Ahead of Red Bull’s F1 2023 car launch in New York on Friday, speculation was rife regarding Ford’s return to the sport having left it just under 20 years ago.

The “strategic partnership” between Red Bull and Ford will run from 2026 to 2030, with the American giant providing expertise in areas including battery cell and electric motor technology as well as power unit control software and analytics” and “combustion engine development”.

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Ford will be involved in the development of the 350kW electric motor and the production of a new combustion engine in collaboration with Red Bull Powertrains, in line with the 2026 regulations and the ability to run on sustainable fuels.

Unlike Red Bull’s previous deals with Tag Heuer or Aston Martin, Ford will have direct involvement in the development of their power unit.

As a result, the engine project will now be known as Red Bull Ford Powertrains.

Red Bull did hold talks with both Honda and Porsche, however, an agreement couldn’t be reached.

The deal with Ford will give their new engine development important financial and technical expertise, while their American background will no doubt benefit Red Bull from a marketing perspective.

Speaking of the news, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: “It’s fantastic to be welcoming Ford back into Formula 1 through this partnership. As an independent engine manufacturer to have the ability to benefit from an OEM’s experience like Ford puts us in good stead against the competition. 

“They are a manufacturer rich in motoring history that spans generations. From Jim Clark to Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, the lineage speaks for itself.  For us as Red Bull Powertrains to open the next chapter of that dynasty, as Red Bull Ford, is tremendously exciting. 

“2026 is still a while a way but for us the work already starts as we look to a new future and a continued evolution of Oracle Red Bull Racing.”

Ford’s reaction

Ford’s executive chair, Bill Ford said: "This is the start of a thrilling new chapter in Ford's motorsports story that began when my great-grandfather won a race that helped launch our company.

"Ford is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford's long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world's most visible stages."

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali added:  "The news today that Ford is coming to F1 from 2026 is great for the sport and we are excited to see them join the incredible automotive partners already in F1

"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. Our commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and to introduce sustainable fuels in the F1 cars from 2026 is also an important reason for their decision to enter F1.

"We believe that our sport provides the opportunity and reach unlike any other and we cannot wait for the Ford logo to be racing round F1's iconic circuits from 2026."

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes the new engine regulations for 2026 have been vindicated as they've been able to attract Ford back to F1.

“There are few manufacturers who have such a celebrated motorsport history as Ford, so to see them coming back to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is excellent news,” Ben Sulayem said.

“It further underlines the success of the 2026 Power Unit Regulations that have at their heart a commitment to both sustainability and spectacle, and of course having more interest from the United States is important for the continued growth of the world’s top motorsport category. “

Ford's rich history in F1

Ford have an impressive history in F1, sitting just behind Ferrari and Mercedes in the all-time wins for an engine manufacturer.

Their last victory came at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Giancarlo Fisichella won for Jordan.

Ford's main bulk of success came with their legendary Cosworth DFV, which dominated the late 1960s and 1970s.

Ford have won 10 constructors' titles and 13 drivers' titles as an engine supplier between 1968 and 1994.