After an exciting season opener to the Formula One World Championship 2021 in Bahrain, the circus moves to the world famous Imola circuit in Italy for the second round.
This season looks set to be one of the best seasons since the turbo-hybrid era started in 2014 thanks to new regulations to decrease the level of downforce on the cars. This has meant that Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton don’t look as dominant as they have done previously, meaning that Max Verstappen and Red Bull have a real chance of challenging and beating the Silver Arrows.
Since Bahrain, the drivers’ base salaries have been released, as per The Mirror, and to no surprise the main two protagonists are top of the list, but further down below there are a few surprises.
20. Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri: £364,900
The most exciting talent to come from the Land of the Rising Sun, Tsunoda is unsurprisingly near the bottom given that he is a rookie, however, what is shocking is how low his salary is in comparison to the person in 19th. Watch out for this hot shot this year, he did finish third in Formula Two last year with multiple wins and poles.
19. Nicholas Latifi, Williams: £730,800
Latifi is shockingly on nearly double of Tsunoda’s pay, but given that he has been reliable for Williams thus far, perhaps it is no surprise.
18. Nikita Mazepin, Haas: £730,800
The less said about this guy, the better.
17. Mick Schumacher, Haas: £730,800
Given the financial struggles of the Haas team, it is no surprise that the son of questionably the Greatest Of All Time of the sport is near the bottom of the list along with his teammate.
16. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo: £730,800
Coming into his third full year of the sport, Giovinazzi will be hoping that he can keep up his comparative performances to his teammate Raikkonen. Perhaps it is a surprise that he has the same base salary as the two Haas drivers who are both rookies.
15. George Russell, Williams: £730,800
The future is bright for British motorsport with both Lando Norris and George Russell. His ties with Mercedes might put him into the Silver Arrow 2022, so we might see him higher up this list next year.
14. Esteban Ocon, Alpine: £3.6 million
So there is a big gulf between Russell and Frenchman Ocon. One of the reasons will be that Williams is an independent organisation, whereas Alpine is part of the Renault Group. It will be fascinating to see if Ocon will be on this list next year, giving his sub-par performances last year.
13. Lando Norris, McLaren: £3.6 million
The Twitch streamer is earning quite a lot for someone in his third year, but given that he is an exciting talent and has also claimed a podium, it is no surprise.
12. Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri: £3.6 million
Now a Grand Prix winner, Gasly’s impressive results could see him potentially taking Ocon’s seat at Alpine for 2022. For now, he will be content with his paycheck given the size of the Alpha Tauri team. That win he gained could be a good bargaining chip in future negotiations.
11. Sergio Perez, Red Bull: £5.8 million
The latest first-time Grand Prix winner, Perez has been in the sport for a decade now. Considering he is in a “top team”, it is surprising to see him in the midfield when it comes to base salaries. It is also worth to note that Perez only has a contract for 2021.
10. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin: £7.3 million
His surprise pole position in Turkey has certainly raised his reputation, but the lack of consistency throughout a race is his biggest weakness. I wonder how much bigger the salary would be if he won a race last season, which he should have done in Monza (Italian Grand Prix) and Istanbul (Turkish Grand Prix) last year.
9. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari: £7.3 million
Son to the two-time World Rally Champion with the same name, Sainz has proven to be a top driver over the past two years. Now at the Prancing Horse of Ferrari, he has gone up in value since he departed Renault in 2018. A podium finisher and constant point scorer, he should be on a higher wage than Stroll.
8. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo: £7.3 million
The 2007 World Champion is Finland’s most successful driver in Formula One history. Having a career spanning 20 years, it is no surprise to find “The Iceman” this high up. This may also explain why Giovinazzi’s base salary is low.
7. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes: £7.3 million
The strongest number two in the sport. Bottas’ time in the sun may be coming to an end if he doesn’t put up a reasonable challenge for the title. Hamilton would want to keep him due to the apparent lack of friction between the two, vastly different from the Rosberg-Hamilton era.
6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: £8.76 million
The boy wonder of Monaco and Italy, Leclerc is Ferrari’s future. His ability to drag an underwhelming car into the higher places is incredible and a sign of a future World Champion. The curious part to Leclerc’s contract could be the break-out clause should he get tired of the underwhelming machinery.
5. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren: £10.9 million
Having won multiple Grands Prix and being a constant match for Max Verstappen at Red Bull, it is to no great surprise that the base salary of this popular Australian is quite high. The added bonuses may be utilised given the apparent strengths of the McLaren this year.
4. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin: £10.9 million
It is very easy to forget that Vettel is a four-time World Champion, but his performances have been sub-par since the German Grand Prix in 2018, which has resulted in Ferrari controversially not exercising a contract extension at the beginning of 2020. Still a high-valued driver given his experience of winning races and championships.
3. Fernando Alonso, Alpine: £14.6 million
The Godfather is back. The two-time champion has driven for what seems all of the greatest teams in Formula One history. Returning to the team where he was champion, his 20-year career span is of vital importance to a team who are looking to make a jump away from the midfield.
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull: £18.27 million
The hottest property in the paddock. The very exciting and talented Verstappen is a great asset to any team. A future multiple World Champion, the “Flying Dutchman” signed a contract extension at the beginning of last year, but with a potential Mercedes seat opening for 2022, like Leclerc, we may be more interested in the break-out clause within the next few months.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: £21.9 million
Statiscally the greatest driver of all time, it is of course no big surprise that Hamilton is top of the list. Given that this is a one-year deal, though, has raised some eyebrows. It seems that driver market for 2022 will be solely based on what happens to Hamilton beyond 2021. Will he retire? Will he move to another team? Will he stay at Mercedes? Time will tell.