Ford is set to make a return to F1 after announcing a technical partnership with Red Bull Powertrains for the new engine regulations in 2026.
While the partnership news had been made public before Red Bull’s live from New York season launch, Ford was one of the key talking points of the event which saw Team Principal, Christian Horner, drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo and Ford Motor Company’s President and CEO, Jim Farley, take to the stage to detail the reasons for and excitement about the upcoming partnership.
“It’s fantastic to be welcoming Ford back into Formula 1 through this partnership,” Horner 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.
“2026 is still a while away but for us the work already starts as we look to a new future and a continued evolution of Oracle Red Bull Racing.”
Farley explained that Ford did shop around but felt that partnering with Red Bull for the new engine regulations – which will see fully sustainable fuels powering the cars and more electrical power being created – was the best fit for the company’s future.
“Ford is going to return to Formula One after more than 20 years,” Farley said. “We looked at a lot of options as good business people, and we wanted to go in the direction that was authentic to us. So we’ve decided to have a strategic partnership and a technical partnership with Red Bull Powertrains to enter Formula One in 2026.
“We want to help Christian, drivers, the whole Red Bull Racing team to deliver the goods on the track. It’s a huge moment for the Ford family. Around the world we have almost 200,000 employees, and we are really excited to engage a whole new generation of customers with our electric vehicles. So it’s a big deal for us. We’re really excited about the sustainable direction of the sport. We’re on the same mission at Ford, and we cannot wait to go racing.”
The partnership between the two companies does make sense especially as Ford’s last involvement in Formula 1 was in the early 2000s when they owned and ran the Jaguar Racing team before selling it to Red Bull after the end of the 2004 season.
The launch also saw the debut of the livery for this year’s championship defence, the RB19, which follows the team’s usual blue, yellow and red design scheme however, that won’t be the look for the whole of the season though.
A design competition, Make Your Mark, was announced for each of the three American races on this season’s calendar – Miami, Austin and Las Vegas – which will allow fans to send in their designs for the car’s chassis, sidepods and endplates and the winning designer will get their livery on the car for that race as well as getting flights, accommodation and a garage tour.
There was an awkward moment near the end of the live event when the host invited F1’s CEO and President, Stefano Domenicali, onto the stage to talk about the Ford news. The Italian didn’t appear and after some emergency time-wasting chat the host then had to inform everyone that the F1 boss wouldn’t be joining them and wasn’t even in the building.
Domenicali did however share his excitement about the news in the initial press release before the Red Bull event, where he said: “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 1.
“Ford is a global brand with an incredible heritage in racing and the automotive world and they see the huge value that our platform provides with over half a billion fans around the world.
“Our commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and to introduce sustainable fuels in the F1 cars from 2026 is also an important reason for their decision to enter F1. We believe that our sport provides the opportunity and reach unlike any other and we cannot wait for the Ford logo to be racing round F1’s iconic circuits from 2026.”