Formula 1 may be a billion-dollar sport, but it still trails other codes like soccer and basketball by quite a margin. Despite this, the competing drivers are some of the world’s best athletes and are they rewarded financially for their skills and talents.
Not all the drivers can demand a high paycheck, but those that can have made sure that they receive the maximum dollar at the end of the 2019 season. Herewith then the five best-paid drivers in F1 this year, according to GPFans.
Lewis Hamilton - $57-million (approx. R875m)
The five-time F1 champion is undoubtedly the highest-paid driver in the sport’s history. His successes on track, ability to perform under pressure, and dedication to winning are all part of the reason why Mercedes-AMG is not hesitant to spend so much money on their star driver. Hamilton won his first championship back in 2008 with McLaren-Mercedes and his next four with Mercedes in 2014/15/17/and 2018.
In 2018, following an almost season-long battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton became champion for the fifth time. At the rate things are going, Hamilton will surely be crowned 2019 champion.
2020 might also be the Britain’s year, and if he does succeed in winning the championship again, he’ll equal Michael Schumacher on seven F1 championships. In his career, Schumacher won 91 races, while Hamilton is on 81. If all goes well, Hamilton will surpass Schumi’s 91 race wins in 2020, be a six-time world champion, and also see a massive increase on his current salary.
Sebastian Vettel - $45-million (approx. R691m)
Winner of 52 Grand Prixs and four F1 world championships, Sebastian Vettel is a seasoned and talented driver. The German won his first race at the 2008 Italian GP while still driving for Toro Rosso, before being promoted to the senior team (Red Bull) in 2009. Between 2010 and 2013 Vettel won the championship four times, with 2013 being one of his best years. That year, in addition to victories in the season’s first half, Vettel won all nine races after the summer break to register the greatest number of consecutive victories.
With smoking one's tyres being banned, Vettel ignored the rules, took the financial penalties, and lit up his tyres after each of the last couple of races. During one of those spins he remarked over the radio that he does not care about the rules, because he does not know if this will ever happen again.
Sadly for Vettel, he was right. In 2014, he was overshadowed by new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, jumped ship to Ferrari in 2015, and was hailed as the driver to restore dignity at the fledgling Italian team. After four and a half seasons, Vettel is yet to win a championship with Ferrari and is he again (almost) overshadowed by a new team mate in the form of 21-year-old Charles Leclerc.
Daniel Ricciardo - $17-million (approx. R261m)
Like Vettel, Ricciardo was drafted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2014 to partner Vettel. He immediately showed that he was a star of the future and it wasn’t too long until he got his first victory. During his time at Red Bull, Ricciardo won seven races and stood on the podium 29 times.
In 2018 Ricciardo decided to leave Red Bull for Renault, where he would partner Nico Hulkenberg. Though Ricciardo’s move did not yield any noteworthy successes yet, the Australian is adamant that it was the right move. Maybe so, because Red Bull increasingly put their support behind racing sensation, Max Verstappen; often leaving Ricciardo frustrated and angry.
The move to Renault came with a significant boost in salary that makes him the third best-paid driver in the sport this year.
Max Verstappen - $13.5-million (approx. R207m)
Verstappen joined the sport in 2015 as a young 16-year-old and was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in May 2016. This was five races into the season that year and, following Hamilton and then-team mate, Nico Rosberg’s infamous clash at the Spanish GP, Verstappen would inherit the victory on his very first outing for Red Bull. That had undoubtedly put the youngster in high esteem with various teams, and Red Bull locked him down with a contract that was more watertight than Noah’s ark.
In the five seasons that Verstappen’s been in the sport, he’s won seven races and is a regular podium contender. A world championship is within reach and is it only a matter of time before he achieves that goal. Verstappen’s contract will run its course at the end of the 2020 season and then he is free to either seek a new team from 2021 onwards, or stick with Red Bull and aim to win their first title together.
Either way, Verstappen can look forward to an amazing payday come 2021, because Red Bull will pay to keep him around and a different team will cough it up to acquire his services.
Valtteri Bottas - $8.5-million (approx. R130m)
Like all drivers in F1, Bottas has ambitions on becoming world champion, and joining the Mercedes team in 2017 was the most realistic step in achieving that. Unfortunately, Bottas’ team mate is Lewis Hamilton and is there no way that Hamilton will sit back and watch Bottas take the championship. Bottas is yet to win the F1 championship, but he can at least boast with five career victories.
Mercedes-AMG will only be paying Bottas $8.5m this year and is it fair to assume that his salary will not see too much of an increase next year. Bottas is at risk of losing his seat at the team next year and could he be replaced by a younger, and perhaps faster, driver in the form of Esteban Ocon.
Bottas’ 2019 got off to a cracking start and winning the opening race of the season, but of the opening twelve races, he could only secure victory twice versus Hamilton’s eight. Bottas has got it all to drive for in the season’s second half, because he could very possibly be replaced and forced to take a pay-cut with a different team.