After more than 20 years Ford is going racing again… Formula 1 racing, that is. On Friday, the Dearborn-based automaker announced it’s partnering with Red Bull Powertrains to develop a “next-gen hybrid power unit.”
A long-term deal, this strategic partnership will supply powertrains to the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams starting in 2026 and running until at least 2030. Ford will draw on its extensive hybrid and electric vehicle experience, providing expertise in analytics and software as well as battery cell and electric motor design. Racing is often used to test upcoming technology and improve roadgoing passenger vehicles, but this arrangement sounds like the exact opposite: street cars are being used to enhance racecars.
This year, Ford and Red Bull Powertrains will begin work on a special propulsion system that includes a 350-kilowatt electric motor and a newly designed combustion engine that is fully capable of running on sustainable fuels. The fruits of this partnership will be ready to run around racetracks in time for the 2026 season.
“F1 will be an incredibly cost-effective platform to innovate, share ideas and technologies, and engage with tens of millions of new customers,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford in a release shared by the automaker. “Ford’s return to Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing is all about where we are going as a company – increasingly electric, software-defined, modern vehicles and experiences,” he added.
“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,” said Christian Horner, Oracle Red Bull Racing team principal and CEO. “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.” Hopefully for the Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams that heritage delivers results in the 21st century.
By reentering F1, Ford will likely be the only manufacturer that competes in all levels of motorsport, from grassroots racing all the way to F1, with Le Mans, WRC, Baja 1000, NASCAR and many other series between those bookends.
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Ford’s expertise in electric propulsion systems is extensive and should be extremely valuable to Red Bull. The automaker is splashing out some $50 billion to push EVs forward and is already the second-largest manufacturer of electrics in the US following a certain competitor that starts with a “T” and ends with “esla.” So far, Ford’s electric offerings are resonating with consumers. More than 150,000 Mustang Mach-E SUVs have been produced, the F-150 Lighting pickup truck is sold out and the E-Transit van is an excellent option for commercial customers looking to slash their fuel bills. By the end of 2023, the automaker expects to deliver 600,000 electric vehicles globally, surpassing 2 million EVs delivered per annum by the end of 2026. Elevating its name by participating in F1 should help Ford achieve this ambitious electric vehicle sales goal.