Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz

Just how much does it cost to run an F1 team? Budgets differ greatly from championship frontrunners to back-markers, but even in a general sense it's usually hard to say, because F1 budgets are typically closely-guarded secrets. Reports indicate, however, that Red Bull has spent a whopping £422 million (equivalent to $690m by today's conversion rates) from 2005 (when it entered the sport) through 2009.

The report, from the business editor at racing news site Pitpass, ran in The Independent, breaking down yearly expenditures made by the energy drink concern to Red Bull Technology. The outfit is the direct parent of both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, and until 2010 when new regulations banned shared chassis, was responsible for designing and producing the cars for both RBR and STR.

The finances, therefore, are split between the two teams, but it's no secret which one gets the lion's share. In 2007, for example, Red Bull reportedly invested £89.2m ($146m) in F1, of which £78.2m ($128m) went to Red Bull Racing, the remaining £11m ($18m) to Toro Rosso. In, 2008 the beverage company invested £82.5m ($135m), £79m ($129m) of which funded Red Bull Racing. In 2009, investment jumped to £106.8m ($175m), with £96.9m ($158m) going to RBR.

Could all that cash possibly be worth it? Aside from the notion that you can't put a price on victory – and that Red Bull Racing is the current reigning champion – industry insiders, considering the on-air exposure and positive brand association from which Red Bull benefits, say it most definitely is. In fact, according to the report, Red Bull would have to pay roughly double what it does to buy that kind of exposure. And don't forget, of course, that F1 is only one of many sports the company directly invests in. It sponsors countless sporting events globally and fields teams in soccer, hockey and NASCAR.