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Ford returns to Formula One in partnership with Red Bull

The American automaker dominated F1 in the late 1960s and 1970s as an engine manufacturer with Cosworth

In this file photo taken on May 2, 2003, Italian Jordan-Ford driver Giancarlo Fisichella steers his car in the pits of the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona before the Catalunya Formula One Grand Prix of Spain.
In this file photo taken on May 2, 2003, Italian Jordan-Ford driver Giancarlo Fisichella steers his car in the pits of the Montmelo racetrack near Barcelona before the Catalunya Formula One Grand Prix of Spain.LOIC VENANCE (AFP)

Ford will return to Formula One as the engine provider for Red Bull Racing in a partnership announced Friday that begins with immediate technical support this season and engines in 2026.

Red Bull powertrains and Ford will partner on the development of a hybrid power unit that will supply engines to both Red Bull and AlphaTauri when new F1 regulations begin in 2026.

The American automaker dominated F1 in the late 1960s and 1970s as an engine manufacturer with Cosworth and Ford is the third most successful engine maker in F1 history with 10 constructors’ championships and 13 drivers’ championships.

Ford, which owned and ran the Jaguar F1 team, left F1 in 2004 when Jaguar was sold and became Red Bull Racing. Ford was lured back to F1, where it competed for 38 years until it pulled out in 2004, by F1′s focus on sustainable racing and explosion in popularity throughout North America.

Ford is the first American engine supplier to return to the F1 as the series is set to race five times this year in North America, with three of those races in the United States. General Motors has announced a partnership with Andretti Global to be its engine supplier if Andretti gets an F1 team.

“The numbers globally are enormous for Formula One,” Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, told The Associated Press. “Especially in the United States, where the growth and diversity of the fans is enormous. That’s important for us. We don’t want to just race and learn technology. We need to do that. We must do that. But we also must be able to connect with fans.

“With Red Bull and AlphaTauri, that’s exactly what we will be able to do.”

The F1 2026 rule changes call for the current twin-turbo V6 engines to run on sustainable fuel and be fitted with hybrid components. Red Bull Powertrains originally had a deal with Porsche that fell apart last season and Red Bull has been developing its own power unit for the new regulations.

Red Bull will continue to race with unbranded Honda power units until 2026, but Ford will begin with immediate technical assistance and then supply Ford engines when the new regulations begin.

Ford was lured back to F1, where it competed for 38 years until it pulled out in 2004, by F1′s focus on sustainable racing and explosion in popularity throughout North America.

Ford has split itself into two divisions, one to focus solely on electric vehicles and the other to handle internal combustion engines. Last year Ford laid off about 3,000 white-collar workers to help fund the multi-billion dollar transition to EVs. The company is acquiring battery minerals and setting up partnerships to build EV batteries.

It has announced three new battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee. Ford expects to be able to produce electric vehicles at a rate of 600,000 per year by late this year, and hit a manufacturing rate of over 2 million per year by the end of 2026.

“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.”

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