Red Bull’s spending fell in 2019 compared to 2018, but the F1 team still faces difficulty in scaling back to meet 2021 FIA budget cap.

Newly released accounts reveal that the Milton Keynes team spent £237.3m last year, a fall of some £2.3m compared to the 2018 figure of £239.6m. The modest drop followed rises of £33.7m in 2017 and £12.9m in 2018.

The numbers reflect the fact last year the team switched from being a paying Renault Sport customer to becoming the works team of Honda, with the change in the commercial terms of its power unit deal in effect cancelling out the inevitable trend in rising expenditure in other areas.

Nevertheless, like rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, RBR will have to undergo significant restructuring in the coming months as it prepares for the move to the new FIA financial regulations and the budget cap in 2021.

At the current exchange rate, the budget cap of $145m equates to around £113m, less than half RBR’s current spend, although there are many exclusions.

RBR’s overall income remained stable in 2019, rising only slightly from £245.1m to £245.4m, with the team retaining third place in the world championship in 2018 and thus earning a similar amount from the F1 organisation. It declared a modest profit of £618K, down from £923K in 2018.

Assessing the team’s figures is made more complicated by RBR’s relationship with its 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 that 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 F1, notably with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie project.

RBT’s overall figures, which include those for RBR as outlined above, show that 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.

The 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 that 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 COVID-19 crisis 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.”