American car manufacturer Ford will return to Formula One in 2026 after more than two decades away with a link-up with world champions Red Bull, the company said on Friday.
Ford announced they were entering a “long term strategic technical partnership for the development of the next-gen hybrid power unit to be used from the 2026 Formula 1 season onwards.” The company said they would provide the power units for both the Red Bull team and the Alpha Tauri team until at least 2030.
“This is the start of a thrilling new chapter in Ford’s motorsports story that began when my great-grandfather (Henry Ford) won a race that helped launch our company,” said Bill Ford, executive chair.
Ford last featured in F1 in 2004 when they were partnered with Jordan and their return is a further sign of the growth of the sport in the United States.
This season will see three Grand Prix races in the U.S with Las Vegas joining Miami and Austin on the calendar.
The popularity of F1 in the country has soared since the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’ enjoyed huge success.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won the past two drivers’ titles in F1 and the Honda-powered team are the defending constructors’ champions.
Ford have played a part in 10 constructors’ championships and 13 drivers’ championships — making them the third most successful engine manufacturer in F1 history with their most recent success coming via Michael Schumacher’s win with Benetton in 1994.
Red Bull unveiled their new car for the upcoming season at an event in New York on Friday and team principal Christian Horner said he was looking forward to the link-up.
“It’s fantastic to be welcoming Ford back into Formula 1 through this partnership,” he said.
“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,” he said.
The companies will begin collaborating this year ahead of the change of regulations for engines in F1 and the agreement was welcomed by Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali.
“The news today that Ford is coming to Formula 1 from 2026 is great for the sport and we are excited to see them join the incredible automotive partners already in Formula One,” said Domenicali.
Based around the current turbocharged 1.6-litre power unit, F1’s future engine regulations will feature increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels, which the series says will also improve safety and lowering costs for manufacturers.
At the New York launch, Verstappen said he was “very optimistic” about Red Bull’s chances for 2023 as he chases a third consecutive title.
“There are always things that you can do better and that’s always what I’m asking myself, ‘Where can I be better?’” he said.
Red Bull enters the season as the defending constructors’ champions for the first time since 2014.
“We go from being the hunter to the hunted,” Horner told the event. “Our rivals for sure haven’t stood still. We’re expecting Ferrari to be competitive, Mercedes are going to be there,” he added.
Red Bull also announced that fans will be able to design the team’s livery for the three Grand Prixs in the United States.
“It’s going to be a competition, it’s a huge opportunity and we’ve thought long and hard about it,” said Horner.
“There’ll be then a panel of judges and we’ll pick out the best and most striking ones for these three races,” he added.
Originally published as Formula 1 2023: Ford’s partnership with Red Bull marks a return to F1 after two decades away