Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021

Red Bull Racing spent £230m during Verstappen’s title-winning 2021 campaign

2021 F1 season

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Red Bull’s Formula 1 team spent £230 million during 2021, when it took Max Verstappen to the drivers’ championship but also exceeded the budget cap.

The team’s spending over the 22-race season was £10m higher than it was in 2020, when 17 races were held, but £7m less than during the 21-race 2019 championship.

Red Bull was found to have exceeded the FIA’s new budget cap during 2021. The FIA ruled in October it exceeded the £118m ($145m) cap by £1.864m and ordered the team to pay a £6m fine. Red Bull’s aerodynamic testing allocation was also cut.

The budget cap applies to specific expenses and does not include marketing, travel, accommodation, salaries for drivers and top executives plus some other costs. The FIA ruled Red Bull incorrectly excluded 13 separate items from the costs it submitted for the 2021 season.

Red Bull’s F1 operation made a profit of £1.3 million during 2021, almost twice what it made the year before.

Commenting on the figures, team principal Christian Horner said: “The financial position of the company was carefully managed through the year. The imposition of Financial Regulations and the associated cap on relevant costs has necessitated cost-saving initiatives across the business. The group have implemented a balanced cost reduction plan to ensure compliance with the new regulations for 2021.”

Regarding the rise in expenditure, Horner said: “Increase in ‘cost of sales’ reflect performance payments attributable to on-track successes”.

In addition to title success and increased profits, Red Bull won 11 races, nine more than it had in 2020.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Red Bull Racing spent £230m during Verstappen’s title-winning 2021 campaign”

  1. Red Bull’s Formula 1 team spent £230 million during 2021


    The FIA ruled in October it exceeded the £118m ($145m) cap by £1.864m

    Maybe I’m pressing the wrong buttons on my calculator, but every time I subtract 118 million from 230 million it fails to give a number anywhere near 1.864 Million
    I can add a special fudge-factor and divide the difference by 60, and we’re pretty close…

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      21st December 2022, 19:59

      Not everything is included in the budget cap. Excluded things include:

      Driver salaries
      The wages of the three highest-paid staff members
      Travel costs
      Entry and licence fees
      Property costs

      There’s a load more excluded items as well so that’s how their overall spend is much higher than the budget cap spend.

      1. So this is still a very significant advantage for the big teams even with the budget cap, perhaps explaining why the top 3 are still the same!

        Think about it: big teams could afford to spend 60 mil total on 2 top drivers if they wanted, while a team that can only spend 105 mil or so like haas will have to get cheaper drivers, and on top of that, even if they only spend 10 mil on drivers, their budget is further reduced; big teams can spend all of the 145 mil budget cap limit on car development.

        1. Yup. You are just a few years late to realize what was the resistance to do the budget cap.

      2. Wasn’t Adrian newey a contractor for the first time ever, so they didn’t have to count his wages

        1. That was what Red Bull and AN had set up, but the FIA auditors saw it differently and his contracted “salary” was included in the budget cap amount. Was he worth it …. ?

    2. As it says in the article, several items are not included in the budget cap.

    3. That is the reason why it takes the FIA 9 months to figure out if you exceeded the cost cap. How can we create rules to make it more complicated. Now even a tax reduction is part of the competition

  2. Would be interesting to see similar data for some of the other major teams, Mercedes, Alpine, McLaren and of course, not to forget, Ferrari.
    Without the other team data, I can hear the pillows getting ripped open and smell the tar being melted.

    1. The accounts of most of those teams are already available in the public domain. Red Bull were the last UK registered team to submit their accounts to Companies House, and were notable for also submitting those accounts quite a bit later than they were supposed to (around two months overdue).

      Ferrari is probably the main one that wouldn’t be available right now – since they are listed in the US, I believe that they operate to different accounting standards and their accounts won’t be published until early next year.

      1. Itsmeagain (@)
        22nd December 2022, 9:27

        The question is: why not publishing those budgets here, instead of writing such a polarizing title above this article.

        1. @itsme Because they were deemed inside the budget cap, so unless there was a glaring inconsistency present, it would constitute “not news”.

          Red Bull has a known discrepancy and now we have a reasonably good idea how big it is (i.e. it appears to be larger than the FIA said it was).

          1. @alianora-la-canta as the editor likes to spice-up the story of the budgetcap with endlessly publishing ‘new’ facts. It would be interesting to compare those with the budgets of the other teams. Otherwise what is the point of publishing this other than feeding the current polarisation between fans. We all know that facts which are not positive for the identity for MB get less attention here. For example the update of the MB before the TD was published (canada). And that is just a tiny example. While british press is feeding the public the image that RB is a bunch of frauds, they are always very quiet when there are questionmarks about the MB team.

  3. That’s a ludicrous amount of money for cars that are only a few seconds faster than F2 cars, which operate at a fraction of the cost. F1’s obsession with spending dozens upon dozens of millions on pointless ‘development’ leads to this situation where just two teams have basically won everything of note since 2009.

    1. Yes, poorer teams are still disadvantaged, but tbh if ferrari, who has plenty of resources to compete with red bull and merc can never beat both I don’t see how we can expect anyone else to do that.

  4. I could have sworn we just finished the 2022 season.

    1. No 2021/2 and next year will be 2021/3

    2. Companies House in the UK is still accepting self-assessment forms (the main way small companies submit taxes) for 2021/2022 and will do until January 31 2023, provided the taxes indicated are paid promptly. Larger companies (which all F1 teams in the UK are considered to be) are expected to provide their forms 12 months after the previous deadline, so an expense made on 31 December 2021 (the last date the FIA requires information about on the data it uses for the financial figures) might not have to be submitted to HMRC for quite a long time afterwards, depending on when in the year that company’s deadline was set.

  5. Itsmeagain (@)
    22nd December 2022, 9:23

    Another ‘feeding’ your main audience article.

  6. The real question now is how much Merc spent?

    1. That could be almost €360.000.000 their profit was €60.000.000 on a revenue of €420.000.000
      They spend almost €100.000.000 on wages

  7. RBR F1 Operation made 1.3 million profits out of 230 million operating costs….it is really hard to make money in F1. Apart from the marketing appeal, F1 is a dragging money thing.

    1. Deiter didn’t care how much his toys cost.

    2. Formerly for many of the attemptees, F1 was very good a place to loose a fortune.
      1.3M$ is not a very big money, but I agree, the self advertisement factor worths way more. Imo it would worth it to loose money for many of the manufacturers, in exchange of having a relatively successful F1 team for advertisement purposes. At the TV prime times ads cost a fortune, even tens or hundreds of millions are not very big money in that league, if we consider all the TVs all over the world. And obviously there are other platforms nowadays. And for example I have not seen too many TV ads yet, where the sole purpose was selling the depicted road going Ferrari.

      Additionally, there are many many businesses in the world where the ROI figures are this small. If they were big, everyone would be rich.

      And here, or in similar reports the engine and fuel R&D costs are likely still not included for most of the teams. As those are likely done by the engine and fuel manufacturers (often for self advertising purposes as well, not really caring whether the investment directly returns profit or not.) And you can be sure those are very far from cheap, even in the league of these numbers.

      I think the aero development handicap percentages will have their effect in the long run. Now, definitely the big and well off teams are having the infrastructure, and the distinct efficiency, and to beat that, the big ones will have to be restricted for multiple seasons imo. Sheer force or sheer numbers are not enough against efficiency and established outstanding infrastructure. And even if they were, the engine is still mainly designed and developed for the car of the primary team of the manufacturer.
      But, the laptime gap at qualifying between the top runners and the backmarkers was not really big at this season. I think this is a good thing. Although, the quality and the efficiency and all of the aforementioned showed itself when it came to the sustained race pace. The new aero formula was not to fix this, it was to fix the on track sight, and there were quite a nice amount of on track duels. The pace difference can be fixed by the long term effects of the cost cap and the earo development percentages.

      The BOP of other series was a bit like this, but the cars were BOPped race weekend after race weekend, while it is done season by season. I not fully agree with it, but it could be worse, as the BOP was a more direct hit on the on track performance.
      The cost cap effort is less direct. And having a less direct and obvious hit on the on track sight is good, because that is less artifical. Also the BOP of the WTCR was not really welcome by many fans, and even led to protests by some teams at ongoing race weekends. So that was something hard to handle, and eventually the WTCR fell apart, even if it was cheaper than its precedessor series. Imo most of the people can not take their beating image wise, and we are very far from a world where most of the problems are solved. Instead of it, it is just getting worse and worse.

      Instead of the whole effort, I would like still see an all inclusive cost cap, where even every third party R&D is included , even if the team have not directly paid for them. That would be a nice step towards a more honest world. And then “every” fan could decide if that price is ok, if they support fielding two cars in exchange of that.

      It will be interesting to see, if it will be the small teams who will occasionally tap into the very very good aero design-wise, because they can experiment much more. It would be interesting to occasionally see that. I would further simplify the aero, but I would be lenient here and there. And the where maybe would change season by season, or slightly less rapidly, but still rapidly, to provide some challenge. Those who don’t like it? They could advertise elsewhere :D But of course the world not works that way. I am already sure, that many of the manager types wish that if I only would have born with a cork in my mouth :D

  8. Does that count their payments to Masi?

  9. Fed up with f1 to many cheats you break the cap you loose surely

  10. All things considered it’s quite a bargain; pre-budget cap this would be lauded as an achievement and a target teams should strive toward. It would be a David v. Goliath take, “Red Bull wins with 2/3 budget of top spender.” However, facts are Red Bull exceeded the budget cap and regardless of how much/if any advantage was gained by the overspend it leaves a blemish on their win. There will always be a, “what if” question surrounding their achievements in 2021.

  11. The maths definitely doesn’t work – Red Bull somehow managed to spend £10 m more than in 2020 despite that year having a soft budget cap that was about £1.5 million less than 2021’s hard budget cap. That implies that Red Bull’s breach was between £6 million and £8 million than the just-under-£1.9 million quoted by the FIA (depending on how much expense went onto the performance payments that weren’t in the cap). That straddles the minor/major payment cut-off, although I had feared worse than this before the numbers were revealed.

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