Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says it became clear early in their negotiations with Ford how keen the American car-making giant was to return to Formula 1 with them.
Horner recalled his initial meeting with Ford CEO Jim Farley, who arrived wearing a Red Bull driver cap. “It really started in the autumn of last year,” Horner told a Financial Times conference.
“Everything happened very quickly because I heard that Ford were contemplating a re-entry into Formula 1 and we were looking for a partner in this new project for the engine that we’re producing for 2026. So on the way to to Brazil, I went via Detroit. I met Bill Ford and and Jim Farley.
“I suppose when Jim walked in, in a Sergio Perez cap, to the first meeting, it felt like it was going to get off to a good start.”
The F1 team and automaker quickly decided they were well-placed to work together, said Horner.
“We had a great meeting. Sometimes you can tell just from the get-go if the feeling is right. Ford were keen to come back into the sport and were impressed with what we’re doing.
“They had technology that we could only only dream about [because of] their whole shift towards electrification and the investment that they’re making, so for us it was very natural, a very easy partnership to bring together. And already we’re seeing some of the some of the fruits of that in the engine development that we’re conducting.”
Red Bull established its own engine design and production facility in 2021 after Honda, which developed its current power units, announced its plans to leave F1. The new Red Bull Powertrains division has begun work on their new engines for 2026, when F1 will increase the units’ electrical power generation and switch to what it calls a fully sustainable fuel.
While Horner believes the team is well-placed to handle the combustion engine portion of the new power unit, he said Ford’s expertise on the electrical side will be invaluable.
“Ford and Jim really came to us and said, look, you guys are the specialists, get going, get on with it and if there is anything that we can help with, we’re here to help and assist.
“Making a bespoke combustion engine under Formula 1 regulations with fully sustainable fuel, that’s something that the skill set of people that we have are very confident in. But the the cell technology, which is going to represent 50% of the power of these cars moving forward, is something that that we have very little knowledge in.
“So I think that’s where Ford, particularly in the electrification, are going to play a key role in helping us to deliver in 2026.”
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