F1: Ford reveals more details of Red Bull tech partnership | CAR Magazine

F1: Ford reveals more details of Red Bull tech partnership

Published: 10 June 2023 Updated: 10 June 2023

► Ford to join grid in 2026
► And will team up with Red Bull
► More details on the partnership

Earlier this year, Ford and Red Bull announced a new ‘long-term strategic technical partnership,’ and this weekend at Le Mans, Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports gave CAR more details about the collaboration. 

Although the partnership was initially focused around battery and power unit technology, the remit of the Red Bull and Blue Oval’s collaboration has continued to grow in less expected areas. And the sharing has been both ways, too. 

‘It was a relatively short list of the opportunities of what we [thought] would work,’ revealed Rushbrook. ‘But it seems like every week, we’re finding new things. Just as we learn more about the programme that’s already been going [at Red Bull Powertrains] and as they learn more about us and what we have.’ 

‘We’ve been to Milton Keynes many times already, and we’ve had them to Dunton and Dearborn,’ Rushbrook continued.  ‘And when they come and see the facilities that we have, they say “we can use that, we can use that.” So there’s just more and more projects building momentum.’ 

CAR also understands Ford is also exploring the expertise of Red Bull staff including a certain Adrian Newey. F1 will soon be a cornerstone of Ford’s motorsport strategy, and it seems as though there’ll be a range of race to road benefits from Milton Keynes too.

Everything else you need to know

Ford is returning to Formula One in 2026 – and it’ll be doing so with Red Bull. The move was confirmed in New York after weeks of intense speculation and will see the Blue Oval back in the sport after an absence of more than twenty years. You’d have to go back to the Jaguar team for Ford’s last dabble in F1. 

What’s the deal?

Red Bull and Ford are calling it a long-term strategic technical partnership, although it’s more complicated than that. Ford’s technical partnership is with Red Bull Powertrains – and both will work together to provide PUs for both the Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams from 2026. The deal kicks in just in time for the simpler, rejigged powertrain rules which will see a more powerful 350kW motor, sustainable fuels – and no MGU-H. It’ll run until at least 2030 and the company is officially being called Red Bull Ford Powertrains. 

What about Honda? 

After an acrimonious split from Renault, Red Bull finally found success in its last year of total Honda backing. Since then, Honda has leased the IP of its power units to Red Bull Powertrains or RBPT until 2025 – with RBPT to produce its own powertrains from 2026. 

However, the newly-formed Red Bull Powertrains has been on the look for partners ever since 2021. Honda hasn’t totally gone away either; this year’s success prompted Honda to step up its presence on the 2022 Red Bull. What’s more it was only a few months ago that Red Bull and Porsche pulled out of a possible partnership. The Ford talks obviously went a bit better. 

More confusing is Honda’s recent interest in the 2026 rules. Despite leaving at the end of 2021 season, the Japanese manufacturer has registered its interest in the new 2026 regulations – so it could end up racing against a Ford-powered Red Bull in a three years’ time.

Despite being less sophisticated, the powertrain new rules have ultimately proven to a draw for car makers; new entries Audi and Ford are now confirmed for the 2026 grid, with Honda also registering an interest in rejoining the sport. 

What’s in it for Ford? 

Ford’s name has been etched into Formula One history thanks to its Cosworth badge and legendary DFV block – but what’s in it for the Blue Oval in 2023? The reasons are likely two-fold. In addition to a place to develop electrified engine technology and sustainable fuels, F1’s recent growth in North America means it’s now even more of a viable space for advertising. There are now F1 races in Miami, Texas and soon Las Vegas – and all three have been partly driven by Drive to Survive’s success across the pond. 

‘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,’ said Stefano Domenicali, President, and CEO of Formula 1.  ‘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.’

Max Verstappen

‘Ford’s return to Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing is all about where we are going as a company – increasingly electric, software-defined, modern vehicles and experience,’ said Jim Farley, president and CEO of the Ford Motor Company. ‘F1 will be an incredible cost-effective platform to innovate, share ideas and technologies, and engage with tens of millions of new customers.’ 

Ford and Red Bull powertrains say they will be exploring the possibility of collaboration around ‘combustion engine development and key developments like battery cell and electric motor technology, power unit control software and analytics.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes