Ford looks to be interested in joining Formula One in a partnership with the reigning champions Red Bull Racing. The Detroit automaker was most famously involved in Grand Prix racing through its funding and support of the Cosworth DFV engine, the most successful engine in racing history, during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It was last involved in F1 with the Jaguar F1 team in the early 2000s, which the automaker then sold to Red Bull in 2005.
Red Bull Racing’s relationships with its power unit partners have been erratic over the past decade. The F1 team went from winning four straight championships with Renault to severing ties with the French automaker and running unbranded engines. Then, Red Bull sifted through the ashes of the failed McLaren-Honda reunion to partner with the Japanese manufacturer. In its third season with Honda, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship. However, Honda announced before the season even started that it would leave F1 after 2021.
Motorsport.com reports that Ford is exploring options to partner with Red Bull Racing in 2026. The potential partnership would largely revolve around branding, financial backing and technical support. Ford would not be building a hybrid V6 power unit for the 2026 F1 regulations. Red Bull is committed to building its own power unit regardless of if the team enters any agreement with a manufacturer.
Team Principal Christian Horner said to Motorsport.com earlier this year:
“We are fully focused on a Red Bull power unit, and if there was a like-minded partner that could contribute something to the project, then of course you would have to absolutely consider that. But it’s not a prerequisite.
We will be the only team other than Ferrari to have engine and chassis all on one campus under one roof. We believe that for the long-term competitiveness of the team, it is absolutely the right thing to be doing. And of course, there are other opportunities it presents as well.”
In the wake of Honda’s withdrawal, Red Bull created Red Bull Powertrains to develop a power unit for 2026. The team also negotiated the exclusive power unit distribution rights from Honda so Red Bull and AlphaTauri could continue with the same engines until the rules change. And yes, Ferrari is the only other team with its power unit development facilities on-site. Mercedes, Alpine and soon Audi all base their racing team proper and engine development at two different locations.
Ford can seemingly offer what Porsche couldn’t: autonomy. In the World Rally Championship, Ford lets M-Sport independently represent the automaker albeit with minimal support. Obviously, the Ford-Cosworth DFV is the ideal example of the partnership that Red Bull would want.