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Midseason Value-for-Money Ranking of F1 Driver Salaries

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2016

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has provided the best value for his salary so far this season.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen has provided the best value for his salary so far this season.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

With the Formula One teams off on their summer holidays, it's time for the midseason instalment of our annual driver value-for-money rankings.

By comparing the driver salaries published by Paddock Magazine (h/t F1i.com's Michael Delaney) with the number of points each driver has scored, we can get an idea of who is underperforming and who might be due for a raise or a bump up the grid.

Of course, the details of driver contracts are protected like state secrets, so the figures here are just estimates, but they do provide an interesting point of comparison between drivers.

Equally important to remember is that the number of points scored doesn't also give the full picture of a driver's success (or lack thereof). For example, few would argue that Nico Rosberg is a better driver than Fernando Alonso, yet the German has more than eight times as many points as the Spaniard this year—a function of the relative strengths of their cars.

Fernando Alonso (middle, with beard and sunglasses) has driven an uncompetitive McLaren car for the last two years but is paid handsomely to do it.
Fernando Alonso (middle, with beard and sunglasses) has driven an uncompetitive McLaren car for the last two years but is paid handsomely to do it.Charles Coates/Getty Images

And some drivers provide extra value to their teams in other ways, like when a larger team pays or provides discounted parts to place one of their drivers at a smaller team (Ferrari's Esteban Gutierrez at Haas, for example).

Also note that Paddock Magazine published the salaries back in January, before the entire grid was confirmed, so numbers are missing for Kevin Magnussen and the two Manor drivers (although £0 might be an accurate figure for Rio Haryanto, who Manor announced will be replaced by Esteban Ocon for the remainder of the season).

For comparative purposes, we assigned Magnussen the same salary as his team-mate, Jolyon Palmer, and Pascal Wehrlein the same as the lowest drivers listed, Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

Finally, the salaries listed do not take into account whatever adjustments occurred after the pre-Spanish Grand Prix swap of Daniil Kvyat for Max Verstappen at Red Bull. Verstappen is likely earning significantly more than £450,000 now—perhaps three times as much, according to Sky Sports' Ted Kravitz.

Now let's check out the rankings:

F1 Drivers Midseason Value-for-Money Rankings
DriverSalary (£)Points£ per Point
Max Verstappen450,0001153,913
Carlos Sainz Jr450,0003015,000
Daniel Ricciardo3,700,00013327,820
Daniil Kvyat700,0002330,435
Valtteri Bottas2,250,0005838,793
Sergio Perez2,200,0004845,833
Nico Rosberg12,000,00019860,606
Felipe Massa3,000,0003878,947
Romain Grosjean2,270,0002881,071
Nico Hulkenberg3,000,0003390,909
Kevin Magnussen600,0006100,000
Lewis Hamilton28,500,000217131,336
Kimi Raikkonen19,000,000122155,738
Pascal Wehrlein250,0001250,000
Sebastian Vettel33,400,000120278,333
Jenson Button9,000,00017529,412
Fernando Alonso27,100,000241,129,167
Felipe Nasr250,0000
Marcus Ericsson250,0000
Jolyon Palmer600,0000
Esteban Gutierrez1,400,0000
Paddock Magazine (h/t F1i.com)

The four Red Bull drivers are the four best bargains on the grid, according to our rankings. This should not be particularly surprising, as Red Bull and Toro Rosso view their drivers as relatively expendable and interchangeable (see the Kvyat/Verstappen situation). Their salaries reflect that.

Their drivers are also compensated in other ways, such as the significant support they receive in the lower formulas through the Red Bull Junior Team.

It is also worth noting that even if Verstappen's salary has been tripled from the £450,000 listed in the table, he would still be the best bargain on the grid in terms of salary for points scored.

The next two drivers on the list have been affected by the static lineups at the big teams over the last couple seasons. Both Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez have demonstrated the talent to earn a promotion, but Mercedes and Ferrari are happy with their current pairings and Red Bull prefer to promote from within.

Therefore, it looks like Bottas and Perez will spend another year at Williams and Force India, respectively, in 2017. Compared to most of their peers, though, both drivers are scoring plenty of points for the money they are being paid (not that either team has a huge stack of extra cash to offer them raises).

Sergio Perez (left) and Valtteri Bottas might deserve better drives, but there aren't any openings at bigger teams.
Sergio Perez (left) and Valtteri Bottas might deserve better drives, but there aren't any openings at bigger teams.Charles Coates/Getty Images

Following them is Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, the best value among the drivers earning £10 million or more. As noted previously, though, Rosberg is the beneficiary of a superior car, somewhat inflating his points total.

At the other end of the table, aside from the drivers who have yet to score a point, McLaren's Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are at the bottom of the heap. Again, this should not be too surprising. Both are former world champions and are paid accordingly, yet they do not have cars that allow them to truly demonstrate their talent.

At this point, they are obviously providing McLaren with more value than just scoring points, in terms of their marketability and the credibility their names bring to the team even while it is struggling.

Seeing Sebastian Vettel's near the bottom will also not be shocking to anyone who has followed this F1 season. The German, who performed so well in his first year at Ferrari, has suffered from bad luck and poor decision-making all year, significantly limiting the number of points he has scored.

Sebastian Vettel has suffered through a disappointing season at Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel has suffered through a disappointing season at Ferrari.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Finally, Wehrlein might be near the bottom of this value-for-money list, but the single point he scored for Manor in Austria will end up being worth millions of pounds to the team if it keeps them ahead of Sauber in the constructors' championship.

There are nine grands prix left this year, and we will update this list at the end of the season to take into account rising or falling performances. Although, the best value surely will be provided by whomever brings the world championship back to their team's factory.

  

Matthew Walthert is an F1 columnist for Bleacher Report UK. He has also written for VICEFourFourTwo and the Globe and Mail. Follow him on Twitter:

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