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Red Bull announced Friday during its 2023 season launch in New York City that Red Bull Powertrains will be partnering with Ford, beginning in ’26.
The two will work on the next-gen hybrid power unit, which will be supplied to both Red Bull and sister program AlphaTauri. However, it’ll be a technical strategic partnership between Red Bull Powertrains and the American manufacture as the Milton Keynes-based crew works to create its first in-house engine and Ford provides their expertise.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the partnership came together rather quickly as Ford’s “commitment” and “enthusiasm” was evident. The Milton Keynes-based team had been open to a partnership, previously having “exploratory” talks with Porsche about the 2026 project.
On Friday, F1 President and CEO welcomed Ford back into the fold.
“The news today that Ford is coming to Formula 1 from 2026 is great for the sport and we are excited to see them join the incredible automotive partners already in Formula 1,” he said in a statement. “Ford is a global brand with an incredible heritage in racing and the automotive world and they see the huge value that our platform provides with over half a billion fans around the world.”
Ford has a lengthy history in Formula One, one of its shining moments being the Cosworth DFV that’s widely considered one of the best designed engines in F1. However, the American manufacturer hasn’t been on the grid since 2004, when it sold Jaguar to Red Bull. The American manufacturer ultimately provides a solution for an area Red Bull was “lacking as a standalone independent.”
“We’ll be looking to utilize expertise wherever possible. Ford have been very supportive in that, to say, ‘Hey, we’re investing heavily in EV.’ And of course, that becomes a big part of what we’re doing,” Horner says. “So any common technologies that we can benefit from. All the research and development that Ford are obviously conducting in the battery cell area. It has an absolute relevance to what we’re doing in Formula One with the new generation of engines.
“That’s something that we were previously lacking as a standalone independent, but now with that partnership, it opens those possibilities up to us.”
Red Bull Powertrains is a “huge undertaking,” Horner says, describing it as “a startup.” The facility was built in 55 weeks, and they brought in “a brand new group of people together, some of the a lot of experience, some from rival teams. We’ve introduced them into the Red Bull culture.”
Even with the partnership, operations will remain in Milton Keynes as they put together Red Bull Ford engines.
At a 10,000-foot view, Formula One will now see an American manufacturer joining forces with part of an energy drink company, competing in 2026 alongside names with storied histories in motorsports.
“2026 is still a while away, but, you know, the work already starts on potential areas of synergy,” Horner says. “And of course, for us as an independent engine manufacturer, to have the ability to benefit from an OEM’s experience, it puts us in good stead against the competitors that we’re going to be going against, whether it be the VW group or Mercedes or Ferrari.”