Through Brett Knight
Lewis Hamilton remains in pole position in the win race, leading a group that is expected to put together $211 million on the track in 2021.
AAn era of uncontrolled spending in Formula 1 came to a halt this year, but one group remains untouched by the first-ever budget cap in the series: the sports drivers. F1’s ten highest-paid stars are expected to bring in a combined salary and bonuses of $211 million this season.
The frontrunner is Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton, who is on track to make $62 million on the track in 2021. That figure includes a base salary of $55 million, more than double what its closest competitor is guaranteed, as well as an expected $7 million in race win bonuses. But with Hamilton currently second in the standings and in danger of missing out on the drivers’ title for only the second time in the past eight years, his projection does not include a championship bonus, leaving him a little shy of his $66 million total. on the track for 2020, when he won 11 races and the title.
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Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is the driver in pole position to receive that championship bump this year, bringing him expected to reach $42 million in salary and bonuses, comfortably number 2 on the winning list. He is followed by Fernando Alonso, with $25 million in his debut season with Alpine.
Hamilton, who has taken four wins in ten races, has time to overtake Verstappen, with a gap in the standings of just 8 points and 12 races left on the schedule (plus a 13th if F1 can find a replacement for the canceled Australian Grand Prix in November). Either way, Hamilton is guaranteed to lead the F1 win race, as he has every year since 2014, when he knocked Alonso out of first place for the first time among the series drivers on the Forbes list of the world’s highest paid athletes with $29 million in salary and bonuses and $32 million including endorsements.
The high salaries are critical for F1 drivers, who receive far less from endorsements than superstars in other sports such as tennis and the NBA. F1 drivers, for the most part, spend little energy off the track, other than the appearances they have to make for their teams and their associated car manufacturers. (The teams are partly self-responsible and place restrictions on the categories of sponsors their drivers can partner with.) While Hamilton is raking in an estimated $12 million from sponsors, most of whom also support his team, even Verstappen earns just $1 million from approvals per year.
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Still, drivers’ salaries should continue to compensate for the marketing gap. F1’s new budget cap, introduced this season, limits spending to $145 million per team in 2021 and $135 million by 2023 in recent years. Regulations have forced them to cut spending on design and research and eliminate numerous staff positions, but driver salaries will remain exempt from the cost cap calculation and will be one of the few items for teams with deep pockets of money to stay on. throw to distinguish themselves.
Of course, an attempt is now underway to limit that expenditure as well, but expect at least in the short term that the rich drivers will become even richer.
Here are the ten highest-paid Formula 1 drivers for 2021.
Lewis Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2012, has become an icon on a par with his predecessor. Last year Hamilton equaled Schumacher’s record with his seventh F1 driver’s championship, and he dominated the competition with his earnings as Schumacher, the world’s highest paid athlete in 2000 and 2001, ever did. The 36-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes this summer, following a $140 million three-year deal in 2015 and a two-year $100 million renewal in 2018. He is also the founder of X44, a team in the new off-road electric SUV racing series Extreme. E.
Is from consecutive third places in 2019 and 2020, Max Verstappen has reached a new level in 2021, with five race wins and a lead over Lewis Hamilton, even after a controversial clash with Hamilton knocking him out of Sunday’s race, narrowing his advantage to 8 points. Verstappen is only 23, but scores like an established star: in 2015 he became the youngest driver in F1 history at the age of 17 and a year later he became the youngest to win a race. Verstappen, whose father, Jos, also drove in Formula 1, was named Personality of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by the Fdration Internationale de lAutomobile, the governing body for auto racing.
Gone after two years from the F1 circuit, Fernando Alonso is back at Alpine. The 39-year-old, once at the center of the series Spygate and crash gate scandals, has turned himself into a hugely popular racing driver, in part by broadening his horizons in motorsport. In recent years he has competed in the Indianapolis 500, the Dakar Rally and won the endurance races 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona. The Spaniard won the drivers’ championship in 2005 and 2006 with Renaultan, a previous incarnation of his current team.
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Sergio Prez is in his first year with Red Bull Racing, after two seasons with Racing Point (now Aston Martin). He paired up with Max Verstappen to push Red Bull ahead of seven-time defending champion Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, but a difficult weekend at Silverstone closed the gap and dropped Prez from third to fifth in the drivers’ standings. The 31-year-old is credited with helping spark new interest in F1 in his native Mexico.
Sebastian Vettel won four consecutive championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013, before jumping to Ferrari, a stint that ended with a disappointing 2020 for both the driver and the team. He is now racing for the new Aston Martin team after taking the place of Sergio Prez, he still has a season well below his old standards, but the 34-year-old still has more race wins in his career than anyone else then Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher.
Charles Leclerc, a product of the Ferrari Driver Academy, is in his third season with Scuderia Ferrari, with a contract that runs until 2024. In 2019, his first season with the team, he scored ten podium finishes; that number dropped to two last year and sits at one to 10 races this season, a disappointment to both the 23-year-old and F1’s most valuable team. But maybe he’s gaining momentum: That one podium came with a second place in the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
After finishing second in 2019 and 2020, Valtteri Bottas got off to a frustrating start in 2021, fueling speculation that Mercedes could replace him after five seasons with the team, perhaps with Williams George Russell. The 31-year-old, who took a podium place on Sunday, will be continued this year.
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Daniel Ricciardo, who struggled to adjust to his new drive in his debut season for McLaren, was outmatched by his teammate Lando Norris. The 32-year-old is known as the Honey Badger for a spunkiness that is sometimes masked by his big smile.
Lando Norris, who entered McLaren as a junior driver and is in his third season with the main team, signed a contract extension in May and is third in the drivers’ standings. The 21-year-old launched an esports team last year.
Carlos Sainz has earned credit for keeping up with his teammate Charles Leclerc in his debut season with Ferrari, the fourth team of his relatively short career. The 26-year-old son of a rally champion has had the unenviable task of replacing both Fernando Alonso (at McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (at Ferrari).
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With few Formula 1 driver salaries publicly available, Forbes relied on financial documents, legal records and press leaks, as well as conversations with industry insiders and consultants to compile this list. Drivers usually receive a base salary plus bonuses for points scored or for race or championship wins, the amount depending on the size of the team and the driver’s experience. The full year bonus forecasts are based on the results of the first ten races of the season, assuming that each driver will achieve a similar ratio of points to wins for the remainder of the season; calculations are based on the currently confirmed 22 race schedule. Forbes does not include taxes or brokerage fees.
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