Sebastian Vettel has earned more prize money for his teams than any other driver currently racing in Formula 1 according to Formula Money research. He might be struggling with a talented new teammate in 2019, but when it comes to money contributed to the team Leclerc could learn a lesson or two and Ferrari is well-adviced to hold on to him – at least from a money perspective.

Formula 1 Secret Money Formula

Formula One’s annual prize money payout is public knowledge and came to $913 million last year and we can estimate how much money each team receives at the end of each season. According to ESPN it was revealed that a further 7.5% of F1’s underlying profit is handed to the top three teams. This additional bonus pot is known as the Constructors’ Championship Bonus (CCB) fund and it comes to at least $100 million annually. Here you can read how this pot of money is allocated.

As we know Ferrari collects roughly $205 million for 2018. That’s six percent more than last year, and it is the highest amount among all teams even though they came in second last year. This is due to the bonus payment of $ 114 million due to complicated formula mostly based on factors such as successful history in Formula 1. Here are some details:

“payment is guaranteed regardless of the teams’ race results and is split between Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull Racing. Ferrari also gets its own dedicated prize money pay-out as well as sharing in the 47.5% and the CCB Fund. The dedicated prize pot gives Ferrari 5% of F1’s underlying profit which comes to at least $62.2 million annually. Like the CCB fund, this is paid regardless of Ferrari’s race results and it comes in return for the Italian squad being F1’s longest-standing team having been racing in the championship since it was launched in 1950.”

However, it has never been estimated how much money each driver is responsible for contributing to the team’s pot of F1 money – at least until now where our colleagues at Formula Money crunched some numbers.

Sebastian Vettel: An Excellent Investment

It is only natural to assume that the team’s two drivers have a big contribution through their points gained at each race, not only to the official prize money but also the bonus pot. According to Formula Money, to calculate the individual driver’s contribution to the team’s financial success, not only the points collected but also the driver’s dominance over his teammate plays a role. “The more successful the team is, the more points it scores. Likewise, the more dominant the driver is, the greater the percentage of these points he scores for the team.”

Career length is also a key factor as the longer a driver has been racing, the more time he has had to score points and therefore to earn prize money for his team and its successful history within Formula 1. The final result of that mix of numbers and measuring the contributing factors:

Vettel is clearly leading the money rankings with $511.9 million, followed by Lewis Hamilton ($449.6m) and Kimi Raikkonen in third place ($386.3m).

As we can see from these numbers Sebastian Vettel has earned more prize money for his teams than Lewis Hamilton who actually won more championships in his career. According to the rough formula above, we need to consider that the German driver joined F1 in 2007 giving him the joint second-longest career of any of the current drivers.

Hamilton follows closely. But only because there was a big scandal in 2007 involving Maclaren spying on Ferrari, did Lewis Hamilton, without a fault of his own, contribute less to his teams’ financial well-being than his German rival did.

Also, and here comes in the factor for dominance over the teammate, Hamilton has been beaten twice by his teammates that lessen his financial value. The first time in 2011 when Britain’s Jenson Button was driving with Hamilton at McLaren and the second time in 2016 when Nico Rosberg claimed the championship crown for himself.

In contrast, Vettel was beaten only once in 2014 before changing his team from Red Bull to Ferrari. The winner was a young Daniel Ricciardo, then a Red Bull rookie.

In summary, according to Formula Money: “Vettel was responsible for an estimated $49.7 million of the $81.8 million performance-based prize money paid to Ferrari last year as he scored 60.7% of its points in 2017. In contrast, Hamilton was only responsible for $46.8 million of the $86.1 million paid to Mercedes as he scored 54.3% of its points.”

Indeed, Sebastian Vettel has been an excellent investment for any team that decided to hire him.

Alfa Romeo Made an Excellent Investment

But it’s not only driving in top teams that make drivers financially valuable. Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg are very good examples of that. Kimi has the longest career of any of the current F1 drivers as he first raced in 2001. Only his two-year sabbatical from F1 diminished hit total prize money he contributed to his teams. Yet, he still ranks 3rd in the money rankings. Besides, he contributes enormously to his current team – Alfa Romeo (formerly Sauber Team).

Not only does he consistently score points for his team each race but through the bonus pot, he contributes double. Besides, it’s cool to have the Iceman on board as he is always followed by a fanatic hoard of paying fans!

First published at LEX Formula.

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