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Ford is Returning to F1 After a 20 Year Hiatus

The legendary American automaker Ford recently made a major announcement that has the motorsport industry buzzing. The company has revealed that it will collaborate with reigning world champion Red Bull to return to F1 racing in 2026. Ford will contribute its technical know-how in a number of key areas, including combustion engine development, power unit control software, battery cell technology and electric motor technology. A smart business move, Red Bull and Ford’s partnership is revving up just as F1 is experiencing a resurgence of popularity in the US, thanks in no small part to the binge-worthy Netflix hit, Drive to Survive (check out our full guide for the upcoming season 5 here).

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Ford returning to F1

Fords involvement in F1 dates back to the 1960s marked by the triumph of the DFV engine | Image: F1

The return of Ford to the F1 circuit after a 20-year hiatus marks a significant moment in the sport’s history. In 2004, it sold its Jaguar team to Red Bull, but prior to that it had been a big player in the sport, having helped fund the development of Cosworth’s DFV engine in the mid-to-late 1900s. The DFV engine remains one of the most successful engines in the history of F1, having powered teams to 155 victories in just 16 years.

The new alliance will also occur at the same time as new engine regulations that will mandate the usage of V6 turbo-hybrid F1 cars with enhanced electrical power and sustainable synthetic fuels in internal combustion engines beginning in 2026. While they now utilise Honda engines, Red Bull will keep using them until 2025 while also constructing a power unit to fulfil the new requirements. Ford will concentrate on incorporating hybrid technology into the turbocharged engines utilised by racers such as Max Verstappen, leaning on their expertise in constructing electric vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen | Image: Ford

Christian Horner, the mastermind behind the Red Bull Racing team, said that Ford and Red Bull Powertrains will be joining forces to revolutionise the future of Formula One. With their combined expertise, they plan to create a state-of-the-art 350kW electric motor and a brand-new combustion engine to power the next generation of F1 cars.

“It’s fantastic to be welcoming Ford back into Formula 1 through this partnership,” he said. “As an independent engine manufacturer to have the ability to benefit from an OEM’s experience like Ford puts us in good stead against the competition.

“They are a manufacturer rich in motoring history that spans generations. From Jim Clark to Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, the lineage speaks for itself. For us as Red Bull Powertrains to open the next chapter of that dynasty, as Red Bull Ford, is tremendously exciting.”

Jim Farley, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, discussed the business strategy behind the decision, highlighting the growing relevance of F1 to road cars.

“Ford’s return to Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing is all about where we are going as a company – increasingly electric, software-defined, modern vehicles and experiences,” he said. “F1 will be an incredibly cost-effective platform to innovate, share ideas and technologies, and engage with tens of millions of new customers.”

Ford’s return to F1 comes as its stateside rival General Motors also attempts to enter the sport. GM is hoping to enter Cadillac in 2026, and has teamed up with Andretti Autosport to create a completely new team. However, Ford has beaten GM to the punch and will be the first automaker to make a return to the sport.

The F1 community eagerly awaits the results of this collaboration between two major players in the automotive industry. Will Ford and Red Bull be able to reclaim their former glory and dominate the sport once again, or will they face stiff competition from other teams?

Ford f1

Image: Ford

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