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The highest-paid drivers in the world of auto racing

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Jimmie JohnsonSarah Crabill/GettyRacing drivers put their lives on the line every time they get behind the wheel, so it makes sense that they’re paid handsomely for their services.

Even with salaries on the decline throughout NASCAR, the sport’s top drivers rake in huge sums of money.

Meanwhile, the top names in Formula One make significantly more than their stock car-driving counterparts. However, that drops quickly as there is a $25 million gap between the third- and fourth-highest paid racers on the circuit.

Full-time driving gigs in racing’s top levels are exceedingly difficult to come by, but those who do succeed are ultimately rewarded with big paychecks. Below, check out the top 15 highest-paid drivers in the world.


15. Kimi Raikkonen

15. Kimi Raikkonen

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

Series: Formula One

Team: Scuderia Ferrari

Salary and earnings (2017): $7 million

One thing to know: Ten years removed from his lone Formula One championship, Raikkonen isn’t having his best season, but he did notch a strong second-place finish at the Hungaroring in July.

Source: Fox Sports

14. Danica Patrick

14. Danica Patrick

Chuck Burton/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Salary and earnings (2016): $7.2 million

One thing to know: Patrick is one of the highest-paid NASCAR drivers in the sport, but she doesn’t perform like it. Through nearly five full seasons, she has yet to post a top-5 finish in any race.

Source: Forbes

13. Valtteri Bottas

13. Valtteri Bottas

Luca Bruno/AP

Series: Formula One

Team: Mercedes-AMG Petronas

Salary and earnings (2017): $8.5 million

One thing to know: With wins in Russia and Austria, Bottas has been a consistent force in his first year with Mercedes. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.

Source: Fox Sports

12. Brad Keselowski

12. Brad Keselowski

Wade Payne/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Team Penske

Salary and earnings (2016): $9.6 million

One thing to know: Keselowski enjoyed a rapid rise to the elite ranks of NASCAR, winning the 2012 Cup Series in just his third full season.

Source: Forbes

11. Joey Logano

11. Joey Logano

Matt Slocum/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Team Penske

Salary and earnings (2016): $9.7 million

One thing to know: Logano won his first race when he was just 19 years old, edging veterans Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch at New Hampshire in 2009.

Source: Forbes

10. Kasey Kahne

10. Kasey Kahne

Wade Payne/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Salary and earnings (2016): $9.8 million

One thing to know: Kahne picked up the biggest victory of his career earlier this year at the Brickyard 400. The win snapped a drought of nearly three years.

Source: Forbes

9. Matt Kenseth

9. Matt Kenseth

Wade Payne/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Salary and earnings (2016): $10.2 million

One thing to know: With the 2003 championship and 38 career Cup wins to his name, including two at the Daytona 500, Kenseth is one of the most accomplished NASCAR drivers active today.

Source: Forbes

8. Kevin Harvick

8. Kevin Harvick

John Amis/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Salary and earnings (2016): $10.9 million

One thing to know: A former Cup Series champion, Harvick isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Earlier this year, he blamed Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s massive popularity for NASCAR’s failure to connect with a wider fan base.

Source: Forbes

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Wade Payne/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Salary and earnings (2017): $13.4 million

One thing to know: The son of a seven-time Cup Series winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the faces of NASCAR. He’s been named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for 14 years in a row and counting, but that reign will end soon enough – he’s retiring at the end of this season.

Source: Forbes

6. Denny Hamlin

6. Denny Hamlin

Paul Sancya/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Salary and earnings (2016): $13.4 million

One thing to know: With three podium finishes and more than 30 race wins, Hamlin is one of the top NASCAR drivers to never win a championship. At fifth in points, that could change this year.

Source: Forbes

5. Kyle Busch

5. Kyle Busch

Matt Slocum/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Salary and earnings (2016): $13.5 million

One thing to know: Busch has been a prolific winner since he debuted as a 19-year-old rookie in 2005. Among active drivers, only Jimmie Johnson can top his total of 40 career victories.

Source: Forbes

4. Jimmie Johnson

4. Jimmie Johnson

Charles Krupa/AP

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Salary and earnings (2017): $16.8 million

One thing to know: With five consecutive championships between 2006 and 2010, as well as two more in 2013 and 2016, Johnson is one of the greatest drivers in the history of racing.

Source: Forbes

3. Fernando Alonso

3. Fernando Alonso

Michael Conroy/AP

Series: Formula One

Team: McLaren-Honda

Salary and earnings (2017): $34 million

One thing to know: A two-time Formula One champion, Alonso is the only Spanish driver to win an F1 Grand Prix in the series’ history. He made his first career appearance at the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year.

Source: Forbes

2. Sebastian Vettel

2. Sebastian Vettel

Antonio Calanni/AP

Series: Formula One

Team: Scuderia Ferrari

Salary and earnings (2017): $38 million

One thing to know: Vettel won four consecutive Formula One championships between 2010 and 2013, cementing his status as the greatest German driver since Michael Schumacher.

Source: Forbes

1. Lewis Hamilton

1. Lewis Hamilton

Antonio Calanni/AP

Series: Formula One

Team: Mercedes-AMG Petronas

Salary and earnings (2017): $38 million

One thing to know: Taking endorsements into account, Lewis Hamilton is the highest-paid driver in the world and the richest athlete in all of the United Kingdom. His favorite things to spend money on include classic cars, private jets and an art collection.

Source: Forbes



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