Ford is back! In this case, that means on the Formula One circuit.
The Detroit-area automaker revealed plans Friday morning to partner with Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri to produce hybrid engines in time for the 2026 racing season. The deal calls for them to work together until at least 2030.
“This is the start of a thrilling new chapter in Ford’s motorsports story that began when my great-grandfather won a race that helped launch our company,” said Bill Ford, executive chair.
“Ford, alongside world champions, Oracle Red Bull Racing, is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford’s long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world’s most visible stages.”
Starting essentially now, Ford and Red Bull Powertrains will develop the powerplants to meet F1’s new technical regulations, including a 350-kW electric motor and a new combustion engine able to accept fully sustainable fuels, ready for the 2026 season.
Bringing the knowledge
Ford has a lengthy motorsports history, which most famously includes the decision to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after Ferrari rudely declined an offer to buy the Italian sports car maker.
In the case of the new gas-electric engines that will focus on sustainable fuels to power the new hybrid engines, the automaker’s produced a few hybrids during its time. Additionally, the company is already competing on racing circuits around the globe, perhaps most notably on the NASCAR circuit.
Ford will provide technical expertise in all areas where it can add value to the front-running World Championship team, officials noted. Areas to be explored together are in the combustion engine development and key developments like battery cell and electric motor technology, power unit control software and analytics.
“It’s fantastic to be welcoming Ford back into Formula 1 through this partnership,” said Christian Horner, Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal and CEO. “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 a way but for us the work already starts as we look to a new future and a continued evolution of Oracle Red Bull Racing.”
Not alone in F1
Ford is the second U.S. car company to make a return to F1 in recent weeks. General Motors announced plans to partner with former IndyCar driver and team owner Michael Andretti to compete on the circuit. Andretti is the son of Mario Andretti, who was the 1978 F1 world champion and among the best-known drivers ever.
The Andretti Cadillac team would be based in the U.S. with an additional facility in the U.K. for team support. When the FIA starts the official procedure, the Andretti Cadillac team intends to file an Expression of Interest. If chosen, the team hopes to start competing with at least one American driver as soon as is feasible.
The new partnership follows FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s declaration that the FIA is considering expanding Formula One beyond the current total of 10 teams, and it broadens the international reach for both Cadillac and Andretti Global.
While F1’s popularity has been expanding worldwide, it’s most recently grown in the United States, with 2023 races scheduled to be run in Austin, Texas, Miami and Las Vegas.
Part of that shift though includes a move toward more environmentally friendly racing, including the hybrid engines Ford and Red Bull will begin working together later this summer.
“We are entering an exciting new age for Ford Performance,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur racer himself. “We will be competing to win in F1, the pinnacle for motor sport, with Red Bull Racing. You will see the world’s most popular sports coupe, the Mustang, race from the grass roots to Australian Supercars to NASCAR to Le Mans.
“And will build our off-road leadership in the World Rally Championship, King of Hammers and to the Baja 1000 and more. All the while, we’ll continue to excite the world with cool demonstrators like SuperVan 4 and Mustang Mach-E 1400.”