The Premier Class World Championship has managed to survive these two years of COVID-19, but the financial side-effects of the pandemic are still very real. The fall in advertising and ticket sales’ revenue has translated into a 20% decrease in the MotoGP riders’ salaries for 2022 , which were already on a declining trend for the last few seasons.
Both Championship organizers and factories’ profits have seriously dwindled since the breakout of the pandemic. Also, manufacturers suffered a sudden drop in motorcycle sales during the worst months of the health crisis. All of this has resulted in a reduction of the pilot payroll budget by almost eleven and a half million euros over the past few years. At the same time, teams have changed their competitive approach to prioritize investment in the development of the bike over the riders’ salaries.
New business model: Social networks
Media user trends have also led to a profound change in the corporate management of the sport. New fans are increasingly approaching MotoGP through social media, and these in turn are gaining more and more weight for brand positioning strategies. This new tendency has rendered the traditional sponsorship based on motorcycle stickers ineffective and outdated. Aware of this, advertising brands have reduced their teams’ budgets.
All of these factors have resulted in a 19.45% cut in MotoGP riders’ salaries for 2022. Specifically, the 24 pilots that make up this seasons’ grid will earn a collective 47 million euros, compared to the 58.5 million euros that they were paid in 2019. Alarmingly the wage gap between pilots is also getting wider, with a small and privileged group receiving some astronomical remunerations while others compete virtually for free.
Marc Marquez: The best-paid MotoGP pilot in 2022
For another year, Marc Marquez, who rode at Mandalika test, tops the list of highest-paid riders with a whooping 15-million-euro wage. In second place, but still very far away from the Honda star comes Joan Mir (Suzuki). The 2019 Spaniard champion will receive 6.5 million euros for his efforts, less than half the amount of his compatriot.
Third place of the MotoGP riders’ salaries for 2022 belongs to current defending champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), who will be paid one-fifth of Marquez’ salary, or what is the same, 4 million euros, the same amount as Alex Rins (Suzuki).
Ducati: More money for the bike and less for the pilot
The Ducati riders come one step below in the salary scale. The team from Borgo Panigale has led the change of strategy in MotoGP, prioritising the development of their Desmosedici and leaving the pilots’ contracts in second place. Both Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia will be paid an equal amount of 3.8 million each. Following their new business model, they have added a large line-up of young drivers with little financial aspirations to their ranks.
The proletarians fighting for glory
The hiring of Franco Morbidelli in replacement of fallen-from-grace Maverick Viñales has helped alleviate the pressure on Yamaha’s bank accounts. The Italo-Brazilian will earn a meagre million and a half if we compare it with the 8 million stipend of his Catalan predecessor. Speaking of Viñales, both he and his Aprilia Spaniard fellow Aleix Espargaro will have to settle for two million euros each.
As for KTM, its 4 men strong line-up (Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner) will only be paid 3.6 million euros, collectively.
At the bottom of the list, Honda will invest a total of 3 million euros to cover the payrolls of Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami, the last two belonging to the LCR satellite team.
Images of MotoGP riders’ salaries for 2022: MotoGP.