received his BGP 001 which probably sits in the garage next to his SLS.


In a nutshell, they didn’t want to give it to him.


Button had a clause in his contract which stated that he would get a Brawn chassis were he to win the driver’s championship.

They tried to give him a replica instead and so Button took them to court…


Great read – got to admire Kimi … he’s got everything he can out of F1. Good on him.


Really interesting article! Would love to read more stuff like this. For example, how drive moves are conducted? Button to McLaren, Alonso to Ferrari etc.

On a side note, if Hamilton’s contract is €50m a year, is it a 5 year deal? I think I remember reading somewhere that it was, so is he on €10m, i.e. slightly more than Button?

Would you say that Alonso is the highest-paid current driver on the grid (based on mid-season performance so far)?




Read again. The article says total value of the Contract is 50 million euros


You talk about the highly paid drivers, but what about those at the other end of the grid – what sort of salaries are they on?


Just like the rest of the economic cycle, driver salaries move with the times. Nothing wrong with that… it makes complete sense. What is interesting is the distribution paid over at RB. If I was Webber, I would drive that car for free, it is that good. If you get a championship out of it, what’s that worth? One would also have to question whether Ferrari consider they are getting their money’s worth from Felippe this season. He has looked a shadow of his previous self this season. Good point about Kimi… I forgot that Ferrari are still paying him. I wonder if Alonso ever thinks about the seat he has that is paid money to someone else no longer there? Funny.


I suspect every driver on the grid (and many more who aren’t) would drive that Red Bull for free. I know I would!



Thanks for this James – an interesting read. I’m curious as to how much the drivers of teams further down the field get, if anything at all when it comes to bringing money to teams, etc…


What about the mid and low level teams do you know what they get paid?


Hi James,

Good piece of research, as always.

Any idea on what proportion of the drivers are actually paying for their seats? Gary Paffett was complaining before the season started that nothing less than 5m (EUR, or GBP?) will secure a seat nowdays.

Are there any drivers in between the high-flyers and the paying drivers that simply do with a more “modest” salary (e.g. people like Sutil and Glock)?


Nice post James, the thing i’m also interested in is how much are the drivers further down the grid paying? Any insight on that?


They are very lucky, not only do they have the best job in the world, but they also get paid well for it! Yes, I am a little jealous.


Very interesting! My understanding of Kimi’s arrangement was that Ferrari would pay €19m if Kimi didn’t race in F1 which was why he balked at the €8m offer from McLaren/Toyota. Sit at home and be paid €19m or be obligated to do 50 days of commercial promotions for €8m!

I’m also surprised at the €10m Citroen figure. Seems high considering he’s in the junior team and the team is funded by Red Bull.


Kimi gets far less than 10 mil from Citroen. He only gets a free car (probably paid by Red Bull) and approximately 70-80k per race from Citroen. So it’s around 1 mil from Citroen per year. Red Bull definitely pays him several millions, but I will be more than surprised if he gets anything more than 5 mil from his WRC adventure in total.


u are right. His severance would have been halvd had he raced in f1. So he wil be paid the full 19m since he not racing in f1. Another of james points that i dont agree with is schumacher is paid. I think his package is close to 20m excluding sponsorships. I doubt michael would have came out of retirement for 10m since he is worth over half a billion


I doubt that the money had anything to do with him coming out of retirement since he is worth half a billion…


All very interesting, but what about the other drivers who are not with the Top Teams? Which ones get a retainer or are “paid” through the sponsorship they bring to the team ?

Eamonn Mc Cauley

Is the economic downturn the reason Kimi is not in F1 one this year? He was not willing to drive for say the same money as Alonso? Still thing he could get the big money if he played hardball with the teams? A posible mistake on his managements side?


I read that with Santander money behind him, Alonso said that he did not want Kimi for a teammate, but wanted Massa, & Kimi was out. If that is not true, then I would like to see Ferrari honor the last year of their contract with Kimi as their 1st driver, after running as their 2nd driver in 2008 & 2009 until after Massa’s accident. Kimi became 1st driver again & went on a roll of 4 podiums including a win at Spa in a car that had not seen any improvements since July, in the F60, admittedly a turkey.


Absolutely. Ferrari made the mistake in wanting to have Massa as a champion in 08 as well. If they had listened to Kimi and focused on him they wouldnt have gotten the suspension wrong and he would have walked 2008.

As for Alonso, Brundle firmly believes that Alonso stopped Kubica from coming to Ferrari next year so what you read about Kimi is likely.


Its a known fact that Brundle is a Mclaren fan. He has said so himself.

If he said that, its because he is simply taking another cheap shot at ALO. Unfortunately for us, the BBC are abusing their power by pretty much being able to say what ever they like knowing that everyone will believe them even if its completely false. If you dont believe me, take a look at their line-up of commentators and the teams/drivers they support. David likes Redbull as he was part of that family. Eddy HATES alonso and he has said numerous times how he is a big Lewis/Mclaren fan and supporter. etc. The only person there who even remotely tries to defend non-English teams/drivers is David, and he is shot down by Eddy every time he tries.

I’m an English Ferrari supporter and I’m totally sick of how people take their opinions as facts.


I remember reading in F1 Racing late last year that it was actually Kimi and his managers tough stance, coupled with the economic downturn, that made the top teams turn away from him: He was, if I remember correctly, asking for a large salary but unwilling to do as much PR work and so on.

Sadly, by the time he was ejected from Ferrari, his market value had taken a huge hit; thanks mainly to his dispirited display in ’08 and early-mid ’09. By then, a lot of people were questioning his consistency and commitment to stay in F1.

Eamonn Mc Cauley

Kimi soon started driving better when he knew he had to find a seat for this year. For that reason I wouldn’t have him in my team.


Lol. He started driving better when they finally focused on him alone and got the car set up the way he wanted.

He was already sniffing at rally at that stage.


I don’t think it was a money issue, as Ferrari’s severance pay guaranteed he would be very well paid no matter what. What I find interesting is that Ferrari’s severance pay is offset even though he is not in F1 any more. Many people thought he went to rallying in order to get the full severance pay (which he, according to this theory, had not got had he stayed in F1), that is, for financial reasons. It appears this is not the case as the severance is offset in any case.

Btw., I believe he is employed by Red Bull and not by Citroen.


I’ve always been interested to know how much the ‘lesser’ drivers earn driving for the smaller teams. When some drivers have been known to have drives for the money and sponsorship they bring in to the team, do they receive anything at all? What is the driver on the smallest salary earning, etc? It would be fantastic is you had any information on that, James. Thanks again for an excellent site.


Hi James – interesting as always.

What about lower down the food chain. How much are Rosberg/Kubica etc earning..??



I heard in Poland that Kubica gets 10 milions from next year… but it’s just rumours.


I’d like to see how much each championship point costs the team.

Whilst F1 has the appearance of mega-bucks there is an element of driver’s value for money.

And since you mentioned Kimi, the Ferrari F60 was a bit of a dog during his final year. For me his win at Spa 2009 was worth every penny.


Here you go:

Looks like it might be a regular feature too. It’s interesting to see it broken down by points like that.


The top driver salaries are fairly well documented James, but how much would the midfield drivers, rookies and new teams earn in comparison?


A French site,, recently listed all F1 racers’ 2010 salaries.


i guess it would be minimum wage in formula 1 terms


I too was looking for information about the midfield drivers and rookies.


i dont have sufficient money to become a formula 1 driver but i have dedication n spirit. I have passed PABT(PILOT APTITUDE BATTERY TEST) CONDUCTED by indian air force. it gives one n only chance.its necessary to become a fighter pilot.

pls tell me Is any racing company provides such facility to produce a f1 racer in this conditions.


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