It’s no secret that driving cars at the pinnacle of motorsport comes with a hefty reward. Throughout history, some Formula 1 drivers have been considered the highest-paid athletes in world sport. So, what are the current F1 driver salaries in 2021?
It’s a difficult question to answer. Typically, this information isn’t released by teams nor the drivers because, why would they?
But that won’t stop some from guessing. When drivers post images on social media of their lavish homes, fast cars and hedonistic lifestyle, you can’t help but speculate how much they have in the bank.
Why F1 driver salaries depend on bonuses
F1 drivers’ salaries are huge, but that’s not the entire story. Contracts often include performance-based bonuses. This might be where a driver receives a sum based on winning a race, scoring a certain number of points, or finishing above a certain position.
An example of this would be Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula 1 in 2012. The Finn took a sabbatical from the sport in 2009. When he returned, he raced with Lotus F1 Team in its first season under that name.
It was a coup to nab a World Champion on his return to the sport, especially given Raikkonen was in negotiations with a seat at Williams. So Lotus team boss Gérard Lopéz sweetened the deal, promising a €50,000 bonus for every world championship point scored during his two-year deal.
Lopéz wasn’t expecting the performances Kimi pulled out the bag. The Iceman scored a 2nd place finish in just his fourth race with the team and went on to win two races during his time with the team. He scored so many points, he finished 3rd and 5th in the drivers’ championship in each of his seasons with Lotus.
He amassed 390 points in two years, accumulating a whopping €19.5 million in bonuses alone. According to some reports, that was almost enough to bankrupt the team.
But given Lotus finished 4th in the constructors’ championship in both seasons, they will
have surely recouped some of that cash in prize money.
Why it’s hard to estimate F1 driver salaries
In the same way you wouldn’t necessarily publicise how much you earn at work, drivers and teams keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to wages.
This is for numerous reasons, including contract negotiations. It’s easier to hammer out a contract if a teammate isn’t privy to the numbers being discussed.
F1 drivers generally don’t boast about how much they’re paid, but that doesn’t stop the press from speculating. For instance, when Lando Norris was handed a new two-year deal with McLaren in 2021, it was estimated the contract was worth £6 million per year.
However, ex-driver Martin Brundle was quick to point out that salary estimates reported in the press were “rarely right”.
F1 driver salaries and the cost cap
From the beginning of the 2021 season, Formula 1 introduced a cost cap, designed to level the playing field across the teams’ finances.
Each team will be able to spend a maximum of $145million throughout the season. However, this only applies to ‘performance-related costs’. That means the cost of building the cars, mechanic and engineering salaries, testing or wind tunnels and anything related to the car itself.
Among the many exclusions are marketing, wages of the three highest-paid personnel, bonuses, travel and hotels and driver fees.
That means F1 driver salaries are not affected by the cost cap, and teams can spend an unlimited amount on their drivers.
This differs from other sports that operate a salary cap on players. For instance, in the NFL teams are not permitted to spend more than $182.5million on the salaries of players in the team.
How much do the 2021 Formula 1 drivers earn?
While we’ve demonstrated it’s difficult to estimate how much F1 drivers salaries are worth, many have tried. Below, you will find the widely reported salaries of Formula 1 drivers in the 2021 season.
|Pos||Driver||Team||Salary (GBP)||Salary (USD)||Salary (EUR)|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||£18m||$25m||€21m|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||£11m||$15m||€13m|
|–||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||£7m||$10m||€8m|
|–||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||£7m||$10m||€8m|
|11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||£6m||$8m||€7m|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||£730,800||$1m||€840,000|
Of course, take this with a pinch of salt. But if you wanted a better idea of how much Formula 1 drivers are paid, now you have your answer.