The world's highest-paid racecar drivers

  • Not all racing drivers in every series get paid buckets of cash – but several do.
  • While the list is filled with NASCAR drivers, the top money-makers are found in F1.
  • This list does not take into account drivers who are no longer racing – although many still make significant money.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Motorsports salaries are often shrouded in a veil of secrecy. Driver earnings are typically composed of a salary, performance bonuses for race wins, sponsorship deals – and in some cases, other racing-related income.

Estimates for NASCAR drivers come from Forbes – and 2017 is the most recent year for which data is available.

Veteran F1 journalist Dieter Rencken has been covering the sport since 2000 – so while they’re still just estimates, there’s some weight behind them.

Based on those estimates, these are the highest-paid non-retired professional racers in motorsports.


14. Nico Hülkenberg makes an estimated $US10.0 million (€8.9 million)

Series: Formula 1

Team: Renault

Hülkenberg – who won the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 2015 alongside Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy – is currently 13th in the 2019 driver standings in his main series.


13. Kyle Larson makes an estimated $US10.1million (€9.0 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team:
Chip Ganassi Racing

Larson’s best year to date was 2017 when he won four races. In 2019, his only win came in the All-Star race, but the final race of the season isn’t until November 17, so there’s still time.


12. Joey Logano makes an estimated $US10.2 million (€9.1 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Team Penske

Logano won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship title in 2018 and counts 23 Cup victories throughout his career – with two of those in 2019.


11. Brad Keselowski makes an estimated $US11.2 million (€10.0 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Team Penske

Keselowski won the 2012 Cup championship and has won 30 victories in the premier NASCAR series so far – with three wins in 2019 alone.


10. Kevin Harvick makes an estimated $US13.8 million (€12.3 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Harvick won his first Cup championship in 2014 and has 45 wins in the premier series so far. Although he won eight races in 2018, he has yet to win a race in 2019.


9. Denny Hamlin makes an estimated $US14.6 million (€13.0 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Hamlin hasn’t won a championship in the premier series yet, but has won a career total of 33 races so far– including 2 in 2019 alone.


8. Kyle Busch makes an estimated $US14.7 million (€13.1 million)

Matt Sullivan/GettyMars (left) with NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and his wife and child.

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Busch won the 2015 Cup championship and holds a total of 55 Cup wins throughout his career. According to the NASCAR organisation, that’s second only to Jimmie Johnson among current drivers in the series.


7. Daniel Ricciardo makes an estimated $US15.0 million (€13.4 million)

Series: Formula 1

Team: Renault

Ricciardo came up through the Red Bull junior team and spent several years with the main Red Bull Racing team in Formula One. Over his career thus far, he’s amassed 7 race wins and 29 podiums.

In 2018, Ricciardo announced that he was leaving Red Bull to join the Renault team – a move examined closely in the Netflix limited series “Formula One: Drive to Survive.”

Notably, in addition to fielding its own racing team, Renault had provided engines to the Red Bull Racing team through 2018 – when Red Bull announced that it was switching engine manufacturers to Honda. This made Ricciardo’s choice all the more complicated.


6. Max Verstappen makes an estimated $US16.0 million (€14.3 million)

Series: Formula 1

Team: Red Bull Racing Honda

Verstappen currently holds the record of being the youngest-ever F1 competitor, starting his career at the top tier of motorsport at the wizened age of 17. He’s also the youngest-ever racer in the series to score points and win races – so far, he’s won 5, but no championships yet.

Verstappen currently ranks 4th in driver standings in 2019.


5. Marc Márquez makes $US15-18 million (€13-16 million)

Series: MotoGP

Team: Repsol Honda

MotoGP is considered the top tier of global motorcycle racing – but despite this fact, motorcycle racers even at this level typically do not command the salaries of their auto racing counterparts.

Still, according to Cycle World, this particular MotoGP star gets paid better than most.

So far in his career, he’s won 47 races in MotoGP – and 5 world championships. He’s currently in first place in the 2019 championship standings.


4. Jimmie Johnson makes an estimated $US19.2 million (€17.1 million)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Johnson is a seven-time Cup champion – holding the record for most-ever series championships with the rarified likes of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty.

He’s had 83 career wins thus far – but none yet in 2019.


3. Valentino Rossi makes $US25-40 million (€22-36 million)

Series: MotoGP

Team: Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP

Rossi is MotoGP’s elder statesman – but just because he’s been in the game the longest doesn’t mean he’s slowed down.

In fact, that’s part of why his earnings are so high – in addition to racing for the Yamaha factory team, he also runs his own VR46 junior team that competes in the series, reported SuperBikePlanet editor Dean Adams.

Rossi’s career is legendary in the series, with a total of 7 world championships and a staggering 89 career wins thus far at the MotoGP level.

In 2019, Rossi is currently running fifth in the MotoGP rider championship standings.


2. Sebastian Vettel makes an estimated $US30.0 million (26.8 million)

Series: Formula 1

Team: Ferrari

Vettel has won 52 races in F1, many of which were with Red Bull – where he started his top-tier racing career. He’s also won a total of four world championships.

He’s currently 3rd in the 2019 driver standings.


1. Lewis Hamilton makes an estimated $US35.0 million (€31.2 million)

Series: Formula 1

Team: Mercedes

Hamilton is currently second place in overall F1 wins only to the legendary Michael Schumacher, with an unbelievable 78 wins under his belt so far. Even considering that modern-day F1 has more races per season than ever before, it’s still an amazing achievement. He’s also a 5-time F1 world champion.

As of 2019, Hamilton currently ranks first in the driver’s championship standings.

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