F1 Team Budgets: Which Teams Got the Best Value for Their Money in 2015?

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2015

Mercedes and Williams got the most value for their team budgets in 2015.
Mercedes and Williams got the most value for their team budgets in 2015.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Over the last two years, more than ever before, Formula One has embraced efficiency. With the introduction of hybrid V6 engines, teams are battling to get the most performance from a (relatively) small amount of fuel.

When it comes to the amount of money spent to obtain that performance, though, any notion of efficiency quickly disappears in the rear-view mirror.

In 2015, F1 teams collectively spent approximately €2.6 billion to go racing, according to Business Book GP's figures, as published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo (h/t Crash.net). Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren each supposedly spent more than €400 million over the course of the season.

Of course, nailing down exact budget figures is difficult in the highly secretive world of F1. Still, Budget Book GP's numbers provide interesting data points with which to compare the teams.

Now that the season is over, there are plenty of lists and awards being handed out for the best this or the most that. This list is slightly different, ranking the teams based on their spending efficiency. As we did during the summer break in August, we ranked the teams based on the amount of money they spent per point scored.

If you read last year's efficiency rankings, you might have noticed that the top three teams are the same this season: Mercedes, Williams and Force India. Not coincidentally, those teams all use Mercedes power units—the most efficient engine on the grid, but also the cheapest, per well-connected F1 journalist Joe Saward.

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Euros Per Point Scored in 2015
TeamBudget (€)Points€ per point
Force India129,700,000136953,676.47
Toro Rosso137,450,000672,051,492.54
Red Bull468,700,0001872,506,417.11
Business Book GP via Crash.net

As you can see, despite having one of the largest budgets in the sport, Mercedes still spent the least amount of money per constructors' point. That is what happens when you score 703 out of a possible 817 points over the course of the season.

Ferrari, third in the midseason rankings, fell just behind Force India, as the Silverstone-based team had a strong finish to the season. But Ferrari's significant improvements relative to 2014 moved them up the list from sixth at the end of last season.

Force India had a strong finish to the season, including a podium for Sergio Perez in Russia.
Force India had a strong finish to the season, including a podium for Sergio Perez in Russia.ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Sauber's whimpering finish to the campaign dropped them behind Red Bull, to eighth overall. But it was the Bulls who took the biggest tumble in the rankings compared to 2014, dropping from fourth at the end of last season to seventh in 2015, spending more than €2.5 million per point scored. No wonder Christian Horner and Helmut Marko were so mad at Renault.

After scoring two points last year, Manor went pointless again for the fifth time in six seasons of racing. That result can be excused, though, when you see their budget is €20 million smaller than the next lowest-spending team and less than one-fifth of what the richest teams are spending.

Still, there is reason for optimism at Manor, as the team will switch to Mercedes power units for next season and should be able to score at least a few points.

The biggest disappointment of the year has to be the renewed McLaren-Honda partnership. Most people expected the team to struggle somewhat, with Honda a year behind the other engine manufacturers in terms of development, but McLaren finished ninth in the constructors' championshiptheir worst result since 1980. 

Needless to say, the team did not get good value for their massive budget, spending more than €17 million per point scored.

McLaren had a disappointing season, plagued by problems with both the performance and reliability of their Honda engines.
McLaren had a disappointing season, plagued by problems with both the performance and reliability of their Honda engines.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

After the final race in Abu Dhabi, racing director Eric Boullier said, per a team press release:

To sum up, then, no, we haven't had a great season. No, we can't claim to have enjoyed every minute of it. No, we know it's been tough for our drivers, our staff, our sponsor-partners and our fans. But, indubitably, yes, we have continued and we will continue to work as hard as is humanly possible to make up the performance deficit to our rivals.

McLaren are just the latest example that you can spend as much money as you want in F1, but it does not guarantee success. Especially not when four teams are spending nearly half-a-billion Euros each. There can only be one winner, so several outfits are bound to be disappointed.

Looking ahead, the sport's governing body, the FIA, is still trying to implement some form of cost control, giving F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt a mandate to produce recommendations to help fix the sport.

With declining television viewership, though, and several races supposedly under threat (the German Grand Prix was cancelled this year), €400 million budgets are probably not sustainable over the long term. A budget cap would not only ensure the sport's continued viability, it would also close the performance gaps between the teams.

Otherwise, the teams will keep spending every Euro they can get their hands on, and even the most efficient ones will spend more than €500,000 per point scored.

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