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Ford is returning to Formula 1. That’s right, you’re going to see the Blue Oval back on the Circuit de Monaco and the Circuit of the Americas in a few years. What you might not know is that Ford’s dominance of F1 in the 1960s and 1970s makes it one of the top three most successful engine builders in F1 history. Ford announced it will return to Formula 1 for the 2026 season. This is at the same time that rumors swirl about Dodge’s 2024 NASCAR return, and Cadillac just engineered an all-new car for the 24 hours of Le Mans. The Detroit 3 are all leaning into racing to demonstrate the capabilities of their new hybrid and electric powertrains.

Is Ford in Formula 1?

Ford announced in February 2023 that it plans to return to Formula 1 for the 2026 season. Not only is Formula 1 growing in popularity in the U.S., but by 2026 the FIA plans to introduce sustainable fuel, and be carbon neutral by 2030.

Ford logo | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

All the cars must build new engines by 2026, because of the Formula 1 rule change, so it will be a very level playing field for Ford to enter. This is a good strategy for Ford to use.

Specifically, Ford has announced that it is entering into a “strategic partnership” with an engine builder called Red Bull Powertrains. The partners are planning “the development of a next-gen hybrid power unit to be used from the 2026 Formula 1 season onward.”

Two teams: Scuderia AlphaTauri and Oracle Red Bull Racing will run this in-development powertrain from 2026, through at least 2030.

Formula 1 is happy to have Ford back

More automakers in Formula 1 (or any motorsport) mean more research and development dollars spent on faster cars. It also means more competition. Formula 1 would be thrilled to add any OEM to its lineup. But the FIA seems especially happy to have Ford return:

A mercedes and ferrari race car competing during a Formula 1 race, may soon be joined by a Ford.
2022 Formula 1 race | Clive Mason/Getty Images

“There are few manufacturers who have such a celebrated motor sport history as Ford, so to see them coming back to the FIA Formula One World Championship is excellent news.”

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem

In its partnership with Red Bull, Ford plans to provide expertise it built by engineering its extensive hybrid lineup. This includes knowledge on battery cells and electric motor technology. It also includes the software that goes into hybrid power unit controls as well as the analytics to look at performance.

What many folks who don’t follow F1 may not know is that Formula 1 cars have been through-the-road hybrids for over a decade. This means a gasoline engine drives the back wheels while an electric motor drives the front, helping with handling and fuel efficiency.

Ford is looking to demonstrate its hybrid and electric drivetrain technology

If you think about it from a manufacturer’s perspective, motorsports are an opportunity to put a vehicle through a very public torture test and demonstrate both its performance capabilities and durability. Many American buyers traditionally noted which drivetrains do the best at the races. For years, the unofficial NASCAR manufacturer motto was “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

With the hybrid and electrification revolutions, automakers are looking for ways to assure buyers that their new drivetrains are durable and perform well. Automotive racing is an excellent way to demonstrate this. This is why we are seeing all of the Detroit Three renewing their relationships with motorsports.

Ford is no different. Here’s what Bill Ford said about the return to F1:

“Ford is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford’s long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world’s most visible stages.”

Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford Motor Company

This article is being updated

Next, find out the top speed record of Formula 1 vs. NASCAR or watch Ford’s Formula 1 return TV spot in the video below:

Check out a homemade open-wheel race car powered by a Ford EcoBoost engine in the video below: