F1 champ Max Verstappen’s new contract with Oracle Red Bull Racting will pay him upwards of $50 million per year. (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Max Verstappen Makes F1 History With New Red Bull Contract

The 2021 Formula 1 champion’s new salary with Oracle Red Bull Racing deservedly puts him among the highest-earning athletes in any sport around the world.

In becoming the first driver not named Lewis Hamilton to win the Formula 1 driver’s championship since 2016, Max Verstappen made history in several ways last year.

The 24-year-old is the first Dutch-born driver to win racing’s greatest individual prize, the first driver to do it in a Honda since Ayrton Senna in 1991, and the first Red Bull Racing driver to take home gold since Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

Now, Red Bull has reportedly rewarded Verstappen with at least a four-year deal worth a $53.3 million salary per year, the largest contract in F1 history.

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Verstappen’s thrilling, controversial win at the 2021 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December delivered a massive windfall to himself and Oracle Red Bull Racing, but also for TV partners around the world and F1 parent company Liberty Media. With 963,000 American viewers watching the finale on ESPN, the 2021 season averaged 934,000 viewers per race, obliterating the previous US record average of 748,000 from 1995.

Verstappen’s new salary now deservedly puts him among the top athletes in any sport around the world. He’ll make more than any NBA player, besting Stephen Curry’s $48.07 million salary with the Golden State Warriors for 2022-2023. Patrick Mahomes’ $45 million 2022 salary is, as of now, the largest in the NFL. Max Scherzer’s new contract with the New York Mets is slated to pay $43.3 million in 2022, though that number is in doubt as the MLB lockout will now see the cancellation of regular season games.

Only Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ($97.5 million), soccer superstars Lionel Messi ($97 million), Neymar ($75 million), and Cristiano Ronaldo ($70 million), and F1 rival Lewis Hamilton ($70 million) made more in sports earnings in 2021 than Verstappen will make in 2022 on his Red Bull contract alone, which notably doesn’t include any winnings and bonuses he’s sure to earn.

That’s a signal of not just financial power, but global star power.

Consider as well that Max Verstappen is just 24 years old.

Red Bull now gets to avoid the frantic annual silly season that takes place in Formula 1 (as famously, entertainingly documented in Netflix docuseries Drive To Survive). Verstappen’s previous deal extended through 2023; he’s now committed through his age 30 season.

The contract is now similar to Hamilton’s, though both have their share of unique individual bonuses, the first of which is available at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20. Not coincidentally, the contract extension comes just three weeks after the announcement of Oracle’s five-year, $500 million deal to become Red Bull Racing’s title sponsor.

With a new contract and a championship under his belt, get ready for a bigger, badder Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry that could very well dominate the next era of the sport.

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