The sport of F1 racing is one of the most popular in the world and one of the most dangerous for its competitors. These skilled drivers compete in 20 races throughout the world in hopes of earning the most points and winning the world championship. The 2012 season saw German driver Sebastian Vettel earn the championship with 281 points, defeating Spaniard Fernando Alonso by just three points. There was a bit of controversy involving Vettel possibly making a pass during a caution, but F1 officials reviewed the move in question and determined it was legal. Rounding out the top three in the 2012 standings were Kimi Räikkönen from Finland, and Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button from the United Kingdom
While these five drivers finished at the top of the standings, who made the most money?
10.Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham F1 Team, €4 million
Kovalainen made the 10th most amount of money as anyone in the league last year despite only finishing 22nd in the points. The Finnish born driver finished inside the top 15 just seven times in 2012 has one career win, one career pole position, and just four podium finishes.
9.Kimi Räikkönen, Lotus F1 Team, €5 million
This Finnish driver finished third in the point standings in 2012 after finishing in the top 10 in all but one race during the season. Were it not for a 14th place finish at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix, he would have been in the top 10 for all 20 races, but still would have needed better finishes to compete for the title. He also had seven top five finishes during the season, including a win in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It was his 20th career victory in the Formula One World Championships.
8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, €8million
The 44-year-old racing legend brought in €8 million in 2012 and finished in 13th place at the end of the year. The German-born driver finished just 13 of the 20 races in 2012, with a third place finish at the 2012 European Grand Prix being his best performance. Schumacher has 91 career wins, 68 career pole positions, and 155 podium finishes.
7. Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, €10 million
The Australian driver finished just outside the top five in the overall standings, missing out by just nine points. The 36-year-old began the 2012 season with four straight fourth place finishes before winning his first of two races on the season in the sixth race at the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix and again in the ninth stop of the tour at the 2012 British Grand Prix. He now has nine career victories and with his four podium appearances during the season, now has 35 overall.
6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, €10 million
The only Brazilian racer to crack the top 10 in the final standings is tied for seventh best in money made last season. Massa failed to add to his 11 win total coming into the season and earned podium finishes in just two 2012 races.
5. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, €10 million
The 27-year-old German also made €10 million in 2012 as he finished ninth in the final standings. He picked up a victory at the third race of the season in China, but struggled for much of the season. He would reach the podium in just one more race during the season and couldn’t crack the top 10 in the final six races.
4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, €10 million
The German-born Vettel is the 2012 Formula One World Champion. He finished the season with five victories including wins in four straight at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix, 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, 2012 Korean Grand Prix, and the 2012 Indian Grand Prix. He also won the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix and had another three second place finishes and two third place finishes. He now has 27 career wins, 38 pole positions, 48 podium finishes and three straight championships.
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, €16 million
The British-born Hamilton made €16 million in 2012 after winning four races, another three podium spots, and starting on the pole position seven times. He did have five races in which he did not finish, hurting his chances at catching Vettel or Alonso in the points. The 28-year-old now has 21 career wins, 50 podium finishes, 26 pole positions, and was the 2008 Formula One World Champion.
2. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, €16 million
A teammate of Hamilton, Button brought in the same €16 million in 2012 with McLaren-Mercedes. Button bookended the season with victories in the 2012 Australian Grand Prix and 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and added another victory during the season with the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. He had another seven top five finishes, but finished outside the top 10 too many times to get into contention for the championship. He finished in fifth place, two points behind his teammate. Button, 33, now has 15 career wins, 49 podium finishes, and just eight pole positions. He, like Hamilton, is trying to regain his championship form, having been the last driver to win in 2009 before Vettel began his streak.
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, €30 million
The Spaniard made nearly double the last two drivers on this list in 2012. Ferrari gave the 31-year-old €30 million to drive for them last season and he nearly walked away with the title. Were it not for the two races in which he did not finish, Alonso could have taken the title away from Vettel. Instead, he will have to be happy with his 13 podium finishes he secured in 2012, including three wins. In the 2012 German Grand Prix, Alonso started the race from the pole and earned the victory, the 30th of his career. He also has 87 career podium finishes and 22 pole positions and is the last driver before Vettel to repeat as Formula One World Champion. He won the titles in 2005 and 2006 and has finished in the top three in three of those six seasons since.