Ford returns to Formula 1

Ford wants to compete in Formula 1 again

Patrick Tambay on the road in a racing car with a Ford engine at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1986: 40 years later, the US company’s cars are supposed to be doing their laps again.

(Photo: imago sport photo service)

Dusseldorf The US car company Ford returns to Formula 1. This was announced by the second largest American automaker on Friday at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn. The Red Bull racing team will be the cooperation partner in the world’s most important racing class. Last year, Porsche actually wanted to enter into a partnership with Red Bull. But the negotiations failed at the time.

Ford withdrew from Formula 1 in 2004 and sold its then Jaguar racing team to the beverage company Red Bull. Officially, the withdrawal of the American car manufacturer was justified with the costs. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ford had dominated Formula 1 with its engines.

The re-entry of the US group into the global racing circuit is planned for 2026. Then a decisive change in the engine regulations in Formula 1 is on the agenda: Only sustainably produced fuels (“e-fuels”) may be used during the race. In addition, a larger electric motor is prescribed as an additional unit. As a result, the Formula 1 cars should be climate and environmentally friendly.

Ford becomes an engine supplier

Ford will provide the combined combustion engine and electric unit to the Red Bull racing team as an engine supplier in the future. “This new engine concept is extremely interesting for us,” said company circles on Friday. Ford can count on a positive marketing effect for its production vehicles.

Audi had argued similarly last year. The Ingolstadt Volkswagen subsidiary will also enter Formula 1 in 2026 because of the new engine regulations. However, Ford will not participate in the Red Bull racing team.

The US car company did not provide any information on what entry into Formula 1 will cost the group. The development of a racing engine is usually a very expensive project. According to industry circles, Ford must expect an amount in the mid three-digit million range.

>> Read about this: New mix of combustion engine and electric drive: Formula 1 wants to become greener

The return to Formula 1 is also largely supported by Ford CEO Jim Farley. The CEO of the American US group is a racing enthusiast and also takes part in car races himself. Farley also wants to use the Formula 1 commitment to drive sales of electric cars in North America. Electromobility has not yet established itself as strongly in the USA as in Europe and especially not as strongly as in Germany.

However, the decision to enter Formula 1 comes at a difficult time for Ford. The European subsidiary in Cologne is currently working on a new, far-reaching restructuring plan that could cut several thousand jobs at the German headquarters in Cologne alone. Above all, the development should be affected because Ford wants to summarize this area more in the US home market for cost reasons. Ford is expected to announce more details about the new European restructuring program in February.

Ford Europe has to save heavily

Those responsible for Ford are aware that the Formula 1 commitment is currently very sensitive against the background of the new savings plans at the European subsidiary. In corporate circles it is therefore pointed out that no additional funds would have to be raised for the return to the world’s most important racing class. The US group shifts money from other areas and partly refrains from further commitments in sports.

>> Read here: That’s why the talks between Porsche and Red Bull failed

With the Formula 1 cooperation between Ford and Red Bull, the door has finally been shut for Porsche for a possible cooperation with the racing team of the Austrian beverage company. In the late summer of last year, talks between the Volkswagen subsidiary and Red Bull surprisingly failed. Before that, the signing of the contracts was actually just a formality, Porsche and Red Bull had come very close.

However, the VW subsidiary also wanted to participate in the Red Bull racing team and not just be the simple engine supplier for the beverage manufacturer. This would have given the Stuttgart car manufacturer a stronger presence in Formula 1. As a pure engine supplier, this is much more difficult to do. But Red Bull ultimately rejected Porsche participation. With Ford, the beverage company has now found a cooperation partner who accepts the conditions of the currently most successful Formula 1 racing team. Red Bull won the Drivers’ World Championship in 2021 and 2022.

In addition to Porsche, Ford and Audi, other car manufacturers are also interested in entering Formula 1 because of the new engine regulations. General Motors (GM) is also considering setting up its own racing team. The largest US car manufacturer would probably use the GM brand Cadillac.

More: New mix of combustion engine and electric drive: Formula 1 wants to become greener

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