F1 rumours: Ford considering return with Red Bull link-up mooted

Jamie Woodhouse
The Ford badge. 2008.

Image of the car brand Ford. 2008.

Ford are reportedly giving thought to a Formula 1 return, which could see them unite with the buyer of their past team.

Formula 1 will introduce a new breed of power units from the 2026 season, these set to have a greater dependence on electrical power compared to the current PUs, while the Internal Combustion Engine will run on fully-sustainable fuel.

These plans have already tempted Porsche and Audi to publicly put their interest in these regulations on record, Audi going on to announce a partnership with Sauber which will see the Swiss team, currently branded as Alfa Romeo, become an Audi works team from 2026.

Porsche meanwhile are still assessing their options after an attempt to partner with Red Bull and buy into Red Bull Technologies fell through.

And according to a report from Motorsport.com, Ford are among the manufacturers looking at Formula 1, with Red Bull an option being explored.

Ford’s previous Formula 1 involvement did not amount to much success. The American manufacturer purchased Stewart Grand Prix in 1999 and rebranded the team to reflect their Jaguar brand, serving as Ford’s F1 works team.

Scoring only two podiums, Ford, who also saw Jordan powered by Ford-Cosworth engines in 2003 and 2004, would sell their works team to Red Bull, allowing Red Bull Racing to take their place on the grid from 2005.

Motorsport.com state that Ford have been re-alerted to Formula 1 by the series’ popularity surge in the United States, and as they reportedly are not interested in a works team or power unit of their own at this stage, Red Bull are seen as the option to assess.

The report claims that Ford are not looking for a stake in the Red Bull operation like Porsche were, or a say in the development of their power unit, with the marketing benefit being of interest to Ford.

After Honda’s official exit from F1 at the end of 2021, Red Bull Powertrains was formed to debut its first fully fledged power unit from 2026, with Honda continuing to manufacture Red Bull’s PUs until then.

Honda too are in the mix for a potential official return to Formula 1 from 2026.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner has spoken previously about a partner for Red Bull Powertrains not being a “prerequisite”, but something that will be considered if that partner can bring something valuable to the table.

“We are fully focused on a Red Bull power unit, and if there was a like-minded partner that could contribute something to the project, then of course you would have to absolutely consider that,” said Horner. “But it’s not a prerequisite.

“We will be the only team other than Ferrari to have engine and chassis all on one campus under one roof.

“We believe that for the long-term competitiveness of the team, it is absolutely the right thing to be doing. And of course, there are other opportunities it presents as well.”

Speaking to reporters, including PlanetF1.com, about Red Bull Powertrains’ entrance from 2026, Horner said: “As a newcomer for 2026, Red Bull Powertrains has entered, and it’s an exciting moment for the group, for the company.

“A new challenge to take on and a lot to do between now and 2026.”

Why Ford and Red Bull can benefit

Perhaps still scarred from the now distant past of that stint in Formula 1 between 2000-04, the route back into Formula 1 which Ford are reportedly considering could serve as the ideal way to enjoy a Formula 1 experience which feels productive.

Porsche of course fell when they tried to clear the hurdle of a degree of control in Red Bull Technologies, but in Ford’s case, they can leave Red Bull to get on with everything in the independent way which they feel is part of their DNA, while Ford enjoy the benefits of having their brand name associated with the team’s operation.

Although this will be a new venture for Red Bull, the team has had plenty of success in the racing side of F1 as five-time Constructors’ champs, plus six Drivers’ titles, so one would back the team to get the hang of these new power units too, especially after investing so heavily into the facilities and recruiting key personnel from rivals Mercedes.

With the Mercedes power unit having enjoyed relentless success in the turbo-hybrid era, taking the team to eight Constructors’ titles in a row between 2014-21, Red Bull will certainly be bringing in a lot of knowhow.

Plus, Ford can be on-hand to lend technical support to Red Bull, as although these power units are new, Ford are certainly no rookies in the world of motorsport, or new to Red Bull, the pair working together currently in the World Rally Championship. It sounds like a winning combination.

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