‘Step backwards’: Ford reveal why they’re entering Formula 1

Ford are set to return to Formula 1 in 2026, after leaving the sport at the end of the 2004 season.

Ford Motorsport global director Mark Rushbrook has revealed that the American manufacturer wouldn’t have announced a return to Formula 1 had the sport not planned to introduce the new engine regulations in 2026, with Americans now set to be a technical partner of Red Bull.

It was announced last Friday at the launch of Red Bull’s 2023 car that they’d be entering a technical engine partnership with Ford from 2026, the first season of the new power unit regulations.

Ford are set to support Red Bull Powertrains from 2026, with the Austrians set to power themselves when the new regs are introduced.

Interestingly, Ford’s return to the sport will come 22 years after they sold the Jaguar F1 Team to Red Bull, who joined the grid in 2005.

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The new partnership will also see Ford supply AlphaTauri with engines from 2026, as part of their deal with the Austrians and their power unit department.

It’s not just Ford who are huge fans of the 2026 engine regulations, with several manufacturers having shown an interest in joining the grid.

Audi have already been confirmed for 2026, with General Motors also looking likely to join the grid, through their partnership with Andretti Autosport.

2026 will see the sport move in the direction of sustainable energy, with an increased MGU-K set to produce more electrical power, whilst the MGU-H will be dropped.

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The sport will also continue to use more sustainable fuels, with E10 fuels having recently been introduced.

Given the heap of changes, Rushbrook was asked at Red Bull’s launch last Friday in New York City if Ford would be returning to the sport had the engine regulations remained the same as they are now, with the global director admitting that it would’ve been off the cards due to being a “step backwards”.

“No, I don’t think we would,” Rushbrook told media, including RacingNews365.com.

“If it was a carry over power unit without this opportunity, it would have been a step backwards for us.

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“100% we needed to have [the technical link-up with Red Bull].

“We don’t just go racing as a marketing exercise and, especially in Formula 1, being the stage that it is, the opportunity to get that technical learning was important for us.

“Without it, we wouldn’t have done it.”