Red Bull spend highlights budget-cap challenge

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen Red Bull

Max Verstappen Red Bull

Red Bull’s F1 team spent slightly less money last year than in 2018 – but still face substantial cutbacks to comply with the FIA budget cap being introduced for 2021.

Newly-released accounts, reported by, reveal the Milton Keynes team spent £237.3m last year, a fall of £2.3m compared to the 2018 figure. It followed rises of £33.7m in 2017 and £12.9m in 2018.

The figures reflect that last year the team switched from being a paying Renault engine customer to becoming the works team of Honda, with the change in the commercial terms of their power-unit deal effectively cancelling out the inevitable trend in rising expenditure in other areas.

Like rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull will need to undergo significant restructuring in the coming months as they prepare for the new FIA financial regulations and budget cap from 2021.

The budget cap of $145m equates to around £113m, less than half of Red Bull’s 2019 spend, although there are many exclusions.

The Red Bull team’s overall income remained stable in 2019, rising only slightly from £245.1m to £245.4m, with the team retaining third place in the constructors’ World Championship and therefore earning a similar amount from the F1 organisation. They declared a modest profit of £618K, down from £923K in 2018.

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Max Verstappen Red Bull.jpg
Dr Helmut Marko has rated Red Bull’s prospects of bringing the Honda engine operation in-house at “80-85%”.

Assessing the team’s figures is made more complicated by Red Bull Racing’s relationship with their immediate parent company Red Bull Technology (RBT), which employs the staff associated with the design and manufacturing of the car.

However, team boss Christian Horner has always insisted the RBR numbers reflect the true cost of running the actual F1 team, with RBT treated as a supplier.

RBT also deals with AlphaTauri and does business outside of F1, notably with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie project.

RBT’s overall figures, which include those for RBR as outlined above, show income rose from £314.0m in 2018 to £337.6m in 2019, while costs rose from £265.9m to £278.3m. RBT’s profit fell from £10.1m in 2018 to £8.0m in 2019.

The financial contribution paid by RBT’s Austrian parent Red Bull GmbH, which represents the top-up of outside sponsorship and F1 income, was reduced from £68.7m in 2018 to £63.0m last year.

RBT staff numbers show a continuing steady rise, with the last four years indicating a progression of 758, 793, 809 and 866 up to 2019, again reflecting the challenge the organisation faces in meeting the new budget cap. RBR itself officially employs only 59 people.

In his notes to the accounts, signed before the budget cap was lowered after the global health pandemic hit, Horner stressed the need to keep a lid on spending.

“The directors consider race performance, Championship performance and a controlled cost base to be principal key performance indicators to assess progress towards strategic goals,” he wrote.

“Costs remain under control and the team is mindful of adaptions necessary for new financial regulations coming into force for 2021.”

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