Ford and Red Bull Racing recently announced their partnership to develop hybrid powertrains for the 2026 season and beyond. Red Bull previously had been working on a deal with Porsche but that ultimately fell through and it's now officially tied the knot with Ford. According to Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, Ford's EV knowhow was key to the partnership.
“It’s great to have this relationship with Ford, their expertise, especially in EVs,” Horner told The Drive at the Red Bull F1 car launch in NYC. “As an independent engine manufacturer, we’d be at a disadvantage to our competitors if we didn’t have that."
There are critics who feel that this partnership is nothing more than a branding exercise but Horner squashed such notions.
“Absolutely [it’s more than a branding exercise], it’ll be a technical exchange. Of course, the facilities will be in-house at Milton Keynes, but we’ll be able to draw from their expertise. Ford’s invested billions and billions in the whole EV sector, with batteries, automation, software, and more,” Horner added.
“There’s no change in shareholding or formation of the company, it’s a contractual relationship with Ford for many years. It’s a multi-year agreement. It covers the next phase of the engine regulations,” the Red Bull boss said. “The roles are clearly defined as to what each partner is gonna do. We’re just chuffed to be in this partnership with one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, as well as in the EV forefront.”
Ford doesn't only bring EV knowhow to the relationship, it also brings a rich racing pedigree. Ford has developed engines for F1 on and off since the 1960s, including an engine co-developed with Cosworth, the DFV, that became the winningest engine in F1 history.
It's expected that Ford will develop the 350 kW electric motor for the hybrid powertrains used by 2026 F1 cars, per upcoming regulations. Red Bull Powertrains (RBPT) is expected to develop the internal combustion engine, with some technical input from Ford, and it will run on sustainable fuels. Regardless of its exact role in its partnership with Red Bull, Ford was still able to beat Cadillac and Andretti to F1, as the latter two are still trying to enter.
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