F1 Winter Break
The cost of competing in F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Nov 2011   |  12:17 pm GMT  |  131 comments

The leading F1 teams are in the thick of an argument at the moment about how much money they should be allowed to spend every year to go racing, with Red Bull out on a limb, taking a different view from other FOTA members about the next phase of the Resource Restriction Agreement.

If it all goes wrong, as some predict, this could lead to a new arms race in F1 with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes able to spend more than McLaren (which no longer has Mercedes factory backing as it did in the last “Arms Race”) and far more than the midfield teams. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because everyone loses in that scenario.

Against this backdrop it seems a good opportunity to review some quotes which came to light during the preparation of a Financial Times Special Report on F1, which I helped produce last week. My colleague John Reed spoke with Jean Francois Caubet, who manages Renault’s F1 engine programme, and he spelled out the amount Renault used to spend on the sport and how that compares with what they outlay now, being just an engine supplier. He also confirms that Renault threatened to quit the sport completely this summer over the 2014 engine rules.

“We are a total cost around €120m,” said Caubet, explaining how much they spend on the existing engine programme. “The net cost – total cost minus sales – is €60m. For €60m you have a big exposure in the world”

This is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that
the costs are still high; Renault still spends €120 million a year even though the V8 engines are frozen from a development point of view. The company supplies 16 racing engines a year plus test engines to Red Bull, Lotus Renault and Team Lotus (soon to be renamed Caterham). Next year they will add in Williams to the roster.

This is a huge saving compared to the time when the French car maker ran its own team, which it sold at the end of 2009.

“In the past the total cost of the team was between €250-280m. (But after deducting) sponsorship and TV rights, net cost about €180m.”

In other words Renault is now spending a third of the amount it spent to run its own team in 2009. It has won the world championship for the last two years with Red Bull Racing. This arrangement seems to be working well.

“We have a five-year deal with Red Bull. In the past it was difficult to have a long-term strategy, because the strategy was linked to results. 
For a carmaker, you can’t explain what’s your budget in 5 years on a team,” added Caubet.

“Also we have a long-term strategy on advertising – Renault will do more advertising, more pr and more communications.

“When you control the team, you must win. And if you don’t win, the cost is so high. If you have a crisis, the sponsorship stops like BMW, Toyota, Honda. Because you are a carmaker, you need to win. If you don’t, the board asks the question.”

Caubet also confirms that Renault threatened to pull out of F1 altogether if the new generation 2014 engine wasn’t introduced, “We pushed the FIA to conclude on new regulation – concluded in June. Either the new regulation is clear and we will stay in F1 or we keep the same engine and Renault will stop,” he said. 

The 2014 engine is very important to Renault because it wants to scale down road car engines and the push is towards turbo hybrids, which is what the F1 engines will be. Just as Renault pioneered turbo engines in F1 and then took them to road cars, now turbo hybrids will tie F1 to the consumer market.

“It will be downsized, fuel efficiency, and a big part on the electric side.” he said. “We think in 2015-20, probably 80% of all the engines in the world will be downsized, probably turbo, and with hybrid or electric power. 

“We took the decision to stay in F1 only if the new engine was relevant and the new regulation was relevant.
 We now start the race with 170kg of fuel. In 2014 we will start the race with 130kg – nearly 35% less. Each year we are pushing to decrease the fuel consumption by 5%. It’s difficult to reach this goal.

“Today the engine is more of a commodity; in three years, it will be the key thing that makes you win or lose the race.”

It will be fascinating in 2014 when engines become performance differentiators again, something they have not been since the V8 engines were frozen.

You can read the Financial Time F1 report HERE

The JA on F1 2011 limited edition collectors’ review of the year “Vettel steals the show” is now ready to pre-order. A large format 240 page paperback, it comes out on December 12th, costs £9-99 plus postage and can be sent anywhere in the world. All copies bought through this site are personally signed by James Allen.

To order your copy, click HERE

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Hi James,

What do you mean by Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes being able to spend more than McLaren? Surely McLaren won't let that happen?


Time for Mclaren to reunite with Honda, just in time for the new engine regulations. Mclaren, Honda V6, red and white livery. Power of dreams indeed.


Red and White? As much as I loved the red and white in the past....I wouldnt want the Mclaren to change. The current livery is heads and shoulders better looking than any other car on the grid.

Simply put the current look of Mclaren is just stunning to look at! No change to that please!


I think because they have to spend some of their budget simply buying the engines from Mercedes as opposed to being a factory backed team who receives engines as part of the deal? Im not 100% savvy on the RRA but I think the sponsorships and freebies don't count against your "budget". So if Mclaren is sinking part of their budget towards engines and support from Mercedes, they have a smaller pot to draw from for the rest of their operation. They may not want to let this happen, but they may be in the minority and to be honest Mclaren seems to play the part of self righteous victim far too often for my tastes, but thats my own opinion, Im a Redbull/Seb fan.


McLaren get free engines from Mercedes until at least 2015.



I think that "engine partner" may well involve some cost.

I would also see Merc rescinding the deal on the basis that the rules have now changed for 2014 onwards.

However it is logical that Merc need some volume of production to bring costs down so a new deal could be possible with more than one other team, this also helps testing.


Current RRA only restricts number of employees the factory can have.


That's interesting. But that assumes that Red Bull get their Renault engines for free. McLaren generate an awful lot of income from their clever use of sponsorship. Maybe they can use that to entice a new engine manufacture to the fold for the new formula in 2014. If not, it would seem a death-knell is sounding for all teams which are engine customers? Surely that cannot be fair. Teams such as McLaren, Williams, etc have a long history of success in F1. It would be a shame if that was to end.


Haven't there been rumors about McL building their own F1 engines? Surely that will sink them even deeper in


You genuinely believe that McLaren has the same access to funds that Mercedes, Ferrari/Fiat and Red Bull have?


I thought they had access to one of the Middle East sovereign wealth funds? Probably a better bet than Italy (assuming no more revolutions etc!)


I believe the implication is that Renault will back Red Bull, Ferrari -> Ferrari and Merc -> Merc GP, NOT McLaren. As in recent times there has been no Merc based F1 team. McLaren may still have Merc engines, but Merc GP will be the "factory" team so first dibs on the good\new stuff.


Thanks. I actually posted this earlier before clarification in the parentheses was added by James Allen (which no longer has Mercedes factory backing as it did in the last “Arms Race”)


He means they are bigger companies and will have far more money to throw at their race teams than McLaren would.


McLaren don't make anywhere near the profits of these three; so the money just isn't there.


McLaren are a Race team who have only recently branched out into making road cars as an integral part of their business.(the F1 was a one of to show they could do it and the McLaren Mercedes SLR was built by Mercedes with Mclaren input). As a result almost all their income is derived from sponsorship, commercial deals and merchandising relating to their racing teams. Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all have the backing of companies who make 100's of millions if not billions from other areas. Red Bull, energy drinks obviously, Mercedes make a shed load from cars trucks and financing. And Ferrari probably the best known high end car maker on the planet make so much from merchandise it would make your eyes water. McLaren just cant match the income.


Surely McLaren must receive a significant amount of income from the patents they own, which I assume are used in other fields besides F1.


Will be a while before they recoup cap costs on road cars and hit profit


McLaren are the only two teams that should be classed as a league apart. Ferrari for the overall exposure they bring and the tradition, McLaren because they have none of that but have created a business model - out of racing, not soft drinks - that has the potential to disrupt that.

As much as McLaren are trying to get into the corporate world with their sports cars, for now, they are the truest of the racing teams. Rule them out of contending and you simply have a corporate-chimp race.


The advantage Red Bull, Ferrari & Mercedes have is that their business is more diverse than McLaren. McLaren are essentially a F1 team which produces a few top end sports car(however they are doing their best to change this)So they have less depth in resources to dip into, if it came to crazy spending. It would be very difficult for the rest of the teams also.

Red Bull, Ferrari & Mercedes gain a lot from their whole brand exposure for the rest of their businesses, so would be willing to spend more to keep up this exposure. How many more cans of Red Bull have been sold over the last few year due to the prominance of the race team?


There's only so much red bull that one can consume from this team!

I prefer Lucozade...there's far more fizz and from the team they are supporting!


McLaren are a racing team with limited resources. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull (Renault) are all essentially works teams for huge global companies. Compared to McLaren their resources are huge. Certainly, McLaren would need to sell considerably more road cars to have the kind of finances the others have access to.


Mclaren have projects outside of F1, including producing road cars.


Ferrari are also majority owned by the Italian government, and they're in the deep doo-doo, so I wouldn't be too optimistic about their ability to enter an arms race!


Parent company fiat is huge


And, what's McLaren going to do about it. Ferrari can sell a few more 458's, Mercedes a few more C200K's and RedBull can sell case loads more cans of their Juice (Just another STupid Drinks Company). What's McLaren gonna do, ask Dennis and Whitmarsh to give up their pensions and agree to reduced salaries, somehow I don't see Mumtalakat writing a blank cheque, maybe the will crank up the organ and make Lewis and Button dance even more, maybe make em jump through HOOPS as well (Organ grinder Metaphor). McLaren dont have access to excessive cash reserves anymore and they know it which is why the RRA means more to them than it does to say RedBull, Ferrai and Mercedes. (MIND you I love this team to bits, McLaren Forever) SIMPLE English their Business Model revolves heavily around their Racing Team at the moment, their other concerns are coming around very well but they are all in their infancy at the moment.


Just to tell you McLaren do other things outside F1, for one they now produce cars, in fact they have been producing road cars in Woking since before 2003. They have a very successful applied technologies division. Which is due to have its own separate facility built in the next few years. They produce a lot of systems for the motor racing industry worldwide. They will produce the next injection fuel system for US spec racing series next year.


As I have said beofre, let us all hope that RBR does not force FOTA to implode because of it's own short-sightedness. You can be sure that BE will be in the background doing everything he can towards this exact aim (as he has shown many times in the past with Ferrari). RBR will not be on top of the world forever and there will come a time when they are likly to benefit from a solid RRA.

Ferrari's extra money from CVC has minimal on track benefit so long as the RRA is in place (it just minimises the core business' risk to the F1 outley). However that will change without an RRA.


Your anti RBR and Bernie posts are now very predictable.

It is always their fault, isn't it.


Mod I really hope you don't feel the need to alter this post as this really needs saying. This sort of comment is ridiculous - 'Yawn' do you actually read watch/read the news, this blog or watch F1? This is not an opinion I have just made up! Why do you not understand that!


Phil, to save you time of actually reading the posts on this site:

My most recent comment about BE:

"BE: Saint or sinner? There’s a bit of both in there. I for one, having spent years decrying his business practices, may shed a tiny tear when he retires in the privacy of my living room – but I would not tell anyone about it! That sums up BE for many people in my opinion."

My most recent post about Hamilton:

"Not a rant as such But Hamilton visiting the RBR motorhome in Montreal was a ‘misjudgement’ as Whitmarsh commented at the time. This to me is one of the least thought through and potentially painfull, for all involved, protests a driver has made agianst their own team in recent memory.

What must the average guys back at the factory have thought, let alone team sponsors and principals. Totally irresponsible and more than a little petulant."


No, he's not. These opinoons are widely reported and nothing 'falls off my keybord', nothing I can do if you do not like the fact.

Nowhere have I said they are out to destroy the sport. Try posting an opinion rather than a sound-bite and you might be taken seriously. It's easy to tap out a quick barb like this but much more challenging to type out an opinion that actually tries to make a point or take a stance.


No, he's right.

Down with RBR and BE and Vettel, they're out to destroy the sport. Up with Lewis and McLaren. That's all that ever seems to fall off your keyboard.


What is Red Bulls position James that puts them "out on a limb"?


Reb Bull F1 team is purely an advertising medium for the drink company. They also own various other sporting teams, not least a football team in their home town, for which they basically invented a new team and built a huge stadium. The old team (who did not want to be owned by RB) still exists and is not terribly happy.

Red Bull do this brilliantly in terms of effectiveness of brand image, but they like to own teams rather than just sponsor them.

If F1 ceases to be effective for them or becomes publicly tarnished, as is possible with Bahrain or Bernigate then they may just pack up and leave F1. However I believe they now have a positive overall income from F1 so that may keep them in, not that they really need the money.


Surely the top team managers just create excuses to have meetings such as these inorder to pick up bonuses for attending for I can't possibly imagine them justifying re-introducing the arms race, all this while the Eurocrisis is still raging around us.

The last things the fans need are higher ticket prices & isn't it funny that it's the fans that indirectly fund the F1 teams & pay the drivers salaries.

Something not quite right with that picture.

No, this can't be true, am sure these fat cats will just pick up their commissions & agree to let sense prevail and hey, what's with Mclaren, I was under the impression that they're one of the richest F1 teams.

Ha, I now see Renault an ace up their sleeve that they keeping hidden till 2014, am really hoping (for the good of the sport) Newey & Vettel would have left Red Bull by then for oh no, we can't stand another 2011 kind of season all over again


Judging by the amount of pay-drivers currently doing the young drivers test it doesn't surprise me that the costs are under discussion again. If that trend continues to happen I fear that the top teams will never be able to get caught and the lower tier teams will just drop further back. Not good for the sport.


I think it just means that they've got more money so if the RRA falls over they'll be spending it to out develop everyone else.

Still, it doesn't mean they'll be able to buy their way to race wins. Look at Honda, Toyota and BMW for example, all 3 spent fortunes developing their way to the back.

Also, I don't see Red Bull hanging around forever. F1 is a game of diminishing returns in terms of marketing and the outlay to compete stacks up less and less favourably when brand exposure levels reach saturation point. Value for money then falls through the floor in the eyes of the board and the team usually goes up for sale. Likewise, if Newey retires and Red Bull spend a couple of seasons off the pace, again they'll pull the plug.

As far as Mercedes Benz is concerned, if they don't turn it around next season I think the board will be asking some very tough questions. F1 books are very hard to balance when you're not winning!

I think the RRA is essential on a number of levels. It keeps the costs within sight for all teams on the grid more or less but more than anything it keeps F1 relevant. Everywhere you look there are cut backs. People the world over are having to find ways of continuing life with less and less money. F1 should be finding ways of doing what they do with less money, less resources, less waste, less polution etc. It is a new era of creativity and with it should come a new breed of engineer who embraces the challenges of the modern world and passes the benefit of their work on to the world at large. There is huge scope for F1 to influence everything from recycling to car production and I hope this occurs to them when they are bickering in the FOTA chambers about whether or not they should be spending 2 or 3 hundred million $ on aero bits and bobs that most people couldn't care less about.

Board room F1 doesn't work.


Mclaren all the way. Passionate Fan. But RedBull does so much for F1. I hate to see posts like the Board of RedBull will pull the plug. There's no board it's Dieter all the way, this man should be a light to all sports fanatics, you name the sport his company is most probably involved sometimes on more than one level. Were u talking this much when Mateschitz was funding 2 teams (1 in the Midfield and 1 at the back). First race win came from the BackMarker team. Which brand Develops Drivers more than RedBull is it Ferrari (no) is it the Beloved McLaren (nope), could it be Mercedes (still no). Wow, I'm sorry but RedBull does so much for the sport, just appreciate what the Drinks company is doing for this Sport. For sure they are spending because they want to keep winning, and who wouldn't, Ferrari & Mclaren spend just trying to win, Mercedes spend tons just to look at a podium maybe hoping for some champagne one day. (The Only place I really want redBull to reform is to hire someone to run Vettel closer than Webber, maybe Kimi or another driver just to try curb the trouncing currently being dished out by the Wunderkind, I don't blame Vettel but From the Couch I'm sick and tired of having to explain to My Flatmates why we need to continue watching the race and why It's still interesting, never before have I have fallen asleep so many times during a race than this season.)


Ferrari must cringe at the thought of this new engine specification.

Not sure a 1.5 litre 4 pot and a battery is the type of sales headline you want to run with a £150,000 Italian sports car.

Isn't engine development one of the most expensive areas of F1 R&D - there must be some room in the regulations to take into account the cost of this and also if Renault makes Red Bulls engine but Ferrari have to make their own how does this work on the budgets?


That isn't the new engine specification though.


I thought McLaren had wealthy backers from Bahrain? They also have one of the most advanced factories which the RRA restricts them from being able to use to its full potential (the same with Williams who have two wind tunnels but can only use one) surely the RRA isn't just about money but also about use of existing infrastructure and from that point of view McLaren are one of the best teams set up to make the most if the RRA was lifted.


Ben, Basically mcLaren had access to immense funds while married to Mercedes, but they don't anymore. They are still wealthy but their resources are slightly more limited now. They might have impressive facilities and a super advanced Factory, diversifying their commercial interests, but I beleve that the current situation where they are under-utilising their current resources (RAce Team) actually suits them better off than if the flood gates were to be open once again. Every time FOTA meets I can just see Martin Whitmarsh clutching the RRA like Golom and the Ring. (The precious). Poor Lewis, wants less PR days, little kid doesn't understand thats how they make money so they can pay him, his Santander Gigs pay for all the body work that he keeps breaking. Lewis when the Organ Grinder starts playing his music shut up and dance.


I am sorry, I am not quite sure what point you are trying to make; [mod]

I am fully aware that McLaren used to be partnered with Mercedes, and that deal came to an end when Mercedes launched their own team. That was clearly referenced in the article and I do not need you to reiterate it in such a patronising manner.

The question I was asking was with regard to the fact that (as Bec has added in her above comment) the Bahrain Government owns 42% of McLaren. Now, as it is the Government rather than private investors that would answer my question, as a Government is unlikely to throw tens of millions of dollars in a money war.

However, it should be pointed out, one of Mercedes' justifications for buying Brawn GP was that it would operate at reduced costs. Given how critical the board was at the move, I cannot see them consenting to a spending war and would sooner drop the F1 operation.

Finally, my point of bringing up McLaren's infrastructure they have already invested in was to point out that if the RRA is lifted and McLaren can use their facilities to their full potential, because they already have the equipment and machinery there they can achieve a lot more per dollar of investment. Either another team has to invest the money in building the facilities McLaren has or they have to spend a lot more money to achieve the same results.


I must disagree with you Ben, I think that a Government would be more likely to spend cash than Private Investors if another Spending War were declared.


Forgive for the patronising Ben.

I look at it this way, Ferrari go to great lengths to keep their operations at Marranello as low key as possible. (Compare the launches of a new car between Ferrari and McLaren) .I don't think that they are that far behind McLaren if at all in terms of facilities, the same goes for RedBull. But I do think that Mercedes are not as advanced. Ferrari and Mercedes along with RedBull have access to cash reserves that would probably allow them to catch and surpass McLaren easily, whereas McLaren would have to maximise every dollar extremely as their kitty isn't as deep. As for the Bahrain connection, I beleve that side of the ownership would find it hard to justify pouring more money into a spending war without a direct link to either increased sales of cars/juice from winning Grands Prix. As a result of this I think that if you look at the teams holistically McLaren have more to lose if the RRA is lifted.

On the point of Mercedes Buying brawn to operate at a lower cost, i think that was just lip service for the media. We don't know what happens behind closed doors, as far as I'm aware Mercedes wanted control of McLaren for a long time, Dennis wouldn't budge. Among many things then came SPyGate and then MP4-12C, I don't think that we know all the real reasons for the divorce but I don't buy that LIne of lower running costs being the motivator, I think it was just one of those where they said, hey look at that we are also spending less money at the same time now isn't that nice.


Well, Ferrari has 2 test tracks, Fiorano and Mugello which they can't use AT ALL currently. So regarding Mclaren and Williams, I don't feel that sorry for them.

Mind you, watching Williams the last few years, I'd say they're not using either wind-tunnel at all..


I am not sure how you can construed my comments to be some anti Ferrari/Pro Williams and McLaren statement, or even how you think I was trying to stir up pity for them. I was querying why McLaren would not be able to keep up with Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull in a development race.

Plus, testing is not part of the RRA, it is outlawed by the FIA, so even if the RRA falls through Ferrari wil not be able to use their test tracks.


If Fiat should hit the skids in a deep recession as we have seen with other large car manaufacturers, I suspect Ferrrari might see its resources cut under such a scenario.


Ben, i felt your comments were speaking of how Mclaren with this advanced factory and Williams with their 2 windtunnels couldn't use them to their full potential.

I mentioned Ferrari as I am a fan. The Fiorano facility was used by Ferrari since 1972, Mugello since the late 90's. Ferrari chose to invest in testing facilities as well as state of the art facilities in Maranello, including 2 wind tunnels IIRC.

Ferrari, also, can't use all the facilities they have at their disposal.

Yes, testing is outlawed by the FIA, and there has been some talk about lifting this partially, but I suspect some of the ban was brought about because Ferrari were testing practically all the time during the Schumacher era.

Whats sometimes forgotten is that during 2002 to 2006, Ferrari were the only front runners for Bridgestone, who subsequently paid for all of Ferraris testing.

I believe it's naive to think all decisions in motorsport are taken because of economic climates etc.

Honda, Toyota and BMW used the recession to get out of F1, but ultimately they all proved unsuccessful and couldn't keep "making up the numbers".

Toyota, in fact had said in previous years that the annual expenditure on F1 was minimal against the exposure they got from the sport. For the same amount of TV, their advertising would have been immeasurably more.

Look at Infiniti this year on the Red Bull, Ghosn (Renault/Nissan boss) has said it will increase their profile worldwide.

Regarding Mercedes and Ferrari out-spending everybody if the RRA is lifted, Mercedes stated when they bought the Brawn team, the reason they did was because of the RRA, they have no desire to spend 100's of millions


The McLaren team is 42% owned by the Bahrain government.


Is this one of the reason McLaren are ramping up commercial deals (I think I read £1billion target) in order to keep up?


They certainly have their fingers in many different pies, to get to that target!



It's the reason they are so keen on controlling costs


Ferrari and Mercedes will be top of the list of spending if no RRA is in place and engine competition comes back as they have to make the car and engine as one - and maybe McLaren if they go down that route to accompany their road car business as per the other two.

As for RedBull, if they stop coming in the top 2-3 teams and start loosing out on championship winnings, with Toro Rosso being a financial drain as well, I dont see how RB can plough money in to the same level as the other top names.

Also, if things dont change it would probably mean the end of teams like Williams.

Still - all speculation!


To me it doesn't look like Mercedes are willing to empty the bank for F1. I believe the team currently has a smaller budget than the big 3. Not sure why they would want to start spending more.


Dint Mercedes GP say that they operate only on the sponsorship money?


James could you fill us in on roughly what you beleive the teams earn from the tv rights distribution. We all understand Ferrari get and extra peice of the pie but could you put some rough figures to it!

Also could you give us an idea of what the teams might (again roughly) earn in sponsorship. McLaren for example seem to have some strong brands that have advertised through them for many years now!

As this article suggests McLaren might fall behind Ferrari Redbull and Mercedes in a spending war it would be good for the fans to understand an insiders guess of what those budgets are they have avaliable to spend.

Interesting to understand what Renault financial figures were and are. Thanks James



The teams get 50% of everything, not just the TV money, well they actually share 47.5%, because Ferrari get 2.5% before any sharing takes place.

The money is then divided into 2 parts, the 1st is the 'historical importance' of each team, and the 2nd the actual race results.

Teams 11 and 12 get a fixed amount, then the money is split again, with for example the 10th place team getting 4% of that share.

2011 = US$769.7 million in prize money


I am not clear on one aspect of this RRA, James. How is engine cost apportioned? The teams which buy in their engine supply obviously have to pay for it, apparently about €20m each team from your figures. Does this form part of the allowed expenditure and if so, what of the teams who build their own, Mercedes, Ferrari?

I imagine that they have to deal with this by internal accounting of some sort, each department charging the F1 team the going rate, but it certainly offers a lot of opportunity for dodging the rules of the RRA and makes Red Bull's fears on these grounds understandable. You can see how difficult it will be to police.

Your final point about engines once again becoming performance differentiators would be very welcome if it happens, but I have a horrible suspicion that there will be the usual restrictive rules to prevent performance increase. I hope I'm wrong, because we need to encourage development if we are to get the best out of radical new power trains.


I don't understand how engines can become differentiators again unless testing and development restrictions are relaxed.

As I've said before I'd love to see a full swing from aero to drive train development in F1 for the next 10-years or so. The world needs a kick up the backside in terms of real breakthroughs in non fossil-fuel reliant transport.

Gamal Liranzo Tavarez

Hi James

How much is a Renault Formula 1 Engine?


More than I can afford!


Any point of contention,in this case the Resource Restriction Agreement, between the FOTA members must certainly be viewed positively by one B. Ecclestone, considering that the commercial rights renegotiation looms near.

It would seem like an ideal time for FOTA to be closing ranks...not some other alternative.


As I have said many times here, F-1 is about powerful engines, but today it has translated into efficiency and durability. Boring. In order to keep costs down the essential development part of this so called sport is freezed. Engine technology are among the tiny bits that end up in our road cars, not aerodynamics, DRS or blown diffusers. I would love to see the RRA broken and then we could see, again, the money war. No matter what they do, HRT and Virgin will always be at the back. Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes (road car builders) belong to the front. Let's see how the horned cow copes with it.


Last year Renault had a total brand exposure (AVE) of US$69,290,891.

Even with the addition of Williams next year this is likely to shrink slightly, with the loss of much of the UK FTA broadcasts, the loss to Renault has been estimated at US$5.9 million.


Strange that this comes up just as the boss of MotoGP lambasts the current state of his championship, the prohibitive cost of competing there, the dwindling number of competitive teams and seemed to criticise the big manufacturers for this state of affairs...

It appears that F1 wants to gradually return to big spending with restrictions on testing and the like being wound back. The problem with accounting-based restrictions is that there will always be ways around them but that is surely no reason just to give up? Perhaps teams should be all forced to generate a profit at the year's end so that they are self-financing...


Yer exactly my thought.

Surely McLaren has a lot of money? I mean just look at their state-of-the-art McLaren tech centre! Now that Ron has opened up a road car division, their future looks more stable than ever, no?


Capital Expenditure Krisie, MP4-12C didnt fall out of a tree. It's going to be years before they realise a good return on that investment. And I think everyone would rather have that whenever Road Car Division does start turning a profit, that money will be going into Dennis, TAG & the Shareholders kitty, not into a New WIng, or a trick Diffuser. Same as 599 profits hopefully not going towards outspending Mateschitz. (At the Moment yes Krisie The fue does LOOK stable (emphasise on the word LOOK) but it isn't there just yet.) McLaren should really have followed on from the F1 roadCar project and they would BE in a stable position right NOW.


Its interesting how some years the off season begans to ramp up to be more interesting than the racing was.


Hi James,

Not that I doubt you, but why do you believe McLaren have less to spend than say Ferrari or Red Bull for that matter? I think McLaren can tap into a lot of additional funds if it ever needed to and it has probably still the best sponsorship revenue of any team.

I agree with you on Mercedes but with Red Bull there are not unlimited funds I don't think. Mr Maschnitzel can't (but actually probably won't) spend say double what he does now (and pick up the tab for Torro rosso too!). He is a business man and if you know that Red Bull has a turnover of some £3bn it is actually not that much and is he really prepared to pay more than 10% on F1 marketing alone?? No way I would say based on that.

I think in fact that Red Bull will try and get out on a high and sell at some point soon and move on to something new once they have racked up a couple more tittles. Maybe sell back to Renault some Qatari prince?

Ferrari it appears to me are in a difficult spot. I think their preference deal on TV money is going to be eroded somewhat with the next Concorde agreement and its parent company is in deep trouble. So I can't see them easily fork out an additional $100m per year or so in an arms race, but hard to say perhaps with unclear Angelli & Arab structures behind Ferrari/Fiat.

Like I say, Mercedes are as it stands probably financially in the best place with its parent company turning over some £90bn a year!

So in summary, if there is an arms race it will be between Mercedes and yet unknown other party (read Qatar) by my calculations. Having said that don't Qatari own a bit of Merc too! Darn its a forgone conclusion...


P.S. any bets on Shumi hanging round for that to sort out his performance issues?


Ferrari run independently of FIAT. FIAT owns a majority stake but that is it. FIAT last financial results also show that their revenue, operating income and profit was up. Ferrari have a lot of income especially from Philip Morris.


I remember an article a few years back regarding sponsorship and revenues of the teams.

Ferrari had an annual sponsorship income of $300,000,000 and no available space on their cars, their merchandise sales dominated the F1 market, IIRC about 80% of all income against the other teams.

Even today, Philip Morris has signed into Ferrari for a number of years, and yet their name or product isn't in evidence on the cars at all.

I doubt Ferrari will struggle. Ultimately, Ferrari is recognised as a racing brand, the board would always back the team. Mercedes and other manufacturers have to convince their boards of the need to compete in F1. Look at Honda, Toyota and BMW recently.

Fiat currently is in resurgence, they have taken on Chrysler/ Jeep and Dodge and looking to expand.


can't help wondering why BMW missed this trick.

They threw in the towel and let fiat, merc and renault sail on


It is easy enough to understand. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have more money then McLaren. They have got massive independent incomes outsides Formula One. McLaren use to when Mercedes was pumping money into them. They do not now.


McLaren have the most stable sponsorship stream of any team on the grid, not to mention strong investment outside F1. Yeah they don't have Mercedes cash reserves but look how well its working out for Mercedes. F1 ain't all about cash, its what you do with it that counts.



Ferrari have the most "stable" sponsership stream in F1. The entire advertsing space on their cars in taken up. Ferrari's deal with Philip Morris is the biggest sponsership deal in F1 and probably in the world. It is estmated to be worth over $1 billion. If you go to the official Ferrari web-site it still has Phlip Morris as one the offical sponsers.

You are right that F1 is not about cash. Hence the reason why from 1999 to 2008 Ferrari won the same number of Constructors titles as McLaren have in their history, ironically enough when there was no RRA.

Many on here in defence of McLaren seems to ill-informed or just plain ignorant.



Why should I be proud about Ferrari are able to seek money from tobacco sponsership? Stop yor presumptious nonsense. I was stating the facts. The second paragraph was irony at your "F1 is not about cash" remark. It is not hard to understand. The more money a team has the more resources at it's disposal. That means better results.

@C B Smith

Care to name those successful businesses? The only truely successful businesses in Formula One Teams are Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.

Your partisan nonsense is not even worth a proper reply to be honest since no one can properly reason with you with your British tinted shades on. Maybe James Allen is also ill-informed since he did say McLaren could not keep up with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red bull without RRA?


Ill informed? It seems the greatest ignorance comes from those who are passing negative comments about the team......know very little about McLaren's other very successful businesses.

I doubt McLaren have the same financial strength as Ferrari but F1 is no longer about one team that races with red cars....other teams have a long proud history in this sport.


Well you should be proud Ferrari are able to seek so much money from a Tobacco company. Something which is clearly illegal but somehow acceptable in F1. The second paragraph you should be proud of. not quite sure why you wrote it though, because all you proved was the opposite of what i said. Many on here attacking McLaren seems too ill-informed or just plain ignorant a point you just clearly proved.


It will possibly be true if Mercedes has decided to separate from Mclaren....about others FERRARI is & will be the biggest spender as always..


Good read! Like the bit about the 2014 engine rules and how it may give the engine a bigger part in the success of a team. Wes hall see if it comes to be true. If it can be properly and equally Impossed, I feel fixing a spending ceiling, is the right way to help the sport from becoming a 3-4 teams serie, each fielding 3-5 cars. As it is with the present spending rules, teams might be far apart in performance, from the top to the least performant team, but imaging what that gap would be if the richer teams could spend as much as they would feel is needed. I don't even know what the limit that was set is, but it did not seem to have handicapped teams in producing Ever faster cars. How much is that limit? Marc


But what about the rest of the teams? How will they manage to survive in a free for all? They get the least of the Money Pot - (arguably the teams that need the most get least, the rich teams getting the most) - and need to put more into R&D! F1 need these teams!


With all the talk of McLaren being the poor underdogs without the huge commercial enterprise backing them up, I hear no mention of Vodafone. When anyone in the team talks it's always "Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes" and Vodafone is an enormous global enterprise. Also, I think I heard that McLaren supply the standard ECU to the rest of the teams. If this is correct, surely that represents an additional revenue stream.


Linked with Vodafone, Glaxosmith and the Bahrain Royal family. Hardly the bed fellows of a poor underdog.


They do, primarily because it allows the FIA to control electronic systems such as traction control etc which some teams where using in subtle ways against the rules.

These electronic black boxes are provided to the teams, but they are not consumables like tyres, so would not wear out.

I wouldn't believe the FIA would have sanctioned their production by Mclaren, if they were going to be a cost item anyway.


I REALLY hope that engines become important again in 2014 but I thought there will be another engine freeze and all and it will be just like now?


Hi James,

Toyota are clearly the leader in developing hybrid road cars. Do you think they possess some new technologies which can be integrated into F1 at 2014 new engine formula? Thanks!


Toyota will also be taking part in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, showcasing a hybrid LMP1 co-driven by former Benetton, McLaren and Williams F1 driver Alex Wurz.


No Toyota are not interested in F1 any more. They are interested in FIA Formula E championship, though - for EVs


James, how do you and other insiders assess McLaren's capabilities of building their own 2014 engine? That is part of their plan right, to come with an own McLaren engine? Or did I miss something?

How are they planning to build that engine? Is it true that they took over BMW's former HP engine capability?



One hears that, but the capital cost would be huge. They have a deal on road engines with Ricardo, in any case. Not in house


now here is an interesting rumour: http://www.f1reports.com/f1/article/13458/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

McLaren-Honda in 2014?? Was Ron spotted with anyone from Honda?


I am wondering whether you are going to write about it, James.

HAMILTON vs BUTTON - How Witmarsh is playing it?

I am not a McLaren fan and I do not have any preference (Hamilton or Button), but I really-really started thinking that Button is becoming the golden boy for Witmarsh. Probably he deserves it, probably he has done something people did not expect him to do. Probably Hamilton is no longer a motivation and inspiration to many people and his life style far from what McLaren wanted him to be to lead the team.

I think....Button is taking the lead at McLaren and it will not be easy for Hamilton to come back.


This would be a story I would read with a great deal of inetrest - an insider's view on what seems to be so obvious so so many fans...


Yes I am to be the new number 1 McLaren driver for 2012. That boy Lewis just doesn't fit the Mclaren Image anymore.


Fascinating article again James. How does Williams factor into this future with their possibility of KERS licensing, and public ownership of shares?


I am sure the drivers would love to see the end of the RRA... Who can forget Schuey pulling down $75mil a year! His days with that kind of packet are done, but I am sure Seb, Hamilton, Button, and Alonso would surely love to return of the old days.


I don't remember the exact figures, and even then they used to be "informed" journalists for Autosport and such, but in 1996 he was paid $25,000,000 and maybe by 2006 he was earning $30,000,000 from Ferrari etc.

Any amount above this, let's say the $50 million to get to $75 million would have been his hugely successful merchandising business which was masterminded by Willy Webber, his manager.

From the vague sources I have read, Alonso is on a $30 million retainer with Ferrari currently


If my memory serves me correctly, most of Schuey's 35 mil salary came from Philip Morris and the rest from Ferrari. And yes, his merchandising was a huge boost!!!!! Alonso is overpaid in comparison with his delivery, so far, of victories and WCs. As great as Alonso is, his inability to amasss a 'dream team' like Schuey did will always be that roadblock


All I can say is... There will never be A Michael Schumacher... That persistent determination, that ability to take the car beyond its engineering capabilities, that ability to build the team around him, that brutal uncompromising execution... He is definitely was way underpaid at Ferrari or any other team he would've been at his helm... Even at his age when his generation of drivers have become 'Armchair Experts' he is still teaching 'propaganda stars' a thing or two.

He is a legend and must be honored in that very manner 🙂


Eric Alonso is not overpaid, I beleve that he is currently the best Driver on the Grid, in my view certainly not the Fastest, but certainly the craftiest, and the best all round. Massa struggles to 5th Race after race (2008 Championship contender) while Fernando hurles that 150th to podium contention and sometimes race wins. Alonso's inability to amass a DreamTeam, comeon you can't judge him on that, Ferrari are lucky to have him and in my opinion they aren't paying him enough.


Drivers salary are not part of the RRA.


McLaren are working on their own engine, which is first in the road, and then a few years later will find its way into the F1 team. Like a lot of other parts of this group they could also make then for other teams.

Ferrari been part of Fiat, and if you look at the limited figures on Ferrari, it is only just breaking even, so they need support from their parent company. As for Red Bull, what they spend on racing, all their teams, not just F1 they are currently getting a good return on capital spend, (Brand awareness) but there overall marketing budget is small in % terms of revenue as say compared to Coke Cola. The big daddy of the sugar drink world.

McLaren are extremely good at getting in AAA sponsors, plus it helps to be wining or there about at each race, so I think they will do OK, in the short term and long term. I would worry more about Williams, as the third team that we need on the grid.

One wonders, that after a while Red Bull reaches a certain market share in all there targeted countries, but F1 cost keep on increasing, would they stay in or sell out. So far there isn’t any spin off’s from there racing team in the same format as what we see at McLaren and Williams.


Xysion made a valid point on an earlier post!

Ferrari hasn't needed support from the parent company for over 15 years.

Do you seriously believe that Ferrari who have Marlboro as a silent partner, pumping millions in every year, the TV money and the extra amount that Bernie arranged for them, their merchandising sales that dwarf everything else in F1 and then on top of this the road car division that sells everything they produce, they most certainly aren't breaking even.

A few years ago when Fiat was having financial problems, there was talk of selling Ferrari which would clear all their debts, they didn't and have turned profitability around for the parent company but don't underestimate just what Ferrari is actually worth.

Regarding Mclaren and AAA sponsors, you may not realise for example, Ferrari had Vodafone sponsorship and told them that for the following season, 2006 I believe, that there was no space on the Ferrari because Marlboro was paying for it all. Ferrari turned away a $80,000,000 sponsorship deal.

Vodafone may have moved to Mclaren but they don't pay that sum for title sponsorship.


Hate to break it to you kid but Vodafone dropped Ferrari not the other way round. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/SPORT/12/14/vodafone.sponsorship/

They saw better marketing opportunities with McLaren and were increasing frustrated with Ferrari performance and their treatment of the sponsor. You serious think Ferrari turned to a major sponsor and said bye bye.


The word was Vodafone wanted to be Title Sponsor and Ferrari was not willing accept that. That is why they parted ways. Its not coz' Ferrari wasn't winning and Mclaren was all conquering. As a matter of fact Ferrari shamed Mclaren in year very year Vodafone became Mclaren's Title Sponsor by Kimi winning the World Championship. And since, Mclaren won just single world championship since it became a Title Sponsor of Mclaren. That is by no means can be categorised as Feat Extraordinaire 🙂


The Marlboro money has been declining over the years. At one time Shell actually paid more than Marlboro. Yes Bernie keeps them very happy with extra funds, but they are the top payers in salaries for their team as a whole, not just the drivers across the grid.

There car division needs the support for Fiat and in the past, they have had development grants from the Italian Government. Last year for example they had one. It also doesn’t mean that if you sell out a range, that it makes you money, or a profit, far from it, as other car companies in the super car market will testify to.

As for the mechanise, they are fighting all around the world with counterfeit mechanise. I agree if they had all the profit on the sales of all the counterfeit goods then yes, your claim would carry water.

As for the Vodafone deal, I actually do know a lot about it, and your figures are extremely high to the point of someone been very economical with the truth on what was paid or not.


With USGP not replaced theoretically there is a slot empty which I imagine any independent constructor would have to go through a bidding process. If say Toyota or Honda or any other major manufacturer wishes to come back to F1 as a constructor is the door just opened for them

Very insightful article James. Perhaps those who ask what is the point of a teams like HRT or Virgin and criticize midfield teams for taking on pay divers at the young drivers test should bare this article in mind.


McLaren and Williams are the only two teams that are able to claim that they are racing teams first, something else second. Quite frankly, it should be embarrassing for Ferrari that Red Bull and McLaren are ahead of them. For all the resources and experience they have, Merc and Ferrari should be walking every championship. The fact that they aren't - and particularly that Merc are still so far off the pace - is, quite frankly, quite amusing.

Long live racing teams that are racing teams first, something else second. You don't hear McLaren or Williams threatening to throw their toys out the pram every couple of years like you do with Luca de M, do you?


Well, you forgot to mention Sauber and Force India. And in past you name from BRMs to Minardi Ah and even HRT till mid-season this year. So, honestly, a large portion of the F1 fraternity from past till date and in future can claim and will always be Racing Teams First and Everything else second.

How many Car Manufacturers are there? Only two mind you, Ferrari and Mercedes (They build everything including the engines). Ferrari and Mercedes can claim being the only teams that have raced 100% genuine race-cars even before F1, Bruce Mclaren and Frank Williams were born.

Even in today's these two teams Ferrari and Mercedes have 100% genuine race cars.. not bits and pieces including engine, being supplied to them by external sources including Ferrari and Mercedes.

So Two 100% teams Only - Ferrari and Mercedes, rest are collaborative side-casts 🙂


I diddn't realize that a team had to supply all their own parts to be considered a genuine F1 racing team. Quite sad to have such a view, especially when RedBull and McLaren have beaten the "constructors" easily for the past two years! 🙂


"McLaren and Williams are the only two teams that are able to claim that they are racing teams first, something else second." Dear old Enzo would turn in his Grave if he ever heard a statement like that. Williams realised very late that basing ur entire business model around just the F1 racing operation is a terrible idea, McLaren almost made that same mistake. Enzo didn't, this visionary realised that sometimes Racing Alone wouldn't be enough to pay for the Carbon Fibre and he might just have to sell something to continually Fund his racing habit, Hence why we have said 458 Italia today. Although Ferrari Roadcar division might be bigger than the F1 operation, the F1 operation will always be the jewel in the crown.



A large part of Ferrari racing budget is apparently generated by the road cars which as you well know, the reason that the road cars exist today.


James missed a key point : The branding of RBR cars as 'INFINITI' - Renault-Nissan's US aimed luxury brand that is bringing in some positive advertisement. All in all, RBR is now the unofficial works team for Renault. Ferrari and the rest of the grid will have to really dig deep down their resources now to beat RB-Vettel-Newey-Renault partnership. They are the new "horsemen" aka Ferrari of 96-06.

If i were Whitmarsh, i would be sending "feelers" to Honda by now. Honda loves engine challenges and have never been really good making chassis ( just follow the HRC history esp in MotoGp). Mclaren-Honda have historic relationship which is almost legendary. If Mercedes are to back their own works team, Mclaren will really be out their on their own and will need a new partner.Honda could be the perfect fit.

Also, if Renault are spending 120m euros/year on Engines,compared to 250m euros on the entire team,that means engines make up half the cost of running a full works F1 team! Quite honestly, i'm a bit surprised. I never thought engines made up 50% of all F1 expenses.


I would have thought that it was common knowledge that Engines make up over 40% of a teams Budget, hence why Engine Freeze was critical even before RRA. Aero Important yes, but the Engine pre-Freeze was the main performance differentiator. Remember when BMW wanted into F1, poured a lot into Engine first, concentrated heavily on the Engine until they decided that Williams wasn't making good enough chassis anymore and they could do a better job, which they duly did.


On your last comment, not quite. That's the cost of supplying all three teams they are supplying currently.


Hi James,

What do you think of the rumours that Lola may be making a return to F1 in 2014 if the FIA open up the 13th team slot? It would be great to see them return. Which other teams/manufacturers are also looking to come in?


It's a good way of getting a brand loads of publicity. How many things is Virgin always "poised" to do that they never actually do?

Michael Terminello

Alot haha, I wonder what is next for Virgin. They've done so well with the Airline, that new spacecraft and of course being a major sponsor of Marussia etc.

Speaking of Lola I'm sure you remember this from 1990! With the Lola Larrousse Lamborghini V12: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuyt0C5JhAc

I hope they return it would be great for the sport. There are so many teams/manufacturers I'd like to see in the sport or return to the sport.


how does cosworth compare to renault with respect to how much $ was invested this year on the engine?


Here's what I think based on what I've read:

As far as I know HRT, Virgin and Team Lotus (Caterham) are spending a fraction of the big four and probably still quite a bit less than the Saubers & Torro Roso's of the world. They are far off the pace, Lotus less so, but not THAT far.

If I had to choose between teams spending $40m to let's say $80m a year + less tracks drama + people in the grand stands + races on circuits that are there for the good of the sport and not the boss' pockets OR spend what they spend currently + all this other nonsense I'd much rather go with the former.

Yeah there's less innovation at the back of the grid, but what the heck do we have blown-diffusers for. Don't get me wrong, I love F1 and all the tricks, but not at the cost of the sport. And lets not forget from our point of view sport is there to entertain. NOT to frustrate the crap out of us, because we have to race at Valencia or teams keep coming and going and have to put up with all the drama.

Let's freaking race.


Hi James

Could you tell us what you know about the latest rumours regarding Kimi Raikkonen wanting an equity stake in Williams before he will sign with them?


I cannot confirm. Bear in mind that he owns a racing team with Steve Robertson. Steve and his father David were in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. The team's shareholding has changed significantly in recent years with Toto Wolff buying in and then a floatation on the Frankfurt exchange earlier this year. If Raikkonen was planning to stick around at Williams it would make sense to ask the question - but I don't see his negotiating position being that strong at the moment


Perhaps he is looking for an equity stake in lieu of a big salary.

It just seems to be heading into murky waters if a driver has a stake in the team, as he would be a part owner he would automatically assume that he is the defacto no.1 and want a say in other aspects of how the team is run as well. Just adds a layer of complexity that I can't see working.

With that in mind, if Williams build a really quick car, this would surely affect their ability to attract another top tier driver who could not be guaranteed equality in the team.


Owning an F1 race team is a very shaky business, and sucks money like water through a fire hose. He would have to be very, very careful making such an investment. Look at all the other small players that have come and gone over the years? Small-time owners have a poor track record - pardon the pun. If I was Kimi, I would be very dubious on this move until you were sure that Williams were definitely "on the way up". Then you could at least get your money back if you had to bail. But - Kimi is no dummy - I bet he knows that.


Petrov has since apologised for his comments.


F1 is a sport of passion, For GLOBAL CAR MANUFACTURERS (please note Mclaren is not a global car maker, so is not taken account in this) you need passion to be in F1 and no where the passion is displayed more than in Ferrari. They have stuck with F1 even when their team was going through hardships (period between 1979 and 2000). No one team has shown the determination as Ferrari has, teams like Honda, Toyota, Renault have gave up on F1 when their respective teams were not performing... Ferrari never gave up... And have proven that they are the gutsiest spenders in F1. Wonder how many teams can continue spending hundreds of millions when their team is going through a slump in their respective teams form for 21 years? in a sport where careers and existences are gauged on a year-on-year basis.

Hats off to Scuderia Ferrari 🙂


Hats off to McLaren and Williams for resisting some of the the excesses of the "constructors"

who also have a long rich history in F1.


RED BULL willl disappear one day. After all its just a drinks company. Even the Japanese-gaints pulled out from F1. How about these guys.

I don't think Red Bull can dominate much. It will not work even if Adrian stays there or not.

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