Ford confirms its return to F1 racing. In the joint Red Bull-Ford Powertrains, the Blue Oval will focus on hybrid technology and software.
Ford and Red Bull Racing, the reigning Formula One world champions, have confirmed that the Blue Oval will return to the series in a new partnership dubbed Red Bull-Ford Powertrains. F1’s next-generation, clean-fuel hybrid power units won’t be seen in competition until 2026, but Ford CEO Jim Farley and Ford Performance Motorsports global director Mark Rushbrook told MotorTrend that the two companies will start working together right away, potentially boosting Red Bull’s performance in the meantime through a deeper pool of various technical resources. The initial contract between the parties is now in effect and will last until the end of the 2030 Formula One season.
The news is the latest best/worst-kept secret in F1. While rumours of a Ford/Red Bull partnership were not widespread for long, they gained traction in recent weeks, though the precise nature of the arrangement remained unknown until now.
[Formula 1] and a few other premier series, like NASCAR, are actually the foundation, this same real pillars of in out [new motorsports] strategy,” Farley explained.
Rushbrook stated, “The technical collaboration is on the powertrains side of the business, so it will be referred to as ‘Red Bull-Ford Powertrains.’ That will be the official power-unit manufacturer. That is what the Oracle Red Bull Racing Team and the [Red Bull-owned] Scuderia Alpha Tauri team will be powered by. So, while Ford will not be explicitly mentioned in the team name, it will be associated with the power-unit manufacturer and will obviously be a partner with both the team and the power-unit company.”
According to Ford, the marriage symbolises “a partnership on hybrid technology in which we’ll lend our expertise. Ford will focus not only on the hybrid segment, but also on software development and analytics.”
Not Your Typical F1 Collaborations
In other words, this isn’t the typical engine-supply deal in which a large automotive manufacturer designs and builds complete engines and then delivers them to a partner racing team (s). Red Bull has long used this type of arrangement, most recently with Honda. The Japanese company will officially exit F1 at the end of the 2021 season, but it will continue to provide technical support to Red Bull. The team will continue to use Honda-designed hybrid power units until the new Formula One formula is introduced in the 2026 season.
Red Bull appeared to be on the verge of bankruptcy just a year ago. A deal with Porsche in which the German automaker would have acquired a significant stake in the team’s parent company. However, talks reportedly ended in September when Red Bull management decided. It wasn’t willing to give up control of an organisation known for its adaptability in operations. And the ability to respond quickly in changing competitive circumstances.
Ford Is No Stranger To F1
Ford has a long F1 history, dating back to its collaboration with engine builder Cosworth, which resulted in the famous DFV V-8 engine. It debuted in 1967 and remained competitive until its final season in 1983. Ford-powered cars have won 174 races, 10 F1 Constructors’ Championships, and 13 Drivers’ Championships in total. However, Ford has struggled for success in the modern era, with Michael Schumacher winning the 1994 Drivers’ Championship in the Benetton B194 in 1994.
It later teamed up with three-time world champion Jackie Stewart to form Stewart Grand Prix, which struggled to produce strong results between 1997 and 1999. From 2000 to 2004, the Blue Oval took over the effort and rebranded it as Jaguar, but it, too, never became a front-runner. Ford eventually sold Jaguar to Red Bull ahead of the 2005 season, and the company has been absent from F1 ever since.