Highest paid motorsport drivers

Motor racing is dangerous so people don’t tend to mind these guys and girls earning a lot more than the average man in the street. The two top forms of motor racing in the world – F1 and NASCAR – pay their best drivers millions of dollars each year. The top stars are brand ambassadors for multinational firms who sponsor the sport and their teams, and these guys earn bucket loads of cash directly from their results on the track.


Formula One

F1 is undoubtedly the pinnacle of motor racing. Nothing really comes close to it in terms of sceptical and there’s no bigger sport in terms of exposure. Hundreds of millions of viewer tune in for a race, that’s not the case with other sports like football which segregates its audience thanks for team loyalties. The top 3 drivers in the sport earn masses of cash. Sebastian Vettel earns the most from his efforts as he’s on a guaranteed $50 million per year deal with Ferrari. Next up is Lewis Hamilton. He spent a large chunk of the 2015 season renegotiating his deal with Mercedes. It was worth the wait as the Englishman has guaranteed himself at least $31 million per year which can rise to $40 million when win and championship bonuses are counted. The crazy thing about F1 is that drivers sign their deals when they’re hot and often the performance related element is way smaller than the guaranteed amount. That’s what makes Vettel a higher earner than Lewis Hamilton even though he won way fewer races and of course, he hasn’t won the World Championship since 2013. That situation also accounts for the masses piled into Fernando Alonso’s bank account even though he routinely starts and finishes at the back for strugglers McLaren. Honda help the British team to pay this guy $40 million a year. No wonder he keeps telling the press that he’s committed to McLaren.


American racing operates a little differently to European racing as the teams earn prize money from each event. The drivers tend to as well so performance payments make up a bigger percentage of the money earned by superstars like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr remains the sport’s top earner. His retainer combined with his winnings for the past season mean he earned $14 million on the track which is added to endorsements worth $9 million for a total annual income of $23 million. His Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmy Johnson is the next highest earner. A total income of $22 million made up of $16 million in salary and winnings and $6 million in endorsements makes him NASCAR’s second highest and the world motorsport’s fifth highest earner.

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