World’s highest-paid race car drivers 2017

Forbes Magazine just released the list of The World's Highest-Paid Athletes 2017. We take a look at the race car drivers within that list.

3y ago


Sebastian Vettel, may well be ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the F1 championship this year (at the time of writing at least), but how do his salary and endorsements compare? Fernando Alonso is struggling at the back of the grid with McLaren, but his salary and endorsements certainly aren’t.

Whilst there are three F1 drivers in the top 100, we can't forget NASCAR drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson round up the total number of drivers within the list, which contains athletes from 11 sports in total.

5th Richest Race Car Driver - Dale Earnhardt Jr

100th Richest Athlete 2017 - $21.4m total earnings with $13.4m salary/winnings and $8m endorsements

The 2017 NASCAR season will be his last behind the wheel. Earnhardt was voted NASCAR's most popular driver in 2016 for a 14th straight year. This popularity means he has taken home over $8m in endorsements in each of his last two years. Earnhardt's personal endorsement partners include Nationwide, Chevrolet, Axalta, Goody's, TaxSlayer and Wrangler.

4th Richest Race Car Driver - Jimmie Johnson

93rd Richest Athlete 2017 - $21.8m total earnings with $16.8m in salary/winnings and $5m in endorsements

Jimmie Johnson ties with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most NASCAR Spring Cup Series championships. The new NASCAR charter system means that there is more parity in the distribution of purses and bonuses, meaning Johnson took home less in winnings last year than previous years. His main personal sponsors are Gatorade, Chevrolet and Seiko.

3rd Richest Race Car Driver - Fernando Alonso

20th Richest Athlete 2017 $36m total earnings with $34m salary/winnings & $2m endorsements

Alonso joined McLaren from Ferrari on a three year deal in 2015. There has been no indication that he will stay at McLaren beyond 2018, despite McLaren organising his seat in this year's Indy 500 (in an Andretti Autosport car running under the McLaren-Honda name). Alonso earned roughly $300,000 for his trip to the Brickyard. Alonso's off-track income is boosted by endorsement deals with Citi, Pirelli and Kimoa.

2nd Richest Race Car Driver - Sebastian Vettel

14th Richest Athlete 2017 - $38.5m total earnings with $38m salary/winnings & $0.5m endorsements

The four-time world champion is in the last year of the contract he signed when joining Ferrari from Red Bull in 2015. With talks between the driver and Ferrari on hold, and rumours of a switch to Mercedes-Benz, Vettel could soon be climbing up the list. His endorsements include or have included the likes of Braun, Casio, Head and Shoulders and Ray Ban.

Richest Race Car Driver 2017 - Lewis Hamilton

10th Richest Athlete 2017 - $46m total earnings with $38m salary/winnings & $8m endorsements

Lewis Hamilton became Britain’s best paid sportsman in 2015 by signing a new contract that ensures he will stay at Mercedes until at least the end of the 2018 season. He tops the 2017 list as the highest earning driver in Motorsport. Among Lewis’ endorsements are sponsorship deals with the energy drinks manufacturer Monster, IWC, L'Oreal, Bose, Puma, MV Agusta Motorcycles and Bombardier Recreational Products.


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Comments (9)

  • Either Vettel doesn't want to partake in endorsements or he has a shit agent...

      3 years ago
    • Most likely is that Phillip Morris (Marlboro) control what goes on the car and the drivers leaving the scope limited for endorsements on a personal level (and It also keeps the cars red)

      That and he isn’t on Twitter..... showing us silly...

      Read more
        3 years ago
  • When you get to Vettel and Hamiltons level, they are the endorsement for the automakers. Not a bad gig, definitely takes way more work than most could possibly endure.

      3 years ago
  • When Dale Jr was driving for his dads team, Dale Earnhardt Inc, he was paid $500/wk salary. I would imagine that that changed when he went to drive for Rick Hendrick. Most of his money came from endorsements.

    My how times have changed, I remember back in the 90's when Schumacher was the highest paid athlete in the world at $40M a year.

      3 years ago
  • When it comes to endorsements and sponsorship, the difference between Formula One and the elite levels of American motorsport is stark. Sure, F1 drivers have to display both team and personal sponsors prominently on their cars and gear, as well as appear in the occasional commercial, but you don't hear Lewis Hamilton plugging L'Oreal or Advanced Hair Studio (I don't know if the latter is a sponsor, I just wanted to poke fun at Lewis's new, lustrous locks - which he probably washes with L'Oreal). Mere mention of sponsors in American racing is not enough. For some reason the drivers are expected to weave the sponsors' names into each utterance every time a mic is thrust under their noses. I don't know why. Perhaps they think that couching the name of the product within the driver's spiel is somewhat more subliminal and effective.

      3 years ago
  • Looks like no one wants to endorse Vettel.

      3 years ago
    • Yeah, I found that a bit weird. 4 world championships, and only 500k in endorsements? Doesn’t seem right.

        3 years ago
    • Vettel doesn't want to waste his free time with sponsorship duties. He would rather be at home with his wife and daughters.

        3 years ago