LATEST F1 NEWS: Little men with big wallets

By Pat Espresso

Former F1 commentator James Allen has worked out that the recession is having little effect on the salaries of top drivers, with Fernando Alonso earnings at Ferrari estimated to be between £9.9m and £12.3 million per year.

While that astonishing figure is hardly news, Allen reveals that a F1 driver’s income is typically 70% retainer and 30% bonus, based on podiums, wins and championship points. Interestingly, the Red Bull pilots are the exception with a 40 per cent retainer and 6% bonus, which partly explains why Vettel and Webber are so desperate to beat each other.

According to Allen’s research among driver agents, both Red Bull drivers are on £2.9 million retainers, but could more than double that this year depending on their performances.

Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest earners is Lewis Hamilton, whose five-year £41 million salary deal was signed after his sensational debut season, before the teams began to rein in retainers. That pay packet, coupled with sponsorship deals with Bombardier jets and Reebok bringing another £2.5 million a year, means the Stevenage-born star will not struggle to meet his tax bill in Switzerland.

For Fernando, only he seems to know how much of his deal is retainer and bonus, and who is footing the bill – Ferrari or his sponsor Santander. Team mate Felipe Massa shrewdly struck a three-year deal with the team when the economy was good and picks up just under £10 million a year.

Over at McLaren, current world champion Jenson Button earns £6.6 million a year – about the same amount he was paid during his years in the doldrums at Honda –  which is a huge improvement on the £2.5 million he was paid while at Brawn.

But one of the best paid drivers in F1 doesn’t even appear on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen accepted a severance package of £15 million from Ferrari, with a clause that if he found another job the income would be offset. He is currently rallying for Red Bull/Citroen at around £8 million per year, so Ferrari pays £7 million. When he actually sat in the Ferrari, Raikkonen was trousering a staggering £25 million – which makes even the most highly paid footballer look like a pauper.

A big question mark is how much Michael Schumacher is receiving in his first comeback year. Mercedes have said that he is not picking up the £20 million a year he used to receive, but pitlane experts like Allen believe that with sponsorship deals, he is unlikely to be too far away from £10 million annually. Who says there’s a recession on?

One Response to “LATEST F1 NEWS: Little men with big wallets”
  1. Oscar says:

    Kimi was on £25 million sovs a year and still could’nt raise a smile! I couldn’t watch or listen to that man. His perceived lack of passion used to ‘make my piss boil’.

    Webber shows us all how it should be done. That geezer has some serious ‘spunk’ and apparently earns a fraction of what the other big boys earn.

    If ever the was a deserved champion in the waiting it’s Webber…………… don’t think it’ll be this year though.

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