In 2018, the MotoGP teams paid more than 58 million euros to the 24 riders who took part in the championship during the season, a figure that in 2022 will be reduced to just over 47 million, a reduction that is close to twenty percent. hundred.
The main reason why the pilots’ wage bill has dropped by almost 11 and a half million euros over the last three years has been none other than the COVID-19 pandemic, which in 2020 punished everyone’s coffers extremely harshly the actors involved in the championship. The builders stopped their factories and closed their dealerships; motorcycle sales plummeted, and the delay in the start of the world championship – until mid-July – pushed promoters and teams to the limit, as a result of the lack of exposure.
Another determining element must be found in the withdrawals of some stars such as Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and, more recently, Valentino Rossi. All of them preceded by an enviable track record in many cases, proportional to the salary to be received. Driven by the coronavirus, Ducati carried out a radical change in philosophy, and went from paying millionaire salaries to its riders, to focusing its investment on the motorcycle, and on increasing the roster of riders under its umbrella.
The new consumption habits of the audience, and the change in the nature of the relationship that large corporations seek with the final customer ( engagement ), especially through social networks, has caused the traditional sponsorship model, the which was based on placing an adhesive on the motorcycle, has become obsolete. That, in turn, has also lowered the figures that the brands paid to the teams.
Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team, will be the highest paid rider on the MotoGP grid in 2022
During the last months of 2021, Motorsport.com held conversations with members of different teams, with managers and lawyers involved in the championship, as well as with some of the World Championship drivers, in order to make an approximate X-ray of the salary mass that concentrated the MotoGP grid, there for 2018, and project how it will be in 2022.
The conclusion is that, three years ago, the pilots received 58 and a half million euros, an average of about 2.4 million per head. In 2022, as a token, the 24 riders who will take part in the MotoGP world championship will receive 47,150,000 euros, an average of 1.96, a reduction of 19.45%.
Huge imbalances between MotoGP riders in terms of salary
The average figure, almost two million per head, may seem more than reasonable despite the fact that they are top-level athletes who risk their lives on the asphalt every Grand Prix weekend. However, as is the case in most disciplines, huge salary imbalances mean that some drivers ride practically for free.
In 2018, the largest portion of the cake was shared by five megastars: Jorge Lorenzo , who earned fifteen million euros at Ducati; Marc Márquez, who received ten from Honda; the two Yamaha riders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales , six million each; and Dani Pedrosa , who pocketed four.
There was an upper-middle class, with Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins (Suzuki), the Espargaró brothers (Aprilia in the case of Aleix and KTM, in Pol’s), or Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) who were between one and three million euros, while a total of twelve pilots received less than 500,000. Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Aspar) closed the list with a salary of 80,000 euros.
In 2022 the highest paid rider on the grid will be Marc Márquez, with fifteen million chips (not counting prizes for victories or titles), followed at a great distance by the last two MotoGP world champions, Joan Mir (6.5 million ) and Fabio Quartararo, who in his second year with Yamaha will earn four million, waiting to make the big leap when he renews. Suzuki’s Alex Rins joins the list of the richest, with another four million chips.
The middle class remains, but while in 2018 there were salaries of three million (Iannone) and some comfortably above two, in 2022 there are nine pilots who earn between one and two million, while the rest, eleven, will be below of the six figures.
Honda’s payroll is the highest. The renewal of Marc Márquez for the period 2021-2024, announced on February 20, 2020, before the pandemic broke out and the fatal series of injuries that has kept him out of action for almost an entire year, left the Japanese manufacturer without be able to manoeuvre. Despite this, the multi-champion, who in 2020 could only enlist at the first stop on the calendar (Jerez), where his ordeal began, made a gesture of generosity with the company, and agreed to receive “whatever Honda wanted” to pay him, as recognized a few months ago to Motorsport.com.
Parallel to the investment with its spearhead and main claim, HRC disburses just over three million euros, in the combined salaries of Pol Espargaró, Alex Márquez and Takaaki Nakagami.
Ducati hits the economic key
Who has better understood the new times that run has been Ducati. In 2018, the Borgo Panigale brand paid almost 17 million euros in salaries to Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, plus another three in prizes for the Italian. In total there were 20 million, more than a third of the rain of millions that concentrated the entire grid. The Spaniard was not renewed and Dovi did not accept a lower offer with a view to 2021. #04 was offered two and a half million base when in 2020 he had received around six, a difference that he interpreted as an invitation to leave .
Ducati has bet on young and hungry riders, radically adjusting what it allocates to wages
In 2021 Ducati has paid its drivers less than three million euros in tokens. That includes the base salary of his pair of factory drivers, Pecco Bagnaia (runner-up in the world) and Jack Miller; that of the duo of Pramac, Jorge Martín and Johann Zarco, and also that of Enea Bastianini (Avintia). In 2022 that number will rise slightly to 3.8 million.
The Italian factory has learned that the investment should focus on the development of the bike, on trying to make the Desmosedici the best prototype on the grid and, therefore, the most appealing for the riders. That strategy has allowed Ducati to bring together a group of young talents more hungry for results than money. At the gates of the World Cup that will start on March 6, in Qatar, things look good for them. The good feelings that both the GP21 and the GP22 transmit to those who ride them are directly proportional to the respect that the two bikes instill in the rivals who suffer them on the track.
Nothing to do with what happened at Suzuki, where the title achieved in 2020 has triggered the payroll in the Hamamatsu offices. In 2018 between Iannone and Rins, the house of the big S disbursed five million euros. In 2022, Mir and Rins will add 10.5 between them, all while the GSX-RR has been outdeveloped by most of its rivals.
Yamaha has won the lottery. Maverick Viñales, who had a contract of almost eight million euros signed for 2022, resigned from it to go to Aprilia. His side of the garage now belongs to Franco Morbidelli, who will receive less than one and a half million euros. Quartararo , who last year joined the official team with a record of 2.5, will reach four million this year. Even after having celebrated the title at the hands of the Frenchman, the factory with the three tuning forks will save some five million this year, and will pay its pilots in base salaries, half of what they had to pay last season.
Aprilia and KTM are a bit of a toss-up. While Noale’s house treats its pilots with kid gloves and elite athlete salaries (it pays four million to be distributed between Aleix and Viñales), in the Austrian constructor nobody comes close to two million. With 3.6 they cover what the contracts of their four pilots stipulate.
Paradoxically, the ‘common’ salaries, such as the 80,000 euros that Abraham entered four years ago, have disappeared: in 2022, those who will receive the least will do so for the value of 200,000 euros per year.
The pandemic has undoubtedly taken its toll on MotoGP as it has around the world, in general, and in the sport, in particular. It has had a direct impact on the management and operating model of the racing business, and has also influenced the mentality of many drivers, now more focused on winning races than money, aware that the former will lead to the latter.
Fabio Quartararo has not yet renewed his contract with Yamaha Factory Racing after being champion in 2021