LEWIS Hamilton is reportedly on the verge of signing a contract that will guarantee his place at the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team to the end of the 2020 season, and earn him a place among the list of highest-paid sports stars.
The contract is rumoured to be worth £40 million, or $A72 million, a year. That is before taking into account personal sponsorship from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger – Hamilton became a spokesperson for the clothing brand earlier this year
Football player Cristiano Ronaldo currently ranks as the highest paid sports star in the world, with Forbes reporting the Portuguese soccer star brought home $A120 million in the 12 months to June 2017. However, just $A64 million of that is part of his principal salary from his club, Real Madrid.
This means Hamilton’s $72 million pay packet would be the largest base salary of any athlete in the world.
The New York Post said Hamilton’s current F1 contract was worth $A49 million a year, with the Briton earning an extra $A10 million through personal endorsements.
If Hamilton’s personal sponsorships remain unchanged, he will likely add $A82 million to his bank account in 2018. That’s more than $9000 an hour, every hour of every day.
This year, F1 drivers will compete in 21 grands prix, which equates to Hamilton earning just less than $4 million per race.
The second-highest paid F1 driver is fellow four-time drivers’ champion winner Sebastian Vettel, who reportedly earned just less than $A50 million a year ($A49 million salary, $A648,000 sponsorships). Vettel’s contract with Ferrari also runs until 2020.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo reportedly brought home $A10.45 million in 2017, after claiming his fifth grand prix victory. Ricciardo’s current contract is rumoured to have a relatively humble base salary, with most of the West Australian’s income coming through performance-related bonuses.
Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of the year, and is one of the key players in this year’s F1 silly season.
Golfer Jason Day is Australia’s highest paid sports star, with an $A18.29 million paycheck, helped by a multimillion-dollar sponsorship with sports brand Nike.
Craig Lowndes is often touted as the highest-paid Supercars driver, with a speculated annual income of $2 million, with most coming via personal sponsorships and endorsements.
Speaking about his future in Formula 1, Hamilton hinted that his next contract won’t necessarily be the last, despite turning 35 in 2020.
“It doesn't feel like the start of the final chapter, and I don't feel as though I am about to embark on my last contract,” Hamilton said. “I am not sure how I will feel in two or three years' time but I am back here in March for my 12th season and I am so excited.
“I don't know where it comes from – this feeling of just wanting to excel – but I really, really, more than anything currently in my life, want to excel next weekend.
“I want to arrive in Melbourne fit. I want to hit my target weight. I want to kill it through practice, get pole position and I want to win the race convincingly,” he said.
“I don't know how long this feeling is going to last when I go into a new season, but as long as I am still feeling like this I will keep going.”