Long F1 pedigree for Ford
Saturday 4th February, 2023 - 7:39am
The Ford name is to return to Formula 1 following the announcement of its deal with world champions Red Bull Racing.
The American automotive giant will rejoin the sport it left at the end of 2004, ironically after selling the Jaguar team to Red Bull.
On that occasion, Ford had entered the sport in a factory capacity, initially with Stewart Grand Prix in 1997, which became Jaguar Racing in 2000.
That project ended when the company opted to focus its attention on the World Rally Championship, although it had previously scaled back its investment in the team.
Ford’s involvement in Formula 1, however, goes far deeper, with the name adorning the most successful engine to compete in the sport.
Following the birth of the Cosworth DFV in 1967, the engine went on to power Graham Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jochen Rindt, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, and Keke Rosberg to world titles.
It was designed by British duo Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth (hence Cosworth) but was badged as Ford courtesy of funding from the American manufacturer.
Although a series of derivatives followed, it was outgunned during the sport’s turbo era throughout the 1980s.
Ford again tasted victory in the early 1990s, with Piquet and Alessandro Nannini at Benetton before Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger used the HDB7 to win five times – Senna taking his final Formula 1 win at the 1993 Australian Grand Prix.
Benetton continued to enjoy success, with Michael Schumacher taking the 1994 drivers’ title with a Ford EC Zetec in the back of his B194, although Williams Renault claimed the constructors’ crown that year.
It proved to be the last time Ford won a world championship, yet it did manage another grand prix win while powering Stewart.
In the rain-affected 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nürburging, Johnny Herbert emerged victorious, with team-mate Rubens Barrichello third.
Ford then took over the squad in 2000 to push the Jaguar brand, although interest was low in Detroit, famously so.
“For the management of the Ford Motor Company, we were just a cost, nothing more,” Guenther Steiner told the Starting Grid podcast.
The Haas F1 boss was then part of the Jaguar management structure and recounted a now infamous exchange with the motor company’s top brass regarding its star driver, Eddie Irvine.
“Who the hell is this Edmund Irvine?” came the question, reportedly from William Clay Ford Jnr when it became clear he was one of Ford Group’s best-paid employees.
“I wasn’t at board meetings, but I heard from people who were,” said Steiner.
“They had to take austerity measures and therefore checked their payslips. Eddie was very well paid, and William didn’t know him.
“It just shows how far away the management has been from this engagement in Formula 1.
“Because of that, too, there has been no success because this project has only cost them a lot of money.
“But no one knew what was going on, no one was involved. As a result, it all failed.”
Ironically, from 2026, Ford is to return to Formula 1 as a naming rights power unit partner with the team it sold nearly two decades ago.
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