Christian Horner lifts lid on Ford relationship as influence cranks up

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner and Ford CEO Jim Farley, CEO. February, 2023 in New York City.

Christian Horner and Ford CEO Jim Farley, CEO. February, 2023 in New York City.

Christian Horner said Ford are “bringing more and more to the table” as the two parties prepare for their 2026 partnership.

Ford will make its return to the world of Formula 1 in 2026 when it partners with Red Bull’s power unit department which will be called Red Bull Ford Powertrains.

The move for Red Bull to make engines in-house came after Honda originally opted to withdraw from the sport, only to then reverse that decision under a new CEO.

But Red Bull had already laid down the groundwork to produce their own engines and at the launch of the RB19 in New York earlier this year, they confirmed a long-suspected rumour that Ford would be joining their project.

While the majority of the operation will still be conducted by Red Bull, CEO and team principal Horner revealed they have a weekly meeting with their Ford counterparts and that the relationship has been “very, very conducive” so far.

“I think that where they bring a lot of interesting knowledge is the investment they’re making in their electrification and cell technology,” he said, as per Autosport.

“Combustion is niche to F1. But I really think on the electrical side we’re meeting with the Ford guys on a weekly basis, and seeing some really interesting developments.

“I think as our relationship develops from a technology perspective, they’re bringing more and more to the table, which is really quite interesting. So it’s been a really positive interaction.

“They’re not trying to tell us how to run our business or, they’re not involved from a shareholding perspective. And it’s been a very, very conducive relationship so far.”

Ford had also been drawing on the services of Daniel Ricciardo who acted as a consultant on the sporting side of things during his stint as Red Bull third driver.

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s power unit operation is close to being fully operational with work still to do on the manufacturing and electrical departments. Horner described their Milton Keynes home as “the biggest campus in F1.”

“We’re now on a 50-acre site comprising of 18 buildings,” the sport’s longest serving team principal said.

“So the team has grown, it’s advanced. It’s not a Norman Foster building. There’s no glass and water here. But it has to be practical.

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“And I think what we’ve developed through the chassis side of the business and are now replicating on the engine, and on the advanced technology side, is a working facility and one that is interactive for the employees.”

The Red Bull-Ford deal was put together by Horner and Ford CEO Jim Farley but the former is not concerned that any change of management could scupper their plans.

“You can never predict that far ahead,” he said. “We have an agreement till 2030. Bill Ford was one of the main drivers behind this agreement. So it’s from the Ford family, as well as Jim Farley’s enthusiasm for the project.

“So that gives us reassurance, and I think the fact that Ford had been involved in F1 before, they know how complex and complicated it is.

“They’ve pretty much said, ‘Look, it is a specialist subject for you guys. We’re here to help so let us know where we can assist.’”

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