/ 11 February 2023

Ford returns to Formula One

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Revved up: Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez, Jim Farley, Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo at the Oracle Red Bull racing season launch in New York City. Photo: Getty Images

It’s been a bumpy road for Red Bull in securing a partner who’s in it for the long run and wants only partial involvement in operations with the tightly run Austrian team. But fear no longer. After the constant churn from the F1 rumour mill, the proverbial cat’s finally out of the bag. Ford is coming back to F1! This time it means business.

We only have to look at the shaky positioning of Honda over the years, swaying from all-out involvement to pulling out of F1 and then returning before continuing the threat of leaving and then leaving in 2021 (albeit still assisting Red Bull). But then, there was yet  another twist in the tale with Honda coming back in 2026. 

One grew tired just keeping up with the announcements. I can only imagine what the uncertainty must have been like at Red Bull and just how much it means having the security and might of Ford on board.

Recall that the Porsche deal broke down thanks to contractual issues that preceded the signing when the big machine from Stuttgart wanted a controlling interest in the team that prides itself on its smaller team ethos culture, all decisions being made by the team, free from corporate shenanigans linked to big takeovers like what could have been. No use crying over spilt milk, or should that be spilt energy drink?

So the deal is done, and the rumour is squashed. We can all move on now. 

As to the exact level of involvement, there’s no ICE (internal combustion engine) involvement, but there will be involvement from Ford in the battery cell and electronic motor technology, as well as power unit control software and data analytics. 

It has been two decades since Ford participated in F1. Ironically, that was with the Jaguar team Red Bull took over, which was owned by Ford. Funny how perfect this is in a 360 event. 

Will we see Max Verstappen in a Ranger Raptor, Stetson on the head, anytime soon, cruising on the streets of Monaco jamming some Garth Brooks? I don’t think so. He strikes me more as a Dolly Parton fan, but this intercontinental partnership does bode well for the sport beset on global inclusion and the world of motorsport, where there’s often a trickle-down effect. It’s a very good thing.

Having the big might of one of the world’s oldest motoring manufacturers gives a breath of fresh air to the Red Bull F1 team and Red Bull Technologies in its future as a stand-alone business. But don’t expect a Ford Fiesta ST return, only this time with Red Bull F1 livery. No, no, we’ve moved past that. But then again, you never know. Anything is possible.