Hamilton to top F1 pay list

2012-08-25 15:54

McLaren man expected to sign about £100m deal

A new proposed deal is set to make McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton the best-paid Formula 1 driver.

The British driver is about to sign a £100 million (about R1.311 billion) contract over five years. That would put him above Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari on salary and bonuses.

Since the start of the F1 Grand Prix after a month-long break, Hamilton and his agents XIX Entertainment, led by Simon Fuller, have been in heavy negotiations with Team McLaren.

The deal would end all speculation that the driver might defect to Team Red Bull or Ferrari.

While no party has so far confirmed the said figure, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been quoted in the media as saying the new deal is near the £100 million mark.

Ferrari, on the other hand, are reported to be ready to release the poor-performing Felipe Massa. However, the prospect of pairing Alonso and Hamilton again does not sit well with Ferrari technical director Pat Fry.

This goes back to the bad relationship the two had at Team McLaren where they were team-mates.

An incident where Alonso literally blocked Hamilton’s car out of the garage for a final qualifier session, was one of many that led to Alonso leaving Team McLaren.

The two, it seems, have since reconciled and were seen late in July exchanging helmets at the Hockenheimring in Germany.

Massa has had a disappointing season so far, scoring a mere 25 points to team-mate Alonso’s 164.

But the Brazilian and former Sauber driver showed signs of recovery, approaching the F1 Grand Prix month-long break and this could possibly be an opportune period for the 31-year-old as time for contract talks is approaching.

Team Ferrari had initially stated that Massa’s contract would not be renewed as he hasn’t scored a podium since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.

His objective in the second half of the season would be to fight for a top-five finish on the standings while doing his best to help Alonso’s championship chances, which so far looks like a tough ask.

F1 drivers usually demand huge salaries and their triple-figure pay also leads to high ticket prices for spectators.

In fact, many of them believe the pay is justified as the top drivers deliver results – more money from advertising – for their teams.

Of the 24 competitors who line up on the grid every second weekend, a quarter of them are called “pay drivers”.

These are the six who have won their seats after bringing millions of US dollars and pounds into the coffers of their respective teams.

Former Ferrari man Michael Schumacher comes to mind.

Those who don’t form part of the so-called “pay drivers” usually pay for their seats with good sponsorship deals.

A good example would be BMW-Williams’ driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela who is worth an estimated £45 million to his team.

He has a strong backing from PDVSA – his nation’s leading oil company.

Team Red Bull have been implementing a new system of investing in youngsters such as Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne who would never have had the opportunity to get in a race car without this initiative.

Team Ferrari have started

a driver’s academy while Team McLaren are backing young go-karters following the success of Hamilton who also started his career as a go-kart racer.

After all, the ultimate goal for the F1 teams is to better their overall performance, and sometimes they can do that more easily with a driver who brings in money than with a great driver who doesn’t have a sponsorship.

» Follow me on Twitter: @zwelethunondumo

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