Ford announces F1 return

Red Bull Powertrains agrees strategic alliance with Ford Motor Company

If ever there was any doubt that Formula 1's new-found popularity in the USA has escaped the attention of the country's automotive companies, Ford's announcement that it is set to return to the sport with Oracle Red Bull Racing in 2026 put that to rest.  

Only a few week's after General Motors announced that it would support Michael Andretti's bid to enter F1 with a new team running Cadillac branding, Ford's CEO Jim Farley joined Oracle Red Bull Racing's CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner on stage to announce a strategic partnership which will see the famous blue oval return the pinnacle of world motor sport in 2026.  

Farley stated that the sport's new powertrain regulations played a key role in the company's decision.  In 2026 F1 will adopt a new engine based on a simplified version the current single-turbo V6 hybrid motor but with a far greater use of electrical energy and synthetic fuels used in the internal combustion engine.  The use of these fuels, produced using carbon capture technology, means that Formula car will no longer be powered using fossil fuels, an important point for Ford given its huge investment in electric vehicles and the future abandonment of fossil fuel-powered cars.

Following Honda's decision to withdraw from Formula 1, Red Bull established its own powertrain facility adjacent to its factories in Milton Keynes and has recruited key staff from among its competitors.  That strategy seems set to pay off handsomely as a result of the new strategic partnership with Ford.  It also gives Ford a fast-tracked return to the the front of Formula 1 and the opportunity to add to the remarkable tally of 174 Grand Prix victories which it scored between 1967 and 2004 whilst in partnership with Cosworth.

"This is a major coup for both parties," said Mark Gallagher, former head of Cosworth's F1 business. "It completes the circle for Ford which sold Jaguar Racing to Red Bull at the end of 2004 and will now return in partnership with that team 22 years later.  It gives Red Bull a huge automotive partner, one which has extensive research and development capabilities along with battery and control systems technologies which may be particularly useful when Red Bull Powertrains develops the 2026 power unit.  We can all now relish the prospect of Ford joining Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Mercedes in competing for the World Championship"

"It remains to be seen whether Honda, which has enjoyed great success with Red Bull, will finally commit to returning with the full programme in 2026 in partnership with another team, while GM's involvement in Andretti's fledgling project is yet another interesting development.  The 2026 engine regulations have certainly attracted manufacturers to F1, the move away from fossil fuels having silenced critics, particularly when combined with the 2030 net zero carbon targets for the whole sport."

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