It may seem as if there are no challenges left for Red Bull in Formula One. Having won four consecutive constructors' and drivers' titles and virtually every race on the calendar it has indeed pretty much done it all. As a result, it seems that the Austrian energy drinks manufacturer has set itself a new task which is maintaining the same level of success at a lower cost. It is even winning at that as Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt reveals in a report for American motoring magazine Autoweek.
The report reveals that Red Bull reduced its investment in its eponymous team from £84.5m to £67.0m. In the year to 31 December 2012 Red Bull Racing's revenue was almost the same as the previous year at £176.3m. Likewise, its costs remained stable at £175.6m so how did Red Bull manage to reduce its spending on the team? There are two reasons for this.
Red Bull Racing's revenue comes from three main sources: sponsorship, prize money and payments from Red Bull itself. In 2012 its sponsorship tally did not change significantly so that had little bearing on its finances.
Sponsorship is the smallest of the team's sources of revenue. Next up is prize money which last year comprised 47.5% of F1's underlying profits. This amount was divided into two with one half split equally between the top ten teams and the other paid to them in a sliding scale depending on position in the constructors' championship.
Red Bull Racing's prize money payment increased from an estimated £54.4m in 2011 to £59.3m last year but this wasn't because its position in the standings improved. Instead, the increase was down to a boost in F1's profits which led to the 47.5% prize fund rising from £439.6m in 2011 to £473.1m in 2012.
According to F1's trade guide Formula Money, Red Bull Racing was also paid a one-off bonus of £15.7m in 2012 for signing a new commercial agreement with the sport's boss Bernie Ecclestone which runs from 2013 until the end of 2020.
The increase in prize money along with the signing bonus came to £20.6m which allowed Red Bull to reduce its spending by nearly the same amount.
The Red Bull payment was still the team's single-largest source of revenue despite it falling last year. However, that is set to change in its 2013 accounts which will be released late next year.
The terms of the new commercial agreement began this year and Red Bull Racing is a big beneficiary of them. In addition to getting its share of the 47.5% prize fund, the team now also gets a share of what is known as the Constructors' Championship Bonus (CCB) fund. This is a dedicated prize pot of at least £63m which is split between the top three teams based on races won in the four seasons prior to 2012. Red Bull Racing leads this group and, according to the prospectus for the stalled flotation of F1 on the Singapore stock exchange, the reward for this is that the team gets at least £23m.
The increasing revenue means that Red Bull needs to invest even less in its team this year. It even allows some of its key costs to increase.
Last year, the team's biggest single cost was research and development spending which came to £75.7m and was up 8.3% on 2011. Staff numbers also rose with 53 added giving a total of 658. However, they weren't all connected to the F1 team. Staff are paid by the team's parent company Red Bull Technology which also supplies technology, such as gearboxes and energy recovery systems, to its rivals.
Total staff pay came to £52.2m with the highest-paid director believed to be team principal Christian Horner who received £2m last year up from £1.3m in 2011.
Red Bull Racing was left with a net profit of £700,000 in 2012, compared to £641,000 the previous year. This is far from Red Bull's greatest gain from F1.
According to Formula Money, Red Bull's Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) - the price it would have to pay to buy a similar amount of on-screen exposure - came to an estimated £203.1m last year which was 14.2% of the total gained by all the teams. Through the value of this exposure alone Red Bull more than offsets the cost of its annual investment in its team. The more it wins, the greater its exposure so don't expect to see the back of Red Bull any time soon.