In any career field, it takes hard work to be considered one of the best. It’s about talent, but it’s also about blood, sweat, and probably a lot of tears. Any successful person you talk to will admit that luck plays a role, but if you don’t have the determination to put the work in, you’ll never become one of the top players in your field.
Add all of this to a highly competitive environment, crazy racing, and a lot of sponsorship dollars, and you get the insane world of Formula 1. Much like basketball and football, Formula 1 has the potential to create millionaires. And over the course of several decades, it most certainly has! With this in mind, we compiled a list of the 10 highest paid Formula 1 drivers of all time. Each number corresponds to the drivers’ career earnings, including salaries and bonuses only. Let’s get the engines started!
10 RUBENS BARRICHELLO – $110 MILLION
This Brazilian racer has been out of the game for eight years now, but he sure deserves some rest. Rubens began racing for Formula 1 back in 1993, and he continued to do so until 2011. Throughout his career, he’s amassed quite a few honors and records. At 322, he holds the record for most race starts in Formula One. Plus, he’s scored the eleventh highest points total in Formula One history.
Additionally, Barrichello remains the only Formula 1 driver to have raced in four distinct tire brands. With such an impressive record, it’s no wonder his career earnings are estimated to be around $110 Million!
9 FELIPE MASSA – $110 MILLION
Yet another racer who’s originally from Brasil, Felipe Massa can give Rubens Barrichello a run for his money. He retired from Formula 1 racing at the end of the 2017 season, after being forced to postpone his original retirement date, which was set to be at the end of the previous season.
Massa has competed alongside some of the best in Formula 1 world, including Lewis Hamilton, winning six races as opposed to Hamilton’s five wins. Overall, Felipe Massa is still one of the most successful Formula 1 racer of all time, and it shows in the bank. Much like his countryman Rubens, his career earnings come out at $110 Million.
8 JACQUES VILLENEUVE – $115 MILLION
Jacques Villeneuve was born in Canada, and it’s safe to say that he had the racing gene running somewhere through his body. Son of Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, and nephew of another racer, it seems like Jacques’ fate was written in the stars. Or the roads, if we want to take a more poetic route.
he began racing for Formula 1 back in the 1990s, and he currently competes in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. There’s more to Villeneuve than his racing career, though. He’s also an amateur musician, which he finds solace in. However, it’s his racing he should thank for giving him an estimated $115 Million in career earnings. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all!
7 RALF SCHUMACHER – $121 MILLION
This German racer also comes from a family of racers, alongside his brother Michael, who also happens to feature on this list. Ralf began racing when he was extremely young, at only three years of age. He as his brother are the only brothers to have won Formula One races, which is a pretty cool record to hold.
Aside from this, Ralf can brag about the fact that he won a total of five races in the span of only two years. And while his career with Formula One officially ended in 2007 because of internal pressure, his earnings still total an incredible $121 Million.
6 JENSON BUTTON – $147 MILLION
This Formula One racer is a British native who won the 2009 Formula One World Championship, beginning his journey when he was only eight years old. And at twenty years of age, Button began his career as a Formula One racer, winning his first Grand Prix in Hungary after six seasons of racing.
Out of all the races he has participated in, Jenson Button won 15, totaling 50 podium finishes. The end of his career was somewhat rocky due to the rules and regulations introduced five years ago. However, it still left him with an estimated career earning of $147 Million, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
5 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN – $331 MILLION
Born and raised in Finland, Kimi has been called the Iceman for most of his career. He began racing for Formula One in 2003, but he was far from being a rookie. When he entered the game, he had already been a part of over two dozen races. He knows how to play the game, which led him to win the 2007 Formula One World Championship in his first season.
He’s the most successful Formula One racer from Finland, having won 21 Grands Prix, and the only driver to win eras of V10, V8, and hybrid V6 engines. Back in 2008, he was the fifth highest-paid sportsman according to Forbes. He’ll be competing in the 2019 season, with his total career earnings estimated to be $331 Million.
4 SEBASTIAN VETTEL – $358 MILLION
German-born Sebastian Vettel is a four-time Formula One World Champion. His career in racing has been so worthy of note, and inspired so many fans throughout the years, that he was quick to be considered one of the absolute best in his field. With consecutive titles being snatched for three years in a row, that’s no wonder.
He’s been driving for Formula One since 2006, and he’s set to continue racing for Ferrari until 2020. Vettel holds the record for the most consecutive race wins, accumulating the third most race victories and podium finishes, amongst others. As such, it comes as no surprise that his career earnings are a whopping $358 Million.
3 FERNANDO ALONSO – $458 MILLION
Fernando Alonso isn’t just the most successful Spanish Formula One racer of all time – he’s also one of the best Formula One racers ever, period. Alonso is a two-time Formula One World Champion, and he was snatching titles even before the age of 20, although outside of the Formula One world.
He was Formula One World Drivers’ Champion for two consecutive years. Fernando has held a number of impressive records, including being the youngest World champion when he snatched the title at the age of 24, and he’s the only Spanish racer to have won a Formula One Grand Prix. After decades in the game, his career earnings total $458 Million.
2MICHAEL SCHUMACHER – $464 MILLION
Brother to Ralf Schumacher, Michael represents half of the only sibling duo to have won Formula One races. Also regarded as one of the best and most successful Formula One drivers of all time, Michael holds several impressive records which put him at the top amongst even the best racers in history.
These include the most World Championship titles, the most Grand Prix wins and the most races won in a single season. With such an incredible resume, it comes as absolutely no surprise that Michael Schumacher’s career earnings are a whooping $464 Million. That’s what you get when you put the work in!
1 LEWIS HAMILTON – $489 MILLION
Lewis Hamilton has made some serious headlines in the past few months. He is now considered to be the highest-paid Formula One racer of all time, with career earnings that amount to the crazy sum of nearly $500 Million. He’s a five-time Formula One World Champion, and while Michael is considered the best, Lewis is surely neck to neck with him, undoubtedly the very best of his generation.
After his first season with Formula One, he had already broken a series of records, including the most consecutive podium finishes from the debut and the most points in a debut season. It’s all been up from there, and with his winning streak showing no signs of slowing down, the dollar signs will surely follow suit.