Formula 1’s Highest Paid F1 Racing Car Drivers

Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, not only showcases thrilling races but also serves as the arena for hefty paychecks. In the 2023 season, the top echelon of drivers collectively raked in a staggering $258 million, showcasing the financial prowess that accompanies their prowess on the racetrack. This article delves into the financial landscape of Formula 1, highlighting the highest-paid drivers, the factors influencing their earnings, and the evolving dynamics within the sport.

The Reign of Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen – A Financial and Racing Titan

Max Verstappen, the wunderkind of Red Bull Racing, emerged as the financial champion of Formula 1 in 2023, mirroring his on-track dominance. With a record-breaking 19 victories in 22 races, Verstappen secured his second consecutive top spot among the highest-paid drivers. His estimated salary and bonuses totaled an impressive $70 million, underscoring his dual supremacy on the racetrack and in financial rankings.

Verstappen’s Unprecedented Achievements

At just 26 years old, Verstappen’s meteoric rise in Formula 1 has been nothing short of extraordinary. Boasting 549 points, 20 podiums, and 18 victories, he stands on the verge of breaking Michael Schumacher’s record for consecutive championship seasons. Verstappen’s prowess extends beyond racing, positioning him as one of the youngest athletes on Forbes’ 2023 list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

The Financial Landscape of Formula 1

The Collective Wealth of Top Drivers

While Verstappen takes the financial lead, it’s crucial to examine the broader financial landscape of Formula 1. The combined earnings of the top 10 drivers reached an estimated $258 million in 2023, a slight dip from the previous year’s $264 million. Unlike other sports, Formula 1’s earnings ranking focuses exclusively on salaries and bonuses, excluding income from endorsements.

Global Stardom Despite Limited Endorsements

Despite the absence of substantial endorsement deals, Formula 1 drivers have become global icons, amplified by the growing popularity of the Netflix docuseries, “Drive to Survive,” particularly in the United States. This surge in interest has contributed to an upswing in revenue for Formula 1 teams, with Forbes predicting an average of $380 million in 2023, a substantial increase from $220 million in 2018.

Impact of Cost Caps on Financial Dynamics

Introduced in 2021, the cost cap aims to level the playing field among teams, limiting spending to less than $140 million in 2023. However, driver salaries remain exempt from this cap, allowing big teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull to wield significant financial clout. While discussions around a salary cap persist, changes may only materialize with a new Concorde Agreement, potentially impacting the 2026 season.

In-Depth Analysis of Top Earners

1. Max Verstappen – $70M

Verstappen’s Dominance and Contract Extension

Verstappen’s financial supremacy mirrors his on-track achievements. Winning three consecutive drivers’ championships and securing a 290-point lead in the standings, he outshines competitors. As Forbes predicts a salary raise with his five-year contract extension, Verstappen’s financial trajectory is set to soar.

2. Lewis Hamilton – $55M

Hamilton’s Enduring Legacy

Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time champion, ranks second with an estimated $55 million in earnings. Despite a comparatively subdued season, Hamilton’s legacy, comprising over 100 victories and numerous podium finishes, remains formidable. A front-loaded contract and a tempting offer from Ferrari hint at the potential for increased earnings in the future.

3. Fernando Alonso – $34M

Alonso’s Return to Prominence

In his first season with Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso secured fourth place in the driver standings, marking a return to financial prominence with an estimated $34 million in earnings. Alonso’s diversified involvement in other motorsports adds layers to his financial profile.

4. Sergio Pérez – $26M

Pérez’s Rollercoaster Season

Sergio Pérez, with a mix of triumphs and midseason challenges, finished second in the driver standings. Despite speculations about his future, Pérez remains under contract, emphasizing the uncertainty in the driver transfer market.

5. Charles Leclerc – $19M

Leclerc’s Salary Discrepancy

Charles Leclerc, positioned fifth, showcases the stark contrast in earnings compared to the top earners. Despite a modest season, Leclerc’s potential record-breaking contract extension highlights the financial dynamics within Ferrari.

6. Lando Norris – $15M

Norris’ Emerging Popularity

Lando Norris, at 24, represents the emerging generation in Formula 1. Despite not securing a win, his popularity and strong finish for McLaren hint at potential financial growth in the future.

7. Carlos Sainz – $14M

Sainz’s Grand Prix Triumph

Carlos Sainz, the only non-Red Bull driver to win a Grand Prix in 2023, landed seventh in the standings. His diverse achievements, both on and off the track, contribute to his financial standing.

8. George Russell – $9M

Russell’s Season of Challenges

George Russell’s challenging season resulted in an eighth-place finish. Despite limited victories, his contract extension with Mercedes underscores the team’s faith in his potential.

9. (Tie) Pierre Gasly and Oscar Piastri – $8M

Gasly’s Move to Alpine and Piastri’s Promising Debut

Pierre Gasly’s transition to Alpine and Oscar Piastri’s impressive debut season add intrigue to the mid-tier financial landscape. Both drivers share the ninth position with $8 million in earnings.


In conclusion, Formula 1’s highest-paid drivers not only compete for championships on the racetrack but also vie for lucrative financial rewards. The intersection of skill, marketability, and team dynamics shapes their earnings. As the sport undergoes financial transformations and new talents emerge, the financial narrative of Formula 1 continues to evolve, ensuring that the pursuit of excellence extends beyond the podium to the financial realm.

Author Profile

Sola James
Feature Writer & Interviewer


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