Despite the recent budget cap in force, Formula 1 is well known for its extreme spending, and with that comes the usual entourage of rich celebrities and big business sponsors. Certainly, F1 isn’t shy at showing off its extravagance and unashamed indulgences on a global scale. But you might be surprised to hear that the ‘haves and the have nots’ often work side by side at the track and the Formula One Paddock area; the very biggest earners along with some of the lowest wage employees.
Germany’s Sport Bild newspaper recently published their findings as to who earns the most in F1, along with the lowliest ‘minions’, some of whom no doubt accept the pittance salary or zero wage for the experience of attending and being part of a Grand Prix weekend. You might be surprised by what the publication has claimed.
Sports Bild claims that: “Lewis Hamilton, a record-breaking world champion, is the top earner with an annual salary of around 36 million euros plus bonuses,
“While the stewards guarding the entrance earn six euros an hour,
“For comparison: The British driver, who has an hourly wage of around 4100 euros, would only need a little more than five seconds for this.”
Crazy but not unexpected.
All of the teams offer hospitality to their guests and sponsors; the attendees are often used to the very best in service and expect as much. For the teams, the hospitality staff they employ are quite often students and youngsters keen to gain a foothold in the sport, therefore begin a career in Formula 1 by attending the sponsors and guests. Sports Bild estimates that on average a hospitality staff member earns around 15 Euros per hour, and if retained for the whole season they might expect to bring in approximately 30,000 Euros per annum. At the higher career end of Formula 1 hospitality, for instance, a chef might earn double that at 60,000 Euros per annum.
The very highest earners in Formula 1 obviously work for the biggest teams. Team bosses and directors are only second to the big earning drivers such as Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen. For instance, Christian Horner, team boss of Red Bull, earns around 2.5 million Euros from the Red Bull Racing team directly, but actually makes most of his money as a director of the new engine department, for which he collects another 6.5 million euros.
The grand total means that Horner earns nine million euros a year. The canny Horner and the Red Bull team managed to continue to pay the team boss his large salary by splitting the earnings. Otherwise, his Red Bull earnings are part of the recent budget cap; unless it is to do with the engine, in which case his “Power Unit” salary is exempt and falls outside the cap.
The top earner at Red Bull, however, is the lead driver and current Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen. The Dutchman earns around 25 million euros a year since his contract extension until 2028, which he signed before the season.
At the other end of the driver earnings scale, rookies such as Mick Schumacher usually collect between 500,000 and one million euros in their first season. Kevin Magnussen, Mick’s Haas team mate and the fast tracked stand in for the recently banned Russian driver Nikita Masapin, is estimated to also earn around one million euros.
Trackside garage mechanics’ salaries depend on their responsibilities and their positions but on average, they get around 50,000 euros per year. Engineers back at the factory usually would start on a wage of approximately 60,000 euros, but respected and sought after design engineers such as Adrian Newey can easily command a salary of six figures.
If you’re a driver physio, a team member who is perhaps closest to the driver than the actual team they receive their salary from, the average earnings is thought to be between 70,000 and 80,000 euros a year. More famous physios’ such as Lewis Hamilton’s bleach blond New Zealand confidant, Angela Cullen, is said to be paid top dollar and earn an estimated 150,000 Euros per year.
At the other end of the earnings scale is perhaps the biggest surprise, and that is the FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem. The ex Rally driver gives his time for free, much like many of the trackside marshalls who also are rarely paid. The exception is usually found at tracks such as Monaco.
The race officials such as Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, do not have a fixed salary. They get a small allowance for each race weekend they attend. In addition, the FIA pays the travel costs for them and an accompanying person. Similarly, safety car driver Bernd Mayländer also has no annual salary as such. The safety car driver is self-employed without a fixed contract and much like the race officials, Mayländer is paid per Grand Prix and has his travel expenses reimbursed. But since he is on site at every race, he comes to a low six-figure sum per year. The driver has to insure himself from this amount.