Ford was responsible for Michael Schumacher's first championship win, and that's not the only bright spot in its F1 history.
Last week, Red Bull and Ford confirmed what we had suspected for a few months. It's teaming up to become Red Bull Ford (we're sure Christian Horner had naming rights) in 2026 as the new engine regulations kick in. For the most part, it's seen as a brilliant engineering and marketing move. Red Bull is immediately elevated to the favorite American team (sorry, Haas), and Ford gets to sell EVs on the back of F1 victories. A Ford Mustang Mach-E may have nothing in common with the F1 car, but the correlation alone is enough to sell thousands of vehicles.
We noticed some commentators on our website not understanding why it's such a big deal, and we get it. The Drive to Survive generation had no idea Ford was involved in F1 to varying degrees until 2004 when it sold Jaguar Racing. Ford used to own Jag for our younger readers out there. Guess who they sold the team to? Yup, it was a new upstart called Red Bull Racing.
We firmly believe that nobody has the right to gatekeep F1. CarBuzz welcomes all the new fans because F1 was on the verge of dying out until Liberty Media turned the ship around. You could sit back and complain about all the new viewers, or you can take the friendlier route and just be happy that it's now socially acceptable to discuss F1 without being labeled as the weird person who won't shut up about that glorious overtake Mika Hakkinen pulled on Schumacher at the 2000 Belgian Grand Prix. We include the video below because you should always watch it when the opportunity arises.
With that in mind, we decided to do a deep dive into Ford's most significant contributions to Formula 1 over the years.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Schumacher started his F1 career with Jordan at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. Eddie Jordan had a keen eye for talent and employed the young unknown after one of the team's drivers was imprisoned for assaulting a taxi driver in London. And we thought being Kimi Raikkonen's PR person was a tough job.
After a few stunning qualifying laps in the Jordan, other teams sat up and took notice. Benetton-Ford offered Schumey a ride, and he was officially Ford-powered after Jordan lost a court case to keep him on their team.
In 1994, Schumacher won eight out of 16 races in the Benetton-Ford, netting him his first-ever world championship. The Benetton was powered by a Ford Zetec-R V8, fettled with by Cosworth. As you'll see shortly, Ford and Cosworth were excellent partners.
Ford is officially the third most successful manufacturer in Formula 1 history, beaten only by Mercedes and Ferrari.
There is a proviso, however. Ford did not go at it alone and relied heavily on the UK-based Cosworth. Cosworth is a renowned engine builder, having worked with Lotus, McLaren, Tyrrell, Brabham, Sauber, and Minardi. It was a dominant force during the V8 and V10 eras.
Ford scored five constructors' championships with the Lotus-Ford Cosworth team, two as Williams-Ford Cosworth, and one each with Matra-Ford Cosworth, Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, and McLaren-Ford Cosworth.
The last constructor's championship win was in 1981 with Williams-Ford Cosworth.
From around 1965, Ford and Cosworth started designing a 3.0-liter V8 engine after the FIA raised the maximum engine capacity from 1.5 to 3.0 liters. They ended up with a monster engine that was revealed in April 1967, and that eventually made 530 horsepower at the end of its F1 career.
The new engine debuted at Zandvoort in June, and Graham Hill drove the Lotus-Ford to pole position. Jim Clark eventually won the race in his Lotus-Ford.
The Ford DFV Race engine, as it was known, powered Lotus to second place in the constructors' championship, while Jim Clark scored third place in the drivers' championship.
That's a pretty epic debut.
Ford powered 13 drivers to a world championship title. Oddly, only two drivers could perform a repeat with a Ford-Cosworth engine. Jackie Stewart won three world championships with a Ford engine, while Emmerson Fittipaldi won twice. The rest were all one-timers. The complete list, plus the years they won, is below.
1968 Graham Hill - Lotus-Ford
1969 Jackie Stewart - Matra Ford
1970 Jochen Rindt - Lotus-Ford
1971 Jackie Stewart - Lotus-Ford
1972 Emmerson Fittipaldi - Lotus-Ford
1973 Jackie Stewart - Lotus-Ford
1974 Emmerson Fittipaldi - McLaren Ford
1976 James Hunt - McLaren Ford
1978 Mario Andretti - Lotus-Ford
1980 Alan Jones - Williams Ford
1981 Nelson Piquet - Brabham Ford
1982 Keke Rosberg - Williams Ford
1994 Michael Schumacher - Benetton Ford
In 2000, Ford bought the Stewart Racing Team and renamed it Jaguar Racing.
It didn't work out. During the first year out, there were no wins. In fact, Jaguar Racing never won a race. The last Ford victory belongs to Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, and he was racing a Jordan Ford. Ford finally axed the team in 2004 and sold it to Red Bull Racing.
That brings us full circle to the new Red Bull Ford team, which hopefully won't be a repeat performance of the Jaguar years.
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