Ford CEO, Jim Farley claims his company’s return to F1 in 2026 could have a similar impact to when the American manufacturer helped revolutionise the sport in the 1960s and 1970s.
If you want a true F1 fairy-tale, ignore the ‘we didn’t have any money’ nonsense of the Brawn biopic and instead recall that heady summer of 1967, when Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 took to the track at Zandvoort and won on its debut.
Having convinced Ford to build an F1 engine, Chapman set about designing a car that would revolutionise the sport, using the engine as a stressed member in combination with a monocoque aimed to reduce weight.
That iconic combination of Lotus 49, Ford DFV and Hewland gearbox went on to win the 1968 and 1970 constructors titles, the engine going on to dominate much of the 1970s, with variants enjoying subsequent success in CART, Formula 3000 and Endurance racing.
Speaking at the launch of his company’s motorsport season, Ford CEO Jim Farley said that he believes the Blue Oval’s return to F1 in 2026 in partnership with Red Bull can have a similar overall impact to that of the 1970s revolution.
“We’re going back to F1 in a way that we haven’t in the past,” he said. “It turns out that the best aerodynamics in the world are in Formula 1, the best telemetry, the best digital diagnostics. And, actually, we need all those things for electric and digital cars. So it’s actually going back to the 70s with a pure tech transfer.
“This is not like owning our team,” he continued, “we’re going there to literally transfer technology. We can offer battery tech for them, because in ’26, they’re going to go to like 50% electric, and they need high discharge batteries. And we do that in NHRA, for example.
“On the other hand, we can get telemetry, digital diagnosis, as well as aero, which we can put in our production, electric cars to make the battery smaller.
“They are the best in the world in a lot of these technologies,” he said of Red Bull, “and we need them desperately as the car business changes. So it’s literally like going back to where we were all those years ago: tech transfer.
“We have got the best frickin’ team, it’s that simple,” he added. “I mean, we’ve got the best drivers, we’ve got the best technical support, we have the best of Ford around the globe to support them.
“But the team, the powertrain team that they’re building in Milton Keynes, is like absolutely, top notch. We’re going first class to the very top of the podium.
“I had a chance to spend a lot of time in Milton Keynes, and with Adrian Newey, and I think we’re on track. Even though 2026 sounds like a long way away, we have a lot of work to do on the powertrain, but I’m really happy with the progress. I wish I could tell you more, but I would say we’re on track.”