The Richest F1 Racers Ever

Formula One racing is near and dear to my heart. It is the racing Sport of Kings, reserved for super wealthy contenders in a tightly-packed field. Formula One, a.k.a. the Grand Prix takes place over 3 days with practice rounds and qualifying periods of play before the actual race begins on a Sunday. The very first Grand Prix was showcased in 1906. With origins in France, courtesy of Automobile Club de France, F1 became one of the biggest motor sports in the world. These guys are super rich - like the richest baseball players in the world, too.

Millions of Formula One fans across Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australasia, and beyond routinely flock to Formula One race tracks to watch their drivers competing for championship glory. Not only are the racers super talented, there is more money in Formula One than most sports. The sponsorship figures are off the charts, and the drivers (and their teams) get paid top dollar to deliver on expectations. Let's face it – racing fans have got the need for speed, performance, endurance, and power – that's where Formula One delivers.

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$120 Million a Year Annual Budget Per Formula One Team

Consider that the annual budget for a standard F1 team is over $120 million – that's no chump change. These single-seat racing cars feature an open-wheeled format on the outside of the car's body. These racing machines are the best in the business, powerful, fast, with their handling capacity of a bullet train on rails. There is no denying that the best F1 racers are in a class of their own – these are untouchable guys. It takes years of practice to even be considered for Formula One racing, and even then – only the creme de la creme rise through the ranks.

So how fast are we talking? There's plenty of horsepower on the track, and considering that the Formula One vehicles can hit speeds of 200 mph, this is adrenaline-fueled entertainment at every turn. During the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, the average speed of the Formula One Cars was 152.749 mph – it takes plenty of skill to handle a vehicle in a tight-packed field on a narrow track at that speed. These cars now use 2.4 L V8 engines, with an average of about 900 HP – that's about six times stronger than a standard VW 2.5 L engine. Here's the thing though - Formula One engines need to be rebuilt after every 500 miles – they take so much punishment on the track that there's just no way around it. With 19,000 rpm, there is so much heat, friction, and stress being exerted on the engine, that there is no alternative but to rebuild the entire engine.

Net Worth of Formula One Racing Drivers

Now that you know what type of power we are dealing with, it's time to turn our attention to the racing drivers that popularize the sport and became multi-millionaires many times over:

* Kimi Raikkonen – this Finnish race car driver has a net worth of $250 million. He has enjoyed tremendous success on the racetrack, tearing it up on the Formula One circuit. He has raced for many companies before, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, McLaren Mercedes, and Sauber- Petronas. A legend in the racing world.

* Fernando Alonso - Fernando Alonso has an estimated net worth of $240 million with an annual salary of $40 million. He is Formula One racing royalty. He drives for several car companies including Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, and Minardi. His net worth compares well with the richest NBA players of all time!

* Eddie Irvine – this UK racing car driver is revered as one of the best in the business. He has a net worth of $120 million, and got his career started with Formula Ford, back in 1983. The Jordan Formula One team signed him in 1993 and he partnered with Ferrari and Michael Schumacher in 1996. He retired from the sport in 2002. Incidentally, he was a multi-millionaire even before he started racing Formula One – through real estate investments across the UK.

* Alain Prost – this French race car driver is a true blast from the past. Alain Prost is worth an estimated $100 million, thanks to a hugely successful Grand Prix career. He racked up the most ‘Grand Prix’ wins between 1987-2001, and was the recipient of the World Sports Awards of the Century in motorsport back in 1999.

* Jenson Button – this UK racing car driver is a household name all over the world. He has an estimated net worth of $150 million, thanks largely to his successful career with McLaren, and his partnership with Lewis Hamilton, the former World Champion back in 2009, Jenson Button finished first in the World Drivers Championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He won the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, and commands an annual salary of $16.5 million a year.

* David Coulthard – David Coulthard is another UK racing legend. He has a net worth of $80 million, with 13 wins and 12 pole positions to his credit. He won the 1995 Portuguese Grand Prix and his last win took place in 2003 at the Australian Grand Prix.

* Sebastian Vettel – this German racing car driver has a net was the $120 million thanks to his stunning performances on the track. He won the World Championship multiple times, including 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. As a BMW racer, he had tremendous success over the years and was the youngest-ever F1 racing car winner in 2008 when he won a Formula One Grand Prix between 2017 and 2018, he racked up $40 million in endorsements and salary, and repeated these heroics between 2018 and 2019.

* Nico Rosberg - Nico Rosberg is the poor man on the list so far, with a net worth of $50 million. He has salary of $15 million, and was a hugely-talented German professional Formula One driver. He won the GP2 series in 2005 and joined up with Mercedes in 2010. Throughout his career he won 23 Grand Prix races and had 30 pole positions.

* Michael Schumacher – show me the money! Michael Schumacher has a net worth of $600 million. This German race car driver is probably one of the wealthiest men in sports, outflanked only by legends like the Michael Jordan’s of the world. Unfortunately, it is a bittersweet salute to Michael Schumacher who remains in a vegetative state.

* Lewis Hamilton - we end with a tribute to one of the greatest world champions in Formula One – the inimitable Lewis Hamilton. He has a net worth of $285 million with an annual salary of $50 million. This British F1 racing champion drives for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. He won his first championship with McLaren back in 2008, moved to Mercedes in 2013, and has racked up multiple titles with them. He is regarded as one of the best ever, and certainly one of the most prolific winners of the World Championship in Formula One.

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* Image courtesy of John Monfort and AP

Originally published on 5/6/20

About the Author
Brett Chatz

Brett is an internationally published sports journalist, political analyst, and medical fiction author. His commentary is seen in The Star, The Citizen, Tampa Bay Times, The Street, The Sowetan, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Independent, and across hundreds of online and print media platforms. He is the author of ‘Cricket Chatz’ and the highly-acclaimed, ‘Serum’. 

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