He said what?! – Hungarian Grand Prix edition

In the green room following the Hungarian Grand Prix, the three podium finishers, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel, and Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn were watching the results on a television monitor.  Seeing that Pastor Maldonado had finished in tenth place, Brawn (I think, as he was off-camera) pointed out “a point for Williams,” and Kimi (I think, for the same reason), almost incredulously, responded, “Oh yeah.  First point . . . of the season, right?”

williamsPhoto credit: Rachel Clarke via Flickr

By itself, that statistic is shocking for a team with 9 World Constructors’ Championships in its history, and a race victory as recently as the 2012 Spanish GP.  McLaren is another traditional F1 power that is struggling this season, as Mercedes and Lotus have surged to the front of the pack, alongside Red Bull and Ferrari.  However, as TPL is fond of pointing out, F1 is not a sport which strives for parity and all teams are not created equal.  In fact, Ferrari’s budget for this season is four times higher than Marussia’s.  Given that kind of disparity, some teams know they have no hope of beating others, although there are numerous examples in F1 history of teams punching above their weight (and grossly underachieving: see Toyota, 2002-2009, the team’s entire existence).

Now that we have just passed the halfway point of the 2013 season, and with the month-long summer break looming, TPL thought it would be interesting to see which teams are getting the most ‘bang for their buck’ so far this year.  We all know Red Bull is leading both World Championships, but here is a different table, ranking the teams according to how much they are spending for each point they have scored so far.*

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 9.05.51 PM

There are no big surprises here.  Everyone knows that McLaren and Sauber are not having very good years, and to say the same about Williams, with the sport’s fifth largest budget, would be a huge understatement.  Those are the bottom three of the teams who have scored points so far this season.

One thing this ranking does tell us is that you do not always get what you pay for in F1.  For example, the two highest-spending teams, Ferrari and McLaren, are fourth and seventh in terms of value-for-money.  On the other hand, Lotus, with only the sixth-largest budget, are getting great value.  Force India is also not far from Ferrari’s ‘Dollars per point’ number, so they are certainly getting their money’s worth, although with a budget over three times smaller, they are not close to the Italian team in the Constructors’ standings.

malaysiaPhoto credit: Marco Espejo via Flickr

We will revisit this table at the end of the season to see whether the order has changed much.  Where teams finish in the Constructors’ Championship is very important, but teams do determine value in more ways than just how many points they score – brand exposure is also a large factor for teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull; and Toro Rosso not only adds to Red Bull’s exposure, but is also a F1-level driver development team.

In the end, spending a lot of money does not guarantee you will do well, but not spending a lot of money will pretty much guarantee that you will not do well.

* All budget numbers come from here (which may not be completely accurate, but at least gives an idea of the teams’ budgets relative to one another), and the numbers were converted from Euros to US dollars using xe.com.

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