The Top 10 wage earners in Formula One racing

FAST cars, adoring women, mansions in Monaco and bank accounts with balances that exceed the GDP of several small countries – welcome to the rich, sometimes ridiculous, world of the Formula One star.

When they are not screaming down straights at over 300km/h, the likes of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are splashing out on yachts, supercars, penthouses and whatever else takes their fancy.

On the eve of the European GP in Valencia, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the staggering wages of the world’s leading motorsport stars.

It is the rich list that will have AFL and NRL players wishing they grew up driving go-karts instead of kicking Steedens and Sherrins.

Heading the rich list is Ferrari star Alonso, who is the third wealthiest sports star on the planet behind Roger Federer ($52.7 million) and Manny Pacquiao ($52.5 million) with a yearly income, including sponsorship, of $45 million.

And the Spaniard hasn’t even won a race this year.

But results can be irrelevant in Formula One with Michael Schumacher pocketing a cool $20 million a year despite fighting just to make it into the top 10 since coming back from his legendary stint with Ferrari.

No wonder he is happy being an also ran.

But he is not alone when it comes to high octane F1 endeavours.

Here are the top 10 annual wages drawn by the stars of the world’s No.1 motorsport:

1. Fernando Alonso: $45m – The No.1 driver for the world’s most famous team _ Ferrari _ Alonso has no shortage of companies lining up to get a piece of him. Attend any race in Europe and you will be bombarded with images of the driver promoting anything from watches to cigarettes.

2. Lewis Hamilton: $24 million – The face of McLaren Mercedes, Hamilton’s looks and talent make him one of the most marketable commodities around. A former champion, he appears equally at home modelling Hugo Boss as he does behind the wheel of his chrome and red Vodafone-backed beast.

3. Michael Schumacher: $20m – It is a surprise to see the “Schu” battling to qualify his car in the top-ten but no stretch of the imagination to recognise that the Red Baron is still one of the highest earners in world sport.

Alongside Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, he is the most recogniseable man in world sport.

4. Felipe Massa: $17.7m – He might be Ferrari’s No.2 driver but that still bestows plenty of kudos _ and cash. Not as good as Alonso but the fans, and sponsors, still court the Brazilian.

5. Sebastian Vettel – $16m – The German wunderkind recently signed a $64 million deal with Red Bull that will see him stay with the Renault powered team until 2014. He will soon be accelerating to the front of the earners’ grid and will no doubt top the earners list when his list of personal sponsors grow with his success.

6. Jenson Button – $11m – With talent, hunk-appeal and a championship to boot, Button remains both a fans’ and a sponsors’ favourite.

His recent success will only up his worth.

7. Nico Rosberg – $10m – A young German star driving for Mercedes. Say no more.

8. Mark Webber – $8m – It has taken Webber more than a few years to find a team capable of reflecting his talent.

Could be in for a big payday if he decides to delay retirement and continue chasing the title he almost won last year.

9. Rubens Barrichello – $6.2m – A veteran star, he was brought to Williams to help restore the team to its former glory. So far it hasn’t worked.

10. Jarno Trulli -$3.8m – A driver of immense talent who doesn’t seem to have the car to match.

Source : dailytelegraph.com.au