American auto behemoth Ford is all set to walk Formula 1’s gilded stairs once again as the company has officially made public its association with Red Bull from 2026.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker will collaborate with current world champions Red Bull Racing to compete for glory in the pinnacle of motorsport. Owing to the new 2026 engine regulations aimed at attracting new manufacturers, Ford was lured into the prospect of developing the new propulsion systems with Red Bull Powertrains, RB’s newly established engine making outfit after another one of Honda’s mood-swinging F1 exists (they’re back again, by the way).
Nitty-gritties of Ford’s Red Bull deal
Ford will be entering into a technical partnership with RBPT for the development of said next-generation hybrid powertrains, providing the horses for Red Bull and its sister outfit Alpha Tauri through to 2030. To be called ‘Red Bull Ford’, it is in fact one of the 6 different manufacturers registered with the FIA as an engine supplier, a number that currently stands (and will stand till 2025) at four. The other 5 being Mercedes-AMG, Audi, Honda, Ferrari and Alpine.
Now, the fine print reads that Ford will provide technical expertise in all areas where it can add value to Red Bull, while areas to be explored together are the combustion engine, battery cell, electric motor, power unit control software and analytics. So it’s not yet exactly clear what responsibility Ford will be taking on, but one thing’s for sure: this is clearly a canny representation of the Netflix effect on America!
Red Bull meanwhile launched their 2023 campaigner, the RB19 in a flashy-albeit-snoozer show in New York, sharing the shoreline with their new American partner. In typical Red Bull fashion, the Austrian drink-maker seemed to have bothered even lesser in changing their livery this time around, for what seemed like only an immaculate reshuffle of sponsor spots. Needless to say, the livery was showcased on the old 2022 chassis.
The history of Ford with Formula 1
Ford will be returning to the summit of motorsport after more than 20 years of ignorance, last time seen in 2004 with Jaguar (which, soon enough, became Red Bull and subsequently their initial engine partner). Just like how Ford and Red Bull’s marriage isn’t a first, one perhaps would be surprised to know that right after Ferrari and Mercedes, it is the Blue Oval that bags the most number of race wins per engine maker! From Jim Clark’s Lotus in 1963 to Michael Schumacher’s Benetton in 1994, Ford has always been a known face in F1, powering the top crown charge 13 times throughout history. Most motorsport fanatics would fondly remember Ford in its Cosworth guise: the era-defining V8, a symphony of which echoes through our minds unparalleled.
Formula 1 apart, Ford also has its grips on the WEC and IMSA GT class racing, and doesn’t miss out on the WRC series either, being one of the most revered names on gravel. The brand’s recent push for electrification falls congruent with Formula 1’s focus on sustainability, evident through the lack of even a single Mustang V8 roar at the launch, but nevertheless, an equally mental MachE 1400 was their chariot of choice.
The 2026 grid is all set to be lit on jet fuel with carmakers scattering left, right and centre to grab a seat in Formula 1. Andretti and General Motors have formally registered interest as a new team entrant (although amid an array of naysayers), while word is on the street that even Hyundai is looking to field a team. Audi, as is the word already out, will be building its own engines and partnering up with Sauber Motorsport as their works team. Rest assured, Formula 1 spirit of combustion will be kicking and breathing just as well going late into this decade.
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