The 2015 F1 season has been another disappointment for the formerly dominant Red Bull Racing team, with their drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo currently sitting seventh and eighth respectively in the standings, even if the team have still been splashing the cash over the last two years.
Red Bull Racing are currently trailing in the wake of the Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams teams and have been pushing for a more competitive package for 2016, so improvements should surely come before long considering their annual budget.
Indeed the team is said to be the first in F1 history to spend more than £200m in a single season, on the back of figures released in their latest accounts. Having won four consecutive championships from 2010 to 2013 they were beaten by Mercedes last year, finishing second despite their spending power.
The team have slipped further down the standings to fourth place in 2015, but have increased their budget to a record £203.6m in an attempt to return to winning ways. Red Bull Racing have dropped somewhat off the pace having had to remodel their car last year to accommodate the switch to environmentally-friendly 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid engines from the previous 2.4-litre V8s.
According to the Telegraph newspaper, last year the team spent £80.8m just on research and development, with a statement accompanying their accounts noting, “adapting to new technical regulations, in particular the adoption of a new power unit, were the most significant cost drivers.”
Staff salaries reached £62.9m, with the team’s number swelling by 19 members to 694 in total. The highest paid members of the team are of course the drivers, though the best rewarded director is team manager Christian Horner, who reportedly earns an annual salary of £2.6m.
Despite Red Bull’s slip from grace and even media talk of a split with Renault – as both parties strive for a more competitive race package – Horner has assured fans there is no chance of the drinks giant pulling out of F1. He commented, “Red Bull GmbH, confirmed to the directors that it has no plans or intentions that would materially affect the ordinary operations of the company within the next 12 months.”
Red Bull have the spending power to turn things around and speculation in recent months fuelled talk of a switch of manufacturer to Mercedes or Ferrari, from the French giant Renault. Their plans for 2016 are yet to be announced, but engine upgrades from Renault mean the partnership could continue next year.
Giving his opinion on Red Bull’s F1 spending and their quest for a return to full competitiveness, F1 commentator Ted Kravitz told foxsports.com.au recently, “This is about success leading to heightened expectations. After four years of winning the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships your expectations are that you’re going into every year, every championship, every race in a position to win it. And when the engine formula changes, the grim realisation that your engine partner hasn’t put enough time, money, manpower and brainpower into their supply to you — for which you are paying — makes you look at every avenue to resolve that situation.”
Which begs the next question, how much will Red Bull Racing’s team budget increase in 2016 and beyond?