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While the recent announcement that Ford is entering Formula 1 came with much fanfare, there is more than just a will to win driving its entry into the world’s premier racing series. Of course, partnering with the reigning champion Red Bull F1 team means a chance to see Ford atop the podium frequently. The partnership takes to the track in 2026, but the work has already started. The manufacturer seeks to benefit immediately from their involvement in the series with research and development. As Formula 1 forges ahead with synthetic fuels and hybrid racing engines, Ford will use that research to improve their production cars.

The Red Bull Ford Powertrains word mark
The Red Bull Ford Wordmark | Ford Performance

Ford using Formula 1 to develop synthetic fuel technology

While the push toward electrification is undeniable, there are already scientific rumblings about the negative effects of Lithium mining. It takes a lot of the heavy metal to make the high-capacity batteries found in today’s EVs. That said, other manufacturers and Formula 1 have all been working on synthetic fuels instead. These are fuels that can be used with few or no modifications to current combustion engine technologies. While techniques vary, the end goal is the same: fuels that are cleaner to produce and use.

Porsche and Ferrari are already working toward this goal and having some success. And with Porsche’s parent company, Volkswagen Auto Group, being a main competitor to Ford around the world, it was time for Ford to step into the ring.

Which brings us back to Ford’s future involvement with Formula 1. While their Red Bull partnership isn’t slated to officially begin until 2026, development on the new engine regulations is already underway. This means that Ford is already getting their hands on synthetic fuels to assist with research and development. Even better, it is technology that it can take back to Detroit to use in the cars you and I can buy and drive today. Not only does this mean the potential to save the combustion engine in the future, but many of these fuels are considered safer for the environment than battery technology.

Advancing hybrid and EV capability

Ford's Formula 1 announcement includes this racing version of the Mustang Mach-E
A Ford Mustang Mach-E with Racing Modifications | Ford Performance

In addition to developing synthetic fuel technology, Ford’s involvement in Formula 1 gives them a test bed for further work on hybrid and electric vehicles. Today, Formula 1 regulations already use a V6 turbo-hybrid power unit system similar. The system is similar to hybrid vehicles we see on the road today. By 2026, Formula 1 aims to triple the output of the electric motors used by these hybrids. In doing so, they aim to further reduce the reliance on gas-powered engines. By taking on this partnership with Red Bull F1, Ford can now outsource high-level research and development. This allows them to test new technology while reaping the benefits for the cars it sells to us in showrooms.

Ford wants to win both at the track and on the road

Of course, Ford still wants to win in Formula 1. But the advances in synthetic fuel and electric vehicle technology it can make while involved with the series will help push the manufacturer ahead, even if success on racing’s biggest stage is limited.

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