Forbes: Schumacher highest-earning driver image

( He may not have reprised his earlier successes since returning, but Michael Schumacher is still the highest-earning driver in formula one.

That is the finding of business magazine Forbes, according to its latest annual ranking of the world’s 50 highest paid athletes.

German Schumacher, 42, appears at number 9 on the list with a reported US $34 million in earnings.

The number takes into consideration not only his Mercedes retainer but, according to Forbes, an athletes’ “bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income”.

Schumacher is therefore two places higher than Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, with $32 million.

Lewis Hamilton ranks 15th with his $30 million, two places behind MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, with $31m.

NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson also appear in the top 50, with Earnhardt ranked highest of the trio with his 17th.

Forbes said the world’s highest earning athlete is Tiger Woods ($75m), with the average earnings of the top 50 being $28m — 11 per cent down on 2010.