First F1 driver to earn $1million salary??

First F1 driver to earn $1million salary??

Post by Racefan_Da » Sat, 17 Apr 2004 15:43:58

This question came up on a F1 message board - not sure of the answer so
maybe someone here can help?!

We were wondering which was the first F1 driver to earn $1million/season?

What we know about escalating driver salaries in the late 70's/early 80s:

- Lauda successfully negotiated with Bernie Ecclestone for $2million for
1980, but tore the contract when he quit at Montreal Grand Prix, 1979.
However, what he was making in 1979 is unknown - a jump to $2million from
anything under $1.5million seems unlikely?

- When Lauda came out of retirement at the end of 1981, he (according to
his book 'Meine Story') "promptly asked for more money that anyone had
ever earned in Formula 1." .. He then told them he would earn $1 for his
driving ability and the rest for his 'personality'.

- Piquet was lured to Williams for $3.3million for the 1986 season, the
highest salary at the time.

I found on Google that someone mentioned Gerald Donaldson's book on Gilles
Villeneuve stated that he was *below* the million-dollar level at the time
of his death(1982) but that he was negotiating for higher.

So was it Lauda, Gilles, Andretti, Arnoux, or someone else who first made
a million in one season?