An investigation has revealed who are the most punctual and tardiest bill-payers in F1 – with one team settling its debts to its creditors on average a startling 180 days late.
A study conducted by business information firm Dun & Bradstreet looking at the period from December, 2009 to November, 2010 has divulged that only one of the twelve teams paid its bills on time last year – and that the average settlement amongst all competitors come season's end was 28 days late, four times slower than back at the beginning of the campaign, the Mail on Sunday
The gold star in the class went to double world champions Red Bull Racing and 'junior' concern Scuderia Toro Rosso, who never failed to meet their payment deadlines, largely thanks to an increased budget from billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz – and the two energy drinks-backed outfits in fact improved by a day over the second half of the season.
By stark contrast, at the other end of the scale, F1 2010 newcomer Lotus Racing – now Team Lotus – was on average almost half a year behind in its financial dealings, but if the Anglo/Malaysian operation was the sport's worst offender, it was far from the only one, as despite possessing an estimated £1.3 billion in resources between them and the general state of the global economy being better now than it was twelve months ago, it seems teams are still rather unwilling to part with their cash.
Red Bull's fellow front-runners McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes fell respectively 17, 15 and eleven days behind in their payments to the likes of designers, caterers, equipment suppliers and haulage companies, whilst Renault – which required two loans totalling more than £18 million last year as it felt the financial pinch of its parent manufacturer's significantly reduced involvement and therefore investment in the sport – was the worst culprit in terms of increases in late payments, settling up an average of 14 days beyond deadline, 180 per cent slower than previously.
Much the same could be said of Williams, who suffered greatly from the loss of key sponsors including RBS and bankrupt Icelandic investment company Baugur, whilst two teams with the backing of billionaires in the shape of airline founder Sir Richard Branson at Virgin and liquor baron Dr. Vijay Mallya at Force India were no more respectable. The former paid on average eight days late – albeit still far more laudable than the efforts of many of its infinitely wealthier rivals – and the latter 30, causing one unnamed FIF1 supplier to confess that he had been forced to pay his own staff late as a consequence.
“If Vijay sold his yacht, it would keep the team going for a couple of years,” he quipped.
There was no data for either Sauber or struggling Spanish newcomer Hispania Racing (HRT).
The full list of payment times is as follows:
Red Bull Racing
0 days late
Scuderia Toro Rosso
0 days late
8 days late
9 days late
Mercedes Grand Prix
11 days late
14 days late
15 days late
17 days late
Force India F1
30 days late
180 days late