Graphs show how much racing stars like Hamilton and Verstappen earn

Formula One is booming. Thanks to a combination of factors – from regulation changes allowing for closer racing and Netflix’s hit behind-the-scenes documentary series Drive to Survive – more people than ever are getting hooked, making the sport awash with cash.

The 2021 season saw the most dramatic showdown in decades as Lewis Hamilton chased down his eighth title as Max Verstappen desperately sought his first. The drama ratcheting up all the way to the last lap of the last race, few could wait for the lights to go out in 2022.

In terms of social media presence, F1 was the fastest-growing sport on the planet last year, increasing by 23 percent. With a cumulative TV audience of 1.55 billion and more than 5.7 million fans watching trackside in 2022, the sport’s owner Liberty Media saw revenue increase 20 percent on the year from £1.7billion in 2021 to £2billion.

Plenty of this money found its way into the pockets of those on track, the ten highest-paid drivers collecting an estimated £211million between them — a 25 percent hike on 2021.

The gap in pay between drivers is, however, enormous. Compiling data on salaries, laps raced and championship points, has calculated who are the sport’s most valuable players.

Despite the championship battle going Verstappen’s way with far more ease this year – running away with the title by winning a record 15 out of 22 races in the season – he and Hamilton weren’t separated by much in terms of earnings.

The Dutchman once again beat his British rival, taking a pre-tax total of £48million, when combining his basic salary of £32million and bonuses of £16million. Typically tied to points scored and championship position, these bonuses were understandably also higher for the Red Bull driver than anyone else.

As a result, he made just under £38,000 for each lap raced throughout the year. This means the 25-year-old made £1million roughly every 26 laps last year – about halfway through the average race.

With an annual salary of £44million from the Mercedes team he’s raced with for a decade, Hamilton’s earnings per lap of just over £35,000 place him second. It takes the Stevenage-born champion 29 laps to add six zeros to his bank account.

Behind them came pitlane veteran 41-year-old Fernando Alonso. The 2005 and 2006 world champion earned £24million last season, equating to £21,500 per lap. He was followed by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (£17,500) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (£15,500).

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While these top drivers appear to netting astronomical sums, the results they achieve are often deserving of their paycheck. In terms of earnings per point – or, looking at it another way, how much each driver costs their team per championship point – the table is flipped on its head.

The least cost-effective racer of last year’s grid was Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Trading just 18 points for a salary of £7.5million, the Silverstone outfit paid him almost £420,000 per.

Fellow Canadian Nicholas Latifi tied his Williams teammate Alex Albon for second at a price of £375,000 per point, followed by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and four-time title winner Sebastian Vettel on £367,500.

Struggling with porpoising on his Mercedes for the first half of the year, Hamilton was only able to claw his way to sixth by the season’s end, bringing in 240 points. Despite his high earnings, this haul made the Brit only the eight most costly driver on the grid.

With a record 454 points behind his title victory, Verstappen came in 12th with just under £106,000 earned per.

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