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Ford gives revealing update on 2026 F1 return preparations

The much anticipated tie up between Ford and Red Bull is gathering pace ahead of 2026

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Ford has revealed progress on its power unit as it prepares to return to the sport with Red Bull in 2026. 

Ford CEO Jim Farley speaking at the 2023 Red Bull season launch alongside Red Bull Team Principal and CEO Christian Horner: Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)
Ford CEO Jim Farley speaking at the 2023 Red Bull season launch alongside Red Bull Team Principal and CEO Christian Horner: Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

Almost exactly a year ago, Ford sensationally announced it was returning to F1. The American engine giant confirmed that it would enter a partnership with Red Bull to develop the new power units for 2026, to much fanfare. Ford is one of six manufacturers to sign up to the new regulations.

Ford last raced in F1 as a works operation in 2004, powering the Jaguar team. Poor results during its tenure on the grid led to Ford selling the team, ironically, to Red Bull Racing for the 2005 season.

Twelve months later, Ford has given an update on preparations. Speaking to formula1.com at Ford’s 2024 season launch, Ford President and CEO Jim Farley says work with Red Bull Chief Technical Officer technical genius Adrian Newey has begun:  “I had a chance to spend a lot of time with the team in Milton Keynes and with Adrian Newey”.

“I think we’re on track. 2026, even though it sounds like a long way away, we have a lot of work to do on the powertrain, but I’m really happy with the progress. I wish I could tell you more, but I would say we’re on track!”

Why has Ford returned?

When asked why Ford is returning to the sport, Farley said the focus on sustainable fuel and the opportunities for technical transfer were the driving force:

“We’re going back to F1 in a way that we haven’t in the past,” he commented. “It turns out that the best aerodynamics in the world are in F1, the best telemetry, the best digital diagnostics, and we need all those things for electric and digital cars.

“It’s actually going back to the ‘70s with a pure tech transfer. This is not like owning our team, we’re going there to literally transfer technology.

Expanding on the transfer opportunities available, Farley focused on battery power and R&D exchange: “We can offer battery tech for them, because in ’26 they’re going to go to like 50% electric and they need a discharge battery, and we do that in NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) for example.

“On the other hand, we can get telemetry, digital diagnosis, as well as aero, which we can put in our production electric cars to make the batteries smaller.

“It’s a lot of R&D and they are the best in the world in a lot of these technologies. We need them desperately as the car business changes. It’s literally like going back to where we were all those years ago [with] tech transfer.”

Farley also outlined his ambitious expectations for the partnership: “We’ve got the best frickin’ team, it’s that simple. “We’ve got the best drivers, we’ve got the best technical support, we’ve got the best of Ford around the globe to support them, but the powertrain team that they’re building in Milton Keynes is absolutely top-notch.”

Via a video link at Ford’s 2024 season launch, Red Bull F1 CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner echoed Farley’s positive thoughts on the fledgling partnership: “The last 12 months have been incredibly exciting because we’ve been introducing the various departments within Red Bull Powertrains and within Ford.”

“The exchange of ideas and technology has been fantastic on what is a brand-new set of regulations for 2026. From the executive level, right through to our engineers, everyone at Ford is committed to helping this team succeed.”

Feature Image Credit: Ford Media 

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