Ford considered but rejected returning as a full F1 team as it “didn’t feel right”

2026 F1 season

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Ford considered and rejected the possibility of returning to Formula 1 as a full constructor.

The American car manufacturer, which confirmed today it will return to F1 with Red Bull in 2026, also held discussions with some of its rival teams and prospective new entrants to the series.

“We studied all options for sure,” Ford Performance Motorsports global director Mark Rushbrook told media including RaceFans. “In many ways it was a long journey in terms of what started.”

Ford last participated in F1 in 2004 as the owner of the Jaguar team which it sold to Red Bull at the end of that year. It began evaluating options to return over two years ago.

Once the carmaker began looking for a way into F1, several hopeful partners made approaches to them. “We definitely took our time to listen to a lot of people,” said Rushbrook. “As soon as they knew Ford had some interest for at least consideration, a lot of people came forward, whether it was an existing team or prospective teams, to see if there was an opportunity for us to partner with them. We have approached some teams, but initially none of them seemed right.”

Ford also considered going it alone, as it did after it purchased the Stewart team in 1999 and branded it as Jaguar. “Coming back in as a full factory, owning a team, as we have done in the past, also didn’t feel right because we wanted to come in very strategically to contribute where it made sense and to also learn where it made sense.”

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Red Bull had explored a possible tie-up with Porsche, but announced in September last year the discussions had been terminated. Talks between Red Bull and Ford progressed rapidly as the manufacturer swiftly realised they had found the right partner, Rushbrook explained.

“With Red Bull, it was very quickly apparent that what they were looking for in a partner is something that we could bring and what we were looking for in a partner is something that they could bring. So while that started in the latter half of 2022, it went very quickly in the sense that we knew it was the right partnership from the very beginning.

“We had more discussions to get into more detail and here we are today, able to announce it. But to us it’s very important to come into the sport at the right time and in the right way with the right partner. And we believe we’re doing that on both counts.”

Ford also discounted the possibility of teaming up with another power unit manufacturer, said Rushbrook.

“It definitely is right to partner with somebody like Red Bull Powertrains because they’re not a rival auto manufacturer. It would not have felt right or appropriate to partner with another auto manufacturer together on the power unit. There certainly were some opportunities to do that, but that wasn’t the right way for us.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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5 comments on “Ford considered but rejected returning as a full F1 team as it “didn’t feel right””

  1. That’s understandable given the history of fresh works entries into Formula 1, of which Ford especially may still be aware.

  2. “Didn’t feel right” sounds a lot like “would be bloody expensive and a good way to be in the midfield for them next five years”.

  3. Much cheaper to rebadge the Honda engine. Smart move. Hopefully we get Cadillac as well.

  4. No big surprise, they have to see what GM do first.

  5. *cough* anti-dillution fee *cough*

Comments are closed.