Here's How Much The Top F1 Drivers Get Paid

Formula 1 is one of the most exciting motorsports out there. The drivers take to the track at a blistering pace and fortunes can change in an instant: one bold move, one mistake, or simply a split second of bad luck can turn a Grand Prix on its head for one or many of the drivers on the grid.

Drivers in Formula 1 jet all around the world, beginning with testing in late February, and reaching all the way into the final weeks of the year (via Formula 1). Drivers endure significant physical force at every turn and must be mentally and physically tough to make it through even a single season. Still, some of the most dominant names in Formula 1 are racing right now, as cars roar around the circuit at some of the fastest speeds — and G forces — that race car drivers have ever seen.

The best of the best earn a huge paycheck as a result of their demanding schedule and impossibly quick reflexes and instincts. USA Today notes that in 2022, drivers earned as much as $40 million (with the lowest figure still coming in at a sizeable check of $750,000). Those numbers might jump off the page, but the salaries of the top earners going into 2023 are even more sizzling.

Lewis Hamilton: Elite even among the best in the business

Lewis Hamilton has to be the most recognizable face in Formula 1 these days. He has won 103 Formula 1 races and finished on the podium 183 times, giving him the record in both categories ahead of the legendary Michael Schumacher (via AutoSport). He is also tied with Schumacher in the top spot as a seven-time world champion (and was just edged out for the honor by Max Verstappen in the last race of 2021 in an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix nail biter).

For all his domination on the track and accolades as a result, Hamilton is surprisingly only the second-highest paid driver in the sport. Sportrac reports that he is set to earn $35 million in 2023. Even so, his legend is continuing to grow within the world of Formula 1 and beyond the confines of the sport itself. It's only fitting that he be mentioned ahead of his competition, even as his salary is absolutely dwarfed by the circuit's top earner.

Max Verstappen: Red Bull's champion driver

The top earner in the sport — by a landslide — is Max Verstappen, driving under the Netherlands' flag and born in Belgium. Spotrac reports that Verstappen earned $25 million in the 2022-23 season and the 26-year old is set to bring in an eye-watering $55 million in the season coming. Spotrac notes that the fierce competitor has raked in a total cash value of over $175 million from the sport since 2015 (his first year in Formula 1, and with the Red Bull team for each subsequent season).

Verstappen has become a force in the sport in recent years, and has taken 77 podiums and 35 wins in his 163 races (via Formula 1). He's been the champion for the last two years, and his earnings reflect the immense weight of those victories. Capturing the championship in the last race of 2021, he further cemented a growing legacy with a decisive championship performance in the next season. 

The Guardian's Giles Richards even went as far as to characterize his 2022 effort as "dominant and imperious." There's much more to see in Max Verstappen, to be sure, and his 2023 earnings place him firmly in the crosshairs of his competitors out on the grid.

Charles Leclerc: Monaco's own Formula 1 royalty

Charles Leclerc is the third-highest paid driver on the grid. After making the transition to Formula 1 from the lower divisions with a commanding 2017 season, he shined with Alfa Romeo, and then made his way to Ferrari, where he will stay until at least the 2024 season (via Charles Leclerc).

As a 25-year old heading into the 2023 season, Leclerc is set to earn $24 million as Ferrari's number one driver (in a partnership with the always electric Carlos Sainz Jr.), according to Spotrac. The Ferrari man has won five races and earned a podium finish in 19 more. He's crossed the century mark as well, racing in 103 Formula 1 Grands Prix so far (via Formula 1). 

Leclerc is an interesting personality on the grid for many reasons, and he has been a highlight of the Netflix series "Formula 1: Drive to Survive." But one unique thing that Leclerc brings to the sport is his heritage as a Monegasque driver. He's the only competitor from Monaco, the home of Formula 1's most iconic street course. The nation is tiny, but its streets are brimming with energy and the roar of F1 engines every spring.

Lando Norris: A future superstar in the making

According to Spotrac, Lando Norris is set to earn $20 million in 2023. He's the top driver for McLaren, and partnered up with another young gun in Oscar Piastri. McLaren is known for making bold moves in the Formula 1 track, and by signing Norris through to the end of 2025 last year (via Sky Sports), the team has placed its faith in a proven competitor and shockingly young driver with the instincts of a seasoned vet. Formula 1 reports that Norris was the F3 champion in 2017, F2 Runner up in 2018, and then broke out as a born star in Formula 1 in 2019 — alongside Carlos Sainz Jr.

Norris was born in Bristol and drives under the British banner. He has earned a podium six times, and his highest finish in the top competition remains second — with an F1 win eluding him still. Yet, the 23-year old hasn't competed in 100 Grands Prix, and still has plenty of competitive fire left to give to the sport. Norris was identified early on as a future superstar in the world of Formula 1, and his partnership with McLaren solidifies the faith that the team and greater community has in his ability to compete and eventually reach the top spot on the podium.

Not far behind: Some notable mentions

While not quite making top dollars in the sport of Formula 1 racing, these three heavyweights perform as peak talents, and certainly get paid an astounding amount of money. While the lowest earners in the game make a quarter of a million or just over the seven figure mark, according to Sportrac, these standout performers are all well over $10 million on the balance sheet for their teams.

German-born Sebastian Vettel drove for Aston Martin in 2021 and 2022, and recently retired (via F1 Wiki). In the 2022 F1 season, he earned $15 million (via USA Today), making a figure that's just shy of the next two highest earners. Vettel has been a staple on the F1 circuit for 16 years, and took 122 podium finishes in 300 races. He's also been the world champion four times.

Up at the same figure, Daniel Ricciardo earned $15 million in 2022, and an astonishing $32 million in the 2020-21 season with Renault (via Spotrac), averaging out at a recent figure that's roughly in line with many of the top earners as well. He has raced on a number of teams during his time in Formula 1, and is returning to Red Bull as its third driver for the upcoming season.

Last but certainly not least is Charles Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. He is set to earn $12 million in 2023, making Ferrari one of the biggest spenders in the sport for the upcoming season. Both drivers are set to make some of the highest figures of the season, and Sainz Jr. alone will earn more than the combined 2023 salary of five other two-man teams.