Every year, Forbes comes out with its list of the world’s highest-paid athletes and sportsmen. And there’s always a handful of racing drivers among them.
With this year’s list now released, Lewis Hamilton is the only one to have made the top ten – and only barely, with earnings calculated over the past 12 months to top $46 million.
That makes him the highest-paid racing driver in the world, and not without good reason. He is, after all, a three-time world champion, and had to be coaxed away from McLaren by Mercedes a few years ago. The bulk of his earnings, then, came from salary and winnings, which account for $38 million, with another $8 million coming from personal sponsorship.
The only driver on the grid more decorated than Hamilton is Sebastian Vettel, who was picked up by Ferrari three seasons ago after six years and four world championships with Red Bull. The German driver is evaluated to have earned $38 million in salary and winnings, matching Hamilton but with only $500k in endorsements to rank fourteenth place overall. Don’t be surprised to see him jump ahead by next year’s list, though, because with a first- or second-place finish at every grand prix so far this year, he’s currently leading Hamilton in the standings by a significant (though certainly not unassailable) margin towards earning his fifth world title – which would come as quite the celebration at the Scuderia that hasn’t won a championship in nearly a decade now.
Third among drivers and 20th on the list overall is two-time world champ Fernando Alonso, who earned $36 million over the past year while frustratedly driving for McLaren-Honda. The only other driver on the list is NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, who landed near the bottom at #93 with $21.8 million – which is more than any of the other F1 drivers pull in. In fact not a single other F1 driver brings home eight figures – not Hamilton’s new teammate Valtteri Bottas, Vettel’s wingman (and former champ) Kimi Raikkonen, nor either of the drivers (Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen) at Red Bull, which is known to pays its drivers less than they’d make at other teams. You can bet that the reigning champ Nico Rosberg would be up there, though, if he’d returned this year to defend his title.