The Formula 1 World Championship is the most popular and one of the most exciting motorsport competitions in the world. Every year, drivers from various manufacturers battle it out on tracks around the world in the hope to accumulate enough points to take home the Divers’ Championship. Over the last several decades many famous and epic battles have played out on some of the most challenging circuits around the world. Fans will remember the epic and heated clashes of the late 1980s and early 90s between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. There was also Michael Schumacher who seemed to get under everyone’s skin and, on more than one occasion, stirred up massive controversy because of his on-track antics. Those not into F1 have probably been exposed to the Niki Lauda / James Hunt battle of the mid-70s thanks to the 2013 film Rush. Of course, most recently, we are being treated to a drama-filled clash between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. For the race fanatic, it’s a soap opera which tops all others.
Not to be outdone by their drivers, the manufacturers also have a rich history on and off the track. On the track, we’ve seen empires like Ferrari fall away and be replaced by new challengers to the throne, such as Red Bull and Mercedes. Away from the track there has been more than enough spy scandals, allegations of cheating, shady back-room dealings and questionable team strategies to keep even a casual fan entertained. Who needs Game of Thrones when you have the land of Formula 1 with its 11 kingdoms and Bernie Ecclestone as King. But why so much drama and excitement? Yes, the drivers and manufacturers get massive bragging rights and companies like Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can use success on the track to sell their products to the public. However, there is one big thing driving Formula 1, like most sporting businesses – money.
The following list looks at one aspect of the financial side of Formula 1. Here, according to the figures of Business Book GP2014, you’ll find the 15 drivers who bring in the highest salaries in the Championship. At first you may be inclined to think that some of these wages are ridiculously high. After all, most of us have driven really fast, weaved in and out of highway traffic like a champ– or maybe we have actually gone to a racetrack and paid to do a few laps when it’s been open to the public. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the vast (and I do stress ‘vast’) majority of us come nowhere near the abilities of the F1 driver. These guys get paid to have nerves of steel, reaction times of a cat and the mental and physical endurance to handle a 200mph car over the course of an entire race. This is not Gran Turismo. If they crash, at best a multi-million dollar car is destroyed and the team loses possible points. At worst, the car and driver are lost. This is why for the 2014 season teams have paid their drivers a combined $178.75 million in wages.
*Stats Correct as of September 18th, 2014.
16 T15. Jean-Eric Vergne, Scuderia Toro Rosso - $1 Million
15 T15. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - $1 Million
14 T13. Valtteri Bottas, Williams - $1.3 Million
13 T13. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren - $1.3 Million
12 Adrian Sutil, Sauber - $2.7 Million
11 T9. Sergio Perez, Force India - $4 Million
10 T9. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus - $4 Million
9 T9. Romain Grosjean, Lotus - $4 Million
8 T7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India - $5.3 Million
7 T7. Felipe Massa, Williams - $5.3 Million
6 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes - $16 Million
5 Jenson Button, McLaren - $21.4 Million
4 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - $26.7 Million
3 T1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - $29.4 Million
2 T1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - $29.4 Million
1 T1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari - $29.4 Million
Fernando Alonso’s best spell, so far, in Formula 1 came in 2005 and 2006 when he claimed the Drivers’ Championship from Michael Schumacher while driving for Renault. Since then, he hasn’t won again but has come in second to Sebastian Vettel on three occasions. In the 2014 season, Alonso has been relatively consistent, finishing no lower than eighth with only one retirement. This performance sees him in 5th place, just 1 point behind Valtteri Bottas but 117 points back of Nico Rosberg. In all respects, what Alonso has achieved is pretty good considering the weaknesses/bugs in the Ferrari cars when compared with their Mercedes rivals. Realistically, Alonso has an outside shot at third place and can probably help Ferrari secure third place in the Constructors’ Championship if he continues his consistent and $29.4 million-rated performance.
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