Red Bull’s two Formula 1 teams will use Ford-branded engines from 2026 as part of a collaboration between the American manufacturer and Red Bull Powertrains, which has now been officially announced after the news leaked yesterday.
Following discussions with Porsche and Honda, Red Bull’s decision means Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri will use engines that will carry the Ford name and will also include technical input from Ford.
The new deal runs until at least 2030.
Ford’s F1 return and the deal with Red Bull were announced ahead of a livery reveal for Red Bull’s 2023 F1 car, the RB19, in New York.
It reunites two organisations that have an intertwined F1 history. Red Bull held a majority stake in Sauber that began when it was Ford’s works team in 1995, and it was the Ford-owned Jaguar team that Red Bull bought to create what is now Red Bull Racing.
Red Bull set up a new division to build its own F1 engine for the first as it planned for life beyond current partner Honda, which formally withdrew from F1 at the end of 2021 and is assisting Red Bull to the end of the current engine rules in 2025.
Major investment has gone into the new Powertrains facility at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes campus and it is kitted out to build the combustion engine but has always been expected to need third-party support for the hybrid system.
That is where Ford says it will have direct involvement, which will elevate the deal beyond just a branding exercise – such as Red Bull has had in the past with the likes of Tag Heuer and Aston Martin, when it used Renault engines.
The opportunity to partner Red Bull Powertrains presented Ford with an F1 project it can be at the centre of, and contribute to, without the expense or expertise required to go it alone.
As for Red Bull, the deal bolsters its nascent Powertrains division’s financial and marketing power by bringing in a manufacturer with a global profile and, significantly, a huge footprint in the United States, where F1 has made big gains in recent years.
It was never envisaged that Red Bull Powertrains would be dependent on a partnership with an automotive manufacturer, but conversations were held with Porsche and Honda before Ford.
Team principal Christian Horner said collaborating with an OEM would be acceptable as long as it was on Red Bull’s terms, which Ford appears to have met by making a financial commitment and a technical contribution while allowing Red Bull to retain ultimate control.
By comparison, Porsche wanted to buy a stake in Red Bull’s F1 operation, while a hybrid-only input is thought to have been too little for Honda – although it also hadn’t even decided to commit to an F1 return yet, even though it has registered its interest in the 2026 rules with the FIA.