Ford to return to the Formula 1 in 2026
Ford will return to Formula 1 from 2026 after more than two decades – as Red Bull’s technical partner. Red Bull Powertrains and Ford will collaborate on the development of the next-generation hybrid powertrain for the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams.
Ford will provide expertise in areas such as battery cell and electric motor technology, as well as powertrain control and analytics. Audi had already confirmed that it would compete in Formula 1 together with the Swiss racing team Sauber from 2026. The background to the entry of well-known car manufacturers is the new drive system regulations, with which the share of electric power will increase significantly from 2026 compared to today’s Formula 1 drive systems.
Among other things, the 350 kW electric motor for the hybrid system is now to be developed jointly. Compared to the current F1 powertrains, the electric motor will be much more powerful, but the hybrid system as a whole will be significantly simplified. From 2026, there will only be hybridisation as in road cars, with the electric motor providing additional propulsion. Currently, there is still a so-called MGU-H in Formula 1, which is more or less part of the turbocharger. This component has proven to be technologically highly complex in the past, but has no relevance to series production for the manufacturers. Therefore, this component was dropped for 2026 in order not to put newcomers like Ford with little experience in the complex MGU-H at a disadvantage.
For a long time, Porsche was considered a likely partner for Red Bull Powertrains. Negotiations were already so far advanced that both companies had secured the naming rights for a joint project in some countries. In the end, however, no agreement was reached – Red Bull apparently feared that Porsche would have too much influence and that there would be lengthy coordination processes with a German management and supervisory board. According to reports, Porsche did not want to back down from its demand to be an equal partner. It is not known in detail how Ford and Red Bull came to an agreement in this regard.
“We are entering an exciting new era for Ford Performance,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley. “We will be competing with Red Bull Racing to win Formula One, the premier class of motorsport.” Incidentally, the Red Bull partnership closes a circle: when Ford did not want to continue supporting the factory team of Jaguar, which was still part of the group at the time, due to a lack of success, the team was sold to Red Bull. The last big success for Ford in Formula 1 was winning the world championship in 1994 as a supplier for the Benetton team – with a certain Michael Schumacher at the wheel.
“It’s fantastic to welcome Ford back to Formula One through this partnership,” said Christian Horner, team principal and CEO of Red Bull Racing. “Being able to benefit from the experience of an OEM like Ford as an independent engine manufacturer puts us in a good competitive position. They are a manufacturer rich in automotive history that spans generations.”
There is already a US team in Formula One with Haas (power units from Ferrari), and now one of the major US manufacturers is following suit with Ford. Another could soon follow, as General Motors also has Formula One ambitions: The Andretti team, which would also like to compete in Formula 1, has recently secured the support of GM’s Cadillac brand. But Andretti-Cadillac does not yet have a secure starting place.
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