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Prize money in motor sport


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#1 rallen

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 16:49

I was reading a few threads recently where the topic of drivers salary's came up, there have been cases in the past where drivers in competitive teams moved or were got rid off because they either wanted more money or the team manager wanted to cut their wages. I recall Damon Hill was offered a McLaren drive for 1997 but only on a pay per result basis (and I think Piquet was with Benetton wasn't he? anyone more info on this) and there has been an excellent thread recently on Niki Lauda and his contract negotiations with McLaren and Ron Denis. The history of Motorsport is full of driver moves even from competitive teams because of money and perceived slights etc.

I like to think if I was a top racing driver I would have stayed with the team that would give me more of a chance to win rather than a fat cheque, though human nature is very different in reality! So anyway I was wondering how much the prize money would be over the years, if you were regularly successful would you still be able to have the lifestyle you wanted if your main sponsor say Marlboro or your team manager wanted to pay you a lot less the following season. How much did you get from a win or a points finish. I suspect in the early 70's it may not be that much but surely in recent terms it would have increased. Naturally you have sponsorship but could Jim Clark or Graham Hill have become rich men just on their results?

Any additional comments on driver wages would be welcome as well. Didn't Andretti hold Colin Chapman* over a barrel over resigning for him so he had to ask JPS to stump up more money. Was Colin known to be frugel with drivers or was he no better or worse than other team managers? There is this interesting paragraph on Wikipedia "During the 1982 season, Mansell planned to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar event in order to earn extra money. At the time Mansell was paid £50,000 a year and was offered £10,000 to take part in Le Mans. Chapman believed that by entering the Le Mans race, Mansell was exposing himself to unnecessary risk and paid him £10,000 to not take part in the race. Chapman extended Mansell's contract to the end of the 1984 season in a deal that made him a millionaire"

Anyway sorry for the slightly rambling question but I would appreciate any info.

*I am a Team Lotus fan so do not intent this to sound critical in any way of Colin Chapman

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#2 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 19:59

I like to think if I was a top racing driver I would have stayed with the team that would give me more of a chance to win rather than a fat cheque, though human nature is very different in reality! So anyway I was wondering how much the prize money would be over the years, if you were regularly successful would you still be able to have the lifestyle you wanted if your main sponsor say Marlboro or your team manager wanted to pay you a lot less the following season. How much did you get from a win or a points finish. I suspect in the early 70's it may not be that much but surely in recent terms it would have increased. Naturally you have sponsorship but could Jim Clark or Graham Hill have become rich men just on their results?


Prize money is always paid to the entrant, naturally, and whether the driver sees ANY of it depends entirely on his contract with the team. In US racing, it was the "norm" for a long time to give the driver 40 % of any winnings, but in Grand Prix racing things were certainly different. I doubt if many of the drivers did get a bonus from the prize money, they had fixed retainers that were far more important.

#3 D-Type

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 20:18

And in an earlier period staring money was a large element in the equation either for the cars or for star drivers. For example Ferrari missed the inaugural World Championship round at Silverstone as the starting money offered was not substantial enough and Stirling Moss was no doubt well paid forsome of his appearances.

There are some early threads about what money drivers could earn, but they tend to cover an earlier period than you are interested in.

Edited by D-Type, 20 April 2010 - 14:06.


#4 rallen

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 21:18

Prize money is always paid to the entrant, naturally, and whether the driver sees ANY of it depends entirely on his contract with the team. In US racing, it was the "norm" for a long time to give the driver 40 % of any winnings, but in Grand Prix racing things were certainly different. I doubt if many of the drivers did get a bonus from the prize money, they had fixed retainers that were far more important.


Really, I never knew that - I just assumed that the drivers would be the ones who would get the prize money, all be it not that much in the early days. I was just trying to work out if a driver was on a basic contract but kept winning races or won a WDC he could be a rich man or at least stay with the team and not be forced to move on for financial reasons. I was always dissapointed Damon moved to Arrows for the money for instance, I would have thought a WDC and 21 race wins (up to that point) in the mid to late 90's would have made him more finanically independent. Likewise its nice to think that when motor racing was very dangerous in the 70's people like Stewart and Peterson could have earned good money for taking risks to win races.


#5 rallen

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 21:20

And in an earlier period staring money was a large element in the equation either for the cars or for star drivers. For example Ferrari missed the inaugural World Championship round at silverstone as the starting money offered was not substantial enough and tirling Moss was no doubt well paid forsome of his appearances.

There are some early threads about what money drivers could earn, but they tend to cover an earlier period than you are interested in.


Thanks D-Type, admittedly I had the 70's, 80's and early 90's in mind when I started the thread, for the main reason that the sport was getting richer then and I assumed the prize money would have more of an effect on the drivers and could even dictate race seats. I will go and check them out.

#6 LittleChris

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 22:24

I was always dissapointed Damon moved to Arrows for the money for instance, I would have thought a WDC and 21 race wins (up to that point) in the mid to late 90's would have made him more finanically independent.


I don't think it was about the money, more the fact that Arrows was one of the few seats remaining after Frank sacked him ...

#7 Dave Ware

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 22:28

I recall reading, in 1973, that JYS's earnings for that year were $600,000, which was considered quite a lot of money. In Revson's biography, it's reported that he made $300,000 in '73, which was also considered quite a lot of money.

In Stewart's case, a lot of that was probably from endorsment and such. Revvie had some endorsments also but no where near Stewart's. I assume those figures include salary and prize money.

For 1974, Ferrari offered Revson $100,000 to drive F1 and sports cars, and he felt this was insufficient. To give you an idea of what a driver of Revson's caliber was looking for at that time.

One reason the Can-Am was attractive to some Europeans was the substantial prize money. When Surtees won the '66 Can-Am he won $70,000 in prize and championship money, more than he would have gotten for winning every Grand Prix in that year. Bruce McLaren didn't win any Can-Ams that year, but was third in the championship and earned more prize money than in 3 seasons of F1. (This info is from Pete Lyons' "Can-Am Photo History.) That gives you an idea of the prize money offered for the Grand Prix races.

Also on the subject of driver earnings: one thing that always struck me as odd was that after retirement, both Jody Scheckter and Nelson Piquet started non-racing businesses. Did they need the money to maintain their lifestyles, or did they really want to run these businesses? It strikes me as odd because if I were a retiring world champion, I'd either work with a racing team or devote myself to a suitable yacht with a bikini-uniformed crew. But maybe that's just me.




#8 RA Historian

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 22:42

I think that a factor in a driver leaving a team for more money at another team that may not be as competitive may be the driver's feeling of self worth. That is, the money in and of itself may not be that important. But as a measuring tool of that driver it can be very important, if you follow me. Whether the retainer is two million or five million dollars is secondary to the need for the retainer to be an increase over the year before and/or more than driver 'B' is to receive. Another way of putting it is that the money is nice of course, but it is greater worth to the driver that it be more than other driver(s). Don't know if I am expressing it clearly, but I hope that you know what I mean.
Tom

Edited by RA Historian, 12 January 2010 - 22:43.


#9 rallen

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 23:43

One reason the Can-Am was attractive to some Europeans was the substantial prize money. When Surtees won the '66 Can-Am he won $70,000 in prize and championship money, more than he would have gotten for winning every Grand Prix in that year. Bruce McLaren didn't win any Can-Ams that year, but was third in the championship and earned more prize money than in 3 seasons of F1. (This info is from Pete Lyons' "Can-Am Photo History.) That gives you an idea of the prize money offered for the Grand Prix races.


Thanks Dave, that is really interesting, the figures you have quoted are more than I thought they would be for the era. I would love a breakdown say of the prize money for each season and each points finish. I wonder how much say a 6th place and one point would get you in prize money in 1974 or how much a win would get you in 1978. I am sure this information must be out there.

#10 rallen

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 23:48

I think that a factor in a driver leaving a team for more money at another team that may not be as competitive may be the driver's feeling of self worth. That is, the money in and of itself may not be that important. But as a measuring tool of that driver it can be very important, if you follow me. ..... Don't know if I am expressing it clearly, but I hope that you know what I mean.
Tom


No, I understand you perfectly and see this as being the case for most drivers in some way, I was just curious as to how much a driver could earn just based on results, and what the sports financial value was on talent and achievement.

#11 Mansell4PM

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:57

I don't think it was about the money, more the fact that Arrows was one of the few seats remaining after Frank sacked him ...


IIRC did Damon not find out from one of Autosport's journalists that Williams had signed Frentzen for '97?

Had things run the course Frank intended, Damon might not even have managed to secure the Arrows drive for '97.

Not Williams' finest hour.

#12 rallen

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:36

IIRC did Damon not find out from one of Autosport's journalists that Williams had signed Frentzen for '97?

Had things run the course Frank intended, Damon might not even have managed to secure the Arrows drive for '97.

Not Williams' finest hour.


Yeah, Damon could have been a double world champion and I think would have done a much better job than both HHF and JV in 1997 and with his car development skills may have made Williams more competitive after 1997 when they started to slide. Never really understood why Williams was so bad at keeping drivers. In another thread on Damon, someone said that he was only paid a small amount at Williams because everone wanted the seat and thus he went to Arrows only for the money as he saw this as basically earning his living!

As McLaren only offered him money for results - something that annoyed Damon as a WDC and he said, I could get pole, lead the race from the start to the last lap where the car fails though no fault of my own and I would get no money for that weekend. Which I see his point having said that, I wonder how much he could have earned just on say, two 3rds, five 5th places and one 2nd? for example?

#13 Michael Ferner

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:46

To be fair, Williams had signed Frentzen early on (which was seen as a "smart move" back then) and had to decide who to keep, which must've been difficult with two drivers like Hill and Villeneuve. I have to say that I was never THAT impressed with Villeneuve, certainly not in comparison with Damon who rather easily outshone him in '96, but then again he was new to F1 that year, and many saw a lot of potential in him, so it was decided to sack Hill - I don't think for a minute that it was an easy decision!! But it was certainly wrong, and I for one believe that FW would subscribe to that today.

#14 D-Type

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:26

~
Also on the subject of driver earnings: one thing that always struck me as odd was that after retirement, both Jody Scheckter and Nelson Piquet started non-racing businesses. Did they need the money to maintain their lifestyles, or did they really want to run these businesses? It strikes me as odd because if I were a retiring world champion, I'd either work with a racing team or devote myself to a suitable yacht with a bikini-uniformed crew. But maybe that's just me.

Surely this is simply a function of a driver's competitive personality - the motivation would be as much "to succeed"as it would be to make more money.

Edited by D-Type, 20 April 2010 - 10:56.


#15 rallen

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 21:37

I don't want to bump my own thread, but is there anyway I can find out say how much prize money and f1 driver would get for a 3rd place in 1973 or 5th in 1979 for example? I would have thought with all the experience on here someone would be able to guide me to the right place of finding out the relative prize money over the years. Would appreciate any input.

#16 RAP

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 06:38

I don't want to bump my own thread, but is there anyway I can find out say how much prize money and f1 driver would get for a 3rd place in 1973 or 5th in 1979 for example? I would have thought with all the experience on here someone would be able to guide me to the right place of finding out the relative prize money over the years. Would appreciate any input.

1977 British GP Programme said "The budget for the GP is in Excess of £175,000 and will be paid to the Formula 1 Association for distribtion to entrants. £100 will be paid to the driver setting pole postion and a trophy and £200 to the driver setting fastest lap"
So, already it was all secret !

By comparision the winner of the F3 race got £500 and the Touring car race paid £80 to the outright winer + £240 for 1st in Class A. (the other class wins being £200/160/140. The historic car race paid £60 to each class winner.

To convert to 2010 using UK Retail Prices Index multiple the above by about 5 times ie the F3 race = £2500

#17 Rob

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 09:37

But it was certainly wrong, and I for one believe that FW would subscribe to that today.


He does. He refers to Hill's sacking as his greatest mistake.


#18 taran

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 10:12

In the case of Hill, he was already an elderly driver in 1997 and realized he wouldn't be going on for much longer. He needed to cash in immediately. And in hindsight, he was actually pretty good but at the time, nobody really rated him that much. Maybe Hill was also a bit afraid of a performance based contract with Hakkinen in the other car?

As to leaving a competitive team for a another team (which may or may not be competitive) because your salary is cut, it is a matter of respect and desirability IMO. A team that doesn't seem to want you that much will not give you the tools and the environment to succeed. Let's take Hill and Villeneuve at Williams. If Hill could stay at a much reduced salary with Villeneuve as the golden boy, would Hill have had the psychological strength to beat Villeneuve? Would YOU stay at your job if your colleague was better paid for the same job? And had better prospects?

Same thing with a Klien at Red Bull. They gave his cockpit to another driver but offered him reserve status. Why would you want to stay? The team obviously doesn't rate you and you will never become a regular driver again, merely a stop-gap until they sign the next baby schumi. Better to strike out for new pastures and rebuild your career than take the easy option and slide into obscurity. At least, that's what I would do.