Ford braces for Red Bull piggyback ride with bumper deal after two decades in F1 wilderness

It has been almost two decades since Ford featured in F1, but the car manufacturer is set to make a comeback to the pinnacle of motorsport very soon.

Having previously tied up with Jaguar between 2000-2004, things didn’t work out the way the Ford management wanted.

It meant that they disassociated themselves from F1 for a significant period after that, selling their squad to Red Bull.

The Austrian sports drink company, meanwhile, has enjoyed a lot of success ever since its arrival and won its first constructors’ title in nine years following a blistering season from Max Verstappen and a commendable performance from Sergio Perez.

With the growth of F1 popularity, especially in the United States, Ford is interested once again to put its name amongst other illustrious car manufacturers.

While Ford may not be looking to enter the sport as an individual team, reports suggest that they are looking to tie up with Red Bull.

Red Bull’s partnership with Honda ends at the end of 2025 and while the team is keen to produce its own power units starting from 2026, it is believed that they are keen to listen to prospective partnership offers.

Earlier this year, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: “We are fully focused on a Red Bull power unit, and if there was a like-minded partner that could contribute something to the project, then of course you would have to absolutely consider that. But it’s not a prerequisite.

“We will be the only team other than Ferrari to have engine and chassis all on one campus under one roof.

“We believe that for the long-term competitiveness of the team, it is absolutely the right thing to be doing. And of course, there are other opportunities it presents as well.”

What sort of deal will be beneficial to both Red Bull and Ford?

A deal between Red Bull and Porsche was expected to go through earlier this year, but talks broke down at the last moment.

A big factor for this was believed to be Red Bull’s reluctance to lose its independence in light of Porsche’s entry, especially in terms of its management and decision-making ability.

In the aftermath of this, Honda emerged once again as a potential option for Red Bull, but sources close to the team believe that Ford is now being viewed as a possible solution.

It is worth noting that Red Bull and Ford already work together in the WRC series.

What works in Red Bull’s favour is that Ford’s objectives from the partnership are distinctly different from those of Porsche.

Ford has little interest in ownership of Red Bull’s shares. In fact, they would be more than happy for Red Bull to continue heading the technical development of their power unit.

Instead, they want to be around to offer greater “technical assistance” in terms of the power unit used by Red Bull.

For Ford, marketing and brand presence are seen as the main factors for tying up with Red Bull. The Austrian firm, meanwhile, is expected to be happy to join forces with a global player like Ford.

What does this mean for Honda?

A partnership of this sort would be detrimental for any potential link-up between Honda and Red Bull in the future.

While the Japanese company was initially going to end its association in F1 altogether, its recent success has meant that they are now keen on registering their own entry with the FIA for the 2026 engine rules.

While Honda has not categorically said that it will enter F1 as an individual team, its relationship with Red Bull means that the team could even come in as an engine supplier.

The prospect of becoming a works partner or even taking control of Red Bull’s second team — AlphaTauri — has also not been ruled out by Honda.

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