American car giant ‘considering’ F1 involvement after huge US growth
With Formula 1 booming and Cadillac plotting a route to the grid, US manufacturing giant Ford have admitted they are considering a return to motorsport’s pinnacle.
The world’s fifth-largest automobile producers are on a 19-year hiatus from F1, their badge last appearing on the grid in 2004 when Jordan and Nick Heidfeld were powered by Ford engines.
The American car giant has ploughed its resources into other corners of motorsport since, with a focus on endurance racing and rally. But if there was ever a good time for a Formula 1 comeback, it’s now.
Viewership figures have exploded Stateside, with an average of 1.21million fans tuning in for every Grand Prix last year. That’s 28 per cent more than the thrilling 2021 season, which itself saw a massive 54 per cent boom compared to 2020.
Formula 1 has responded with two more Grands Prix in the United States, with races in Miami and Las Vegas joining Texas’ event on the 2023 calendar. Then there is the small matter of Ford’s key US rival, General Motors, announcing F1 plans.
GM have backed Andretti’s bid to join the grid through their Cadillac brand, supplying the horsepower for a new all-American team to capitalise on the sport’s growth. The plans have been met with significant opposition by the established teams, fuelling a brewing war between F1 and the FIA.
Chief of Ford’s racing arm, Mark Rushbrook, knows the 119-year-old American manufacturer can no longer afford to ignore F1.
“Formula 1 is certainly strong and growing, both in the United States and globally,’ Rushbrook told Motorsport.com.
“What they have done well is create great racing and great competition. It’s still the pinnacle, but they’ve been able to reach new audiences with things like Drive to Survive.
“As a company we go racing for innovation, tech transfer, the learning opportunity, but also for marketing reasons as well. It’s shifted for sure, and it definitely requires consideration.”
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Asked whether General Motors’ plans will force Ford to respond, Rushbrook added: “Not necessarily. But it will be interesting to watch how that progresses, whether they will be successful in joining as an 11th team.”
Ford have already been linked with Red Bull for 2026, when a new breed of power unit regulations will put a greater emphasis on electrical power and enforce the use of fully sustainable fuel.
The development has already enticed Audi, with the German company set to turn Sauber into their works team in 2026. Porsche have also explored their options.
Addressing Ford’s links to a place on the grid in 2026, Rushbrook said: “We don’t comment on speculation, but it’s the same with all these series that are out there.
“It’s our responsibility to study them and understand them, and then make decisions on whether it makes sense or doesn’t make sense.
“Sustainable fuel definitely is something we’re interested in, but we’re already doing that in other series.”
Ford Cosworth are F1’s third-most successful engine supplier in history, behind Ferrari and Renault.
They have powered 10 Constructors’ Championships and 176 Grand Prix victories, with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jackie Stewart and Nelson Piquet winning titles with Ford power units.