Ford expect to go “first class to the top of the podium” in F1 return with Red Bull

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Ford has high expectations for its return to Formula 1 with Red Bull in two years’ time.

Red Bull achieved unprecedented success last year, winning all bar one of the 22 grands prix. Before the season began it confirmed it would develop a power unit for the new 2026 regulations in conjunction with Ford.

The manufacturer’s CEO Jim Farley said yesterday he is encouraged by the progress which has been made almost a year since the deal was announced.

“I had a chance to spend a lot of time with the team in Milton Keynes and and with [chief technical officer] Adrian Newey,” he said at Ford Motorsport’s season launch yesterday. “I think we’re on track.

“Even though [2026] sounds like a long way away, we have a lot of work to do on the powertrain, but I’m really happy with the progress. I wish I could tell you more, but I would say we’re on track.”

Red Bull has won the constructors’ championship for the last two years running and Max Verstappen clinched his third consecutive drivers’ title last year. Farley says Ford have “got the best freaking team, it’s that simple,” and has high expectations for them.

“We’ve got the best drivers, we’ve got the best technical support. We have the best of Ford and around the globe to support them. But the team, the powertrain team that they’re building in Milton Keynes is absolutely top notch. We are going first class to the very top of the podium.”

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Ford last competed in F1 in 2004 with its own team, run under the Jaguar brand, before selling it to Red Bull. Farley compared its coming return to its successful period as an engine supplier in the sixties and seventies, when its DFV dominated F1.

“The best aerodynamics in the world are in Formula 1, the best telemetry, the best digital diagnostics… and actually, we need all those things for electric and digital cars. So it’s actually going back to the seventies with a pure tech transfer.

“This is not like ‘our team’, we’re going there to literally transfer technology. We can offer battery tech for them because in ’26 we’re going to go to 50% electric [power] and they need high-discharge batteries. And we do that in NHRA, for example. And on the other hand, we can get telemetry, digital diagnosis as well as aero, which we can put in our production electric cars to make the batteries smaller.”

“It is a lot of R&D,” he added. “And they are the best in the world in a lot of these technologies and we need them desperately as the car business changed. So it’s literally going back to where we were all those years ago: tech transfer.”

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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...

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26 comments on “Ford expect to go “first class to the top of the podium” in F1 return with Red Bull”

  1. Uh oh, this sounds a bit Jaguar-esque again.

  2. Did he fire his guns into the air whilst doing a little dance too?

    1. +1. Was expecting a “Yahoo!” to finish his statement.

  3. Huh… High expectations. This doesn’t sound really good, not their team, just there for F1’s technology. Sounds like there’s one foot out the door ready to cut and run.

    That being said if their battery tech is as good as they’re claiming, Red Bull/Ford might work their way into a Mercedes situation with how they got their engine advantage.

    It’s a bit sus that R&D has begun on the engine while the car development is disallowed, they’d have to be thinking about packaging and how the car could be taking shape around the engine. Also, so much for budget caps.

    Sounds like what is happening in meeting rooms today is of more consequence than what will be happening on the track in 2 years time.

    1. The shape and size of the engines are pretty narrowly defined in the regulations, including the exact mounting positions. The whole document is over 80 pages long, just on the engines. It’s part of the reason some have labelled them ‘spec in all but name’; there’s not a whole lot of room for manufacturers to make a difference (and so also not a lot of room to fail like Honda did).

      1. +1
        Indeed, the ICE has been marginalized and the rules make it impossible for a new manufacturer to get it wrong the way Honda did back in 2015.

      2. Using length of the regulations to argue how restrictive they are is a bit disingenuous. If you have a look the ICE restrictions are only like 8 pages long. Thats inclusive of energy store and turbo.

        What adds to length are the materials, listed/non-listed/open status, and homologation status. You can see in that homologation chart there’s huge opportunity for development.

        Whoever calling it spec is pulling the wool over on someone, or having a laugh.

  4. “And on the other hand, we can get telemetry, digital diagnosis as well as aero, which we can put in our production electric cars to make the batteries smaller.”

    They want to use F1 aerodynamics to enable them to make road car batteries smaller? I mean… sure. Why not. An open wheel sedan should look cool. The rear wing can double as a bike rack!

    The over the top Americanisms are oozing out of this guy. Given recent political news, this seems to be what folks over there actually like. Yikes! While I do hope they do well, if only for F1 to have a bunch of competitive teams, it would also be kinda fun to see this American bluster go up against the antics of Marko and Horner in a ‘no it’s your fault’-game. It’d be guaranteed comedy.

    1. Comment of the year !

    2. It matches the same barf they produce leading up to american grandprix’. Over the top, lot of it clearly fake and a lot of wannabe-ism. Everything for the show but no real foundation.

    3. Judging how well their relationship with Renault went you might be right. It will produce quite some fireworks.

  5. It’s going to be interesting to see who develops the best power unit for 2026. Red Bull powertrains is a total uknown so for Ford CEO to make a bold prediction at this stage, I would say is more than a little premature.

    The most recent history would suggest Mercedes and Honda are the ones to keep an eye on for 2026… Ferrari tend to stumble far too often and Renault are always playing catch up. One team who could spring an unexpected surprise is Audi. They’ve shown to be more than competent in other racing categories.

    1. Gavin Campbell
      18th January 2024, 15:51

      The Audi Engine may be pretty decent – wouldn’t be totally unexpected. However we are not going to know as the cronically under-funded Kick Team Sauber are not going to suddenly shoot up the grid for 2026. I don’t see them doing much of anything to catch Red Bull/Ferrari/Merc/Aston/McLaren on the chassis side (and look at the long term investment that McLaren and Aston have made to get themselves back into that conversation).

      At the moment the best that Audi can hope for is to beat Alpine Renault and that Williams and whatever Alpha Tauri will be called by then dont push past them on the chassis side.

      I suspect it might be an all american last place shootout between Andretti and Haas in 2026.

  6. Sounds very much Jaguar 2000s.

    I love the transfer technology talk too. Looking forward to the electric, ground effect Ford Fiesta!

    1. His comment are a bit over the top, but overall he’s probably right. Car battery technologies are in an early development stage, which means that development done in F1 may again be (partially) relevant for the retail market.

      The aero part is a bit fun, but you have to say he’s just adding it at the end… A bit marketing, but at the end of the day, that’s the main business of F1…

      At the end of the day, it’s nice to see Ford back in F1.

      1. “At the end of the day, it’s nice to see Ford back in F1.”

        Yes it is. Reading what Gary Anderson says about the Jaguar years, hopefully they have had time to reflect….

  7. I don’t trust anyone that overuses the word “literally” hehe

  8. Ford, a company with literally ONE electric car in its lineup for the past 2 years, wants to do a battery tech “technology transfer” to a company that’s already been “on the top step of the podium” with battery tech in its cars for a number of years?

    Go home, Ford – you’re drunk…. And so hideously far behind the rest of the car market it’s embarrassing.

  9. hmmm, sloping shoulders and a bit of a weight problem, who does this remind me of? Naming no sons-of being a brand ambassador on worldwide media

    What’s going on over there?? I was watching a programme about Egyptian pyramids and reading how that empire fell into decline and totally disappeared, so now I really hope Ford can have some of their success again with some real quality engineering, more than this total rubbish about technology transfer, that belongs in a court with Donald

  10. I must admit that when Honda became the engine supplier to Red Bull I didn’t believe Doctor Marko when he said the Honda engine was fantastic. Nevertheless, I can’t see Ford making a better OEM engine than Renault, who have been attempting to make an F1 winning engine for more than a decade.

    1. who have been attempting to make an F1 winning engine for more than a decade.

      Renault engines have won – on a quick count – 13 GPs since 2014. This is not an impressive score, but the likes of Toyota, Peugeot, and others never even broke their duck.
      Renault are 4th in the all-time ranking of GP wins per engine.
      Contrary to Ford, they achieved their wins with their own engines, not with someone alse’s engine that they then badge as their own.

      Sure, they are lightyears removed from the dominant force they were in the 90s, but their legacy is not to be discounted.

  11. This “could be” interesting…

  12. Its a redbull e gine, based on honda tech and produced by redbull. With a badge on it. In this case sponsor name is ford. Bit like alfa romeo , while the engine was ferrari

    1. Yes, but the electric motor and such are where Ford is supposed to bring something extra that Red Bull cannot do on its own. Or doesn’t care to invest in. Either way, the fact that Red Bull can quite comfortably make their own ICE is just another sign of how restricted that part of the sport has become.

  13. maybe ford offer rbr away to skirt the budget constraints and the ire of the fia bean counters.

  14. I don’t know if all the friable plastic bits from an ecoboost donk will fit (if Ford have a leg up on the competition in BEV batteries Farley is pretty good at poker).

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