Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director Mark Rushbrook has insisted the company's F1 partnership with Red Bull is a "true partnership" and not a 'bag of money' project.
The American manufacturer has joined forces with the 2022 Constructors' champion to work on Powertrain development ahead of the new-for-2026 power unit regulations.
Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Rushbrook has explained Ford's approach to entering F1 and how it aligns with its concurrent motorsport strategy.
"If you look at how we compete in every other racing series, Ford does not own a team," said Rushbrook.
"We decide what series we want to participate in, where we can get the innovation tech transfer, where we can compete and win or tell a compelling story about our company, our people and our products to the fanbase that we choose to.
"So when we go to NASCAR, we partner with Penske and Stewart-Haas and RFK. When we go to Australian Supercars, we've got a fantastic line-up of teams there - that's just our approach.
"That's what's worked for us to be able to efficiently participate in motorsports and be part of the fabric in those different series.
"For Formula 1, our approach was no different. When you look at how a lot of manufacturers participate in Formula 1, several of them own their team outright and are 100 percent developing their own power unit.
"But there is a lot of spend that comes with that, to be honest, and do you get full return or value for all of that spend? Not necessarily."
From the very first discussion with Red Bull, it was very clear that they could be a great partner.
The right way to come in
Ford has a chequered history in F1, from partnering with Cosworth to produce the most successful engine the sport has seen to struggling to make its mark when owning the uncompetitive Jaguar outfit, which was sold to Red Bull ahead of the 2005 campaign.
Further explaining its entry model, Rushbrook added: "We looked at our history - what was successful for us? Cosworth was certainly the success.
"When we owned our own Formula 1 team, we weren't very successful with it. Red Bull took what was our team and turned it into something very successful over these years.
"So as we looked at those different options to get into Formula 1 once we know we wanted to do it, we certainly talked to a lot of the existing teams and looked at the different opportunities to come in and partnerships are important for us... to have the right partners, the right people to be successful together.
"Honestly, from the very first discussion with Red Bull, it was very clear that they could be a great partner, they know how to win - and complementary, where they had strengths and where they needed some strengthening to making them even stronger or something that we could do.
"So for us, that's the right way to come in. It's not a 'bag of money and put a sticker on the car', it's a true partnership to the full extent."
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We love competition
When Ford enters the grid in 2026, it will come up against Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine and Audi as well as the potential for Honda to return having signed up for the new regulations.
Dismissing concerns of an OEM saturation of the F1 grid, Rushbrook insisted: "We love competition, that's why we are in motorsports.
"Across a lot of different series, we see different numbers - as low as two and as high as seven or even in sportscars, we see more than that.
"We are not worried about it, we are here to compete against the best in the world and hopefully to be successful against the best in the world.
"So look forward to a really strong, healthy series and opportunity to compete against all those OEMs."