Ford F1 return part of electric vehicle drive
By Mat Coch
Saturday 18th February, 2023 - 8:00pm
The return of Ford to F1 as a strategic partner with Red Bull from 2026 is part of the automaker’s push into the hybrid and electric vehicle space.
Formula 1 will introduce new power unit regulations for 2026 with an increased focus on hybridisation.
That system has also been simplified, with the removal of the MGU-H in an effort to attract new manufacturers.
Audi has already signed up while Red Bull too was among a list of six OEMs who’d registered for the new regulations published by the FIA.
Ford has effectively taken branding rights to the Red Bull Powertrains unit, though the relationship will be more than skin-deep.
However, the primary motivator for the American giant is marketing, with the programme being funding coming from marketing rather than racing – hence there is no impact on its other racing programmes.
Speaking with invited media. Including Speedcafe.com, Ford’s global motorsport boss Mark Rushbrook explained F1 is seen as a better platform to expand its electric vehicle messaging.
F1 reach key for Ford
“Yes, there are some full electric theories out there – there aren’t too many to choose from, at this point,” he said in reference to Formula E and Extreme E, both of which on paper are a more logical fit.
“Many of them don’t have technology challenges, [they’re] based upon spec components that they may be using, or limited areas in which you can advance technology.
“But they also don’t have the following that Formula 1 does.
“So we believe with the increased element of electrification in the 2026 to 2030 regulations, with 50 percent of the power coming from the electric motor, that at that power level with what it’s going to require out of the battery cells to provide power at that level for the durations, managing that both the current and temperatures, there’s important learning there.
“So we definitely believe that we can get the technical learning as well as more directly reaching a larger, diverse global fan base.”
While that is a significant motivator for Ford’s return to F1, it will not be limited to just the hybrid aspect of the power unit.
Partnership with Red Bull
The brand will have engineers embedded with Red Bull at its Milton Keynes base and expects to have them contribute to all aspects of the engine’s development.
“The biggest emphasis for us is on the electrified element of it, but there’s still an opportunity for us to contribute to the combustion engine portion of it with designers with modelling with efficiency with some test facilities as well,” Rushbrook explained.
“So certainly there will be some collaboration and sharing.
“We are partnering with Red Bull for powertrains and it is a combined effort to use their resources and our resources to do it efficiently,” he added.
“So we’re certainly not footing this bill alone but it’s that partnership that combined resources and dollars spent to do it in a responsible way from a corporate budget, but also efficient targeted to spend the money and resources in the areas where we believe we can contribute and where we can learn and bring that back to our cars.”
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