Even the worst-paid F1 drivers still earn millions in 2019

Image: AFP
Image: AFP

While the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo are among this year's best-paid drivers in Formula 1, another group of talented racers have with far less in their bank accounts.

Four of the worst-paid drivers in the sport this year are newbies and they have some way to go in proving themselves and snapping up more lucrative contracts. Fortunately for some of this year's rookies, they’ve already done so throughout the first twelve races of the season. 

READ: The 5 best-paid Formula 1 drivers in 2019

Below are five "worst-paid" F1 drivers in 2019: Info by GPfans

Alexander Albon - $170 000 (approx. R2.57-million)

Albon joined Toro Rosso this year after a very successful season in Formula 2. Though he did not win last year’s championship, his race craft and skill landed him a seat at Toro Rosso.

Albon and team mate Daniil Kvyat replaced the team’s 2018 drivers after Pierre Gasly was promoted to Red Bull following Ricciardo’s departure to Renault and Brendon Hartley failing to secure his seat.

While Gasly failed to impress at Red Bull, Albon's been making massive strides at sister-team Toro Rosso. At the start of the summer break, Red Bull announced that Gasly would return to Toro Rosso and Albon would take his place. Albon's impressive speed and consistent performance ensured his promotion.

Depending on his performance during the second half of the year, Albon may well join Red Bull in 2020... and see an increase in salary.

George Russell - $180 000 (approx. R2.72-million)

Russell is one of Mercedes-AMG’s junior drivers and since Mercedes supplies Williams-Martini with engines, they have some say as to who can drive for them. Russell secured his 2019 racing seat in this manner and has close ties with Mercedes-AMG.

The young driver experienced Mercedes' 2019 F1 car during a test session this year but is not allowed to share any details with his Williams team. Perhaps he should share a morsel of information since he is the only driver on the grid yet to score a point this year.

Williams will likely retain Russel for 2020 but the driver will not see that much of an improvement on his salary. A possible seat at Mercedes-AMG might open up next year (given Bottas’ poor showing of late) but team boss Toto Wolff intends to give the slot to reserve driver, Esteban Ocon - should it come down to it.

Antonio Giovinazzi - $230 000 (approx. R3.48-million)

Giovinazzi is the only Italian driver on the grid. Having come through Ferrari’s Driver Academy, he has shown that he has what it takes to compete in F1. In 2018, Giovinazzi was linked to a Ferrari seat but he was beaten to the punch by then-Alfa Romeo driver, Charles Leclerc.

Instead, Alfa Romeo (Ferrari’s B-team), signed Kimi Raikkonen (who was replaced by Leclerc this year) and Giovinazzi. 

Though the team showed great promise during pre-season testing, they just never really managed to deliver on a consistent basis. Raikkonen has been scoring the majority of the team’s points, while Giovinazzi only recently managed to register his first points.

If he can score points regularly during the second half of the season Alfa Romeo will keep him alongside Raikkonen in 2020. 

READ: The 5 best-paid Formula 1 drivers in 2019

Lando Norris - $260 000 (approx. R3.94-million)

What a revelation Lando Norris has been so far in 2019! Following Fernando Alonso’s departure from the sport last year and Stoffel Vandoorne given the boot, McLaren brought two new drivers into the fold. Carlos Sainz Jnr moved from Renault - and has impressed the team so far - and newbie Norris was drafted in from McLaren’s junior programs.

The first few races of 2019 saw Norris finding his feet but he soon turned the tables on rivals to produce stellar performances. Alongside his more senior team mate, the duo turned McLaren’s fortunes around and there clear signs that the once-great team is steadily regaining a foothold in F1. Norris will undoubtedly be kept on in 2020 but it's out of the realm of possibility that rival teams will want to snap up this talented rookie for 2021.

Of the four new drivers this year, Norris has scored the most points so far and is classified in tenth place out of the 20 drivers this year. Bring on the second half!

Side note: McLaren currently lies fourth in the constructor’s championship - the highest position it has achieved since 2014.

Daniil Kvyat - $300 000 (approx. R4.54-million)

During the first four races of the 2016 season, Daniil Kvyat, while driving for Red Bull, was involved in two racing incidents. For the fifth race, he was demoted to Toro Rosso and replaced by Max Verstappen. Kvyat ended the year with Toro Rosso but took a two-year hiatus from the sport.

Much to everyone’s surprise he was brought back into the Toro Rosso fold to partner Albon.

Though he has earned more points than Albon (27 points to 16), the shadow of what happened in 2016 still looms over the Russian driver. This is partly why the team did not promote him as a replacement for Gasly.

Kvyat’s has had a very good 2019 so far and even secured third place at during the chaotic German GP. For a driver who’s technically been in the sport for more than five seasons, Kvyat should have earned a much higher salary. He will be retained for next year but it remains to be seen if he can restore his credibility in the sport.

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