Ford allegedly wants to become the official powertrain supplier of both Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri, and an announcement is expected imminently.
Red Bull Racing will unveil the RB19 F1 car later today, and it might even announce a new engine branding partnership with Ford. Multiple reputable sources, including the BBC and Sky News, are reporting on these rumors. Apparently, an Italian publication reported the news before it was meant to go live, but the article has since been pulled. In any case, all will be confirmed in a few hours.
A partnership with Ford seems odd, considering Red Bull pulled out of its highly-publicized deal with Porsche last year. Red Bull is not willing to concede control, which makes sense considering Max Verstappen's back-to-back world championships, and the fizzy drinks team reclaiming the constructors' title from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team after eight years of absolute dominance.
In short, the current setup works, so why mess with it?
According to the rumor mill, Ford isn't looking to interfere as much as Porsche would have. Porsche is still shopping around for a partner and wants to be a power unit provider. Red Bull is in the process of setting up an in-house power unit department aided by Honda, and it has reportedly already fired up the first version of the engine that will comply with the 2026 engine regulations.
Ford apparently wants to slap a badge on these power units. It doesn't want to design, develop or build an F1 engine. What we have here is a potential branding exercise, like Alfa Romeo and Sauber. The folks at Sauber do all the behind-the-scenes development, and Alfa Romeo pays millions to put its livery on top. Alfa's deal will end after the 2023 season, and Audi has already purchased a minor stake in Sauber which will grow in years to come.
Ford likely wants to capitalize on F1's popularity, and what better way to do it than putting the Blue Oval on the side of the most feared F1 car out there? That old adage of win on Sunday, sell on Monday still rings true. Ford knows this better than anyone with the success of the Ford GT supercar, not just in the 1960s but again in recent years.
Ford Performance boss Mark Rushbrook recently answered questions from Motorsport.com regarding the brand's interest in F1, stating, "Formula 1 is certainly strong and growing, both in the United States and globally," highlighting Netflix's Drive to Survive series as a strong driver of its popularity. While he refused to comment on speculation over a 2026 Ford-branded entry, he did admit to evaluating the concept. "It's our responsibility to study them and understand them, and then make decisions on whether it makes sense or doesn't make sense."
If these rumors are accurate, we'll eventually see two of the big three American manufacturers duke it out in F1.
General Motors also intends to join the grid with Andretti Autosport, racing under the Cadillac brand. Unlike the Ford deal, Andretti Cadillac will have to jump through multiple hoops because it wants to enter as an all-new team instead of striking a simple sponsorship deal like Ford.
Ford will have the upper hand because it will come out winning races immediately. Caddy is a few years behind, but we're hoping to see the two American brands eventually enter Copse Corner at Silverstone side-by-side.
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