Ford were enticed back to Formula 1 after being impressed by the package of changes on offer, including carbon net zero and increased electrification.
The Blue Oval announced in early February that they would be returning to Grand Prix racing for the 2026 engine regulations overhaul, confirming that it would be as a technical partner to Red Bull and Red Bull Powertrains as opposed to a full, works squad.
It is the first time the Dearborn-based concern will have competed in F1 since the end of 2004 when it sold the Jaguar team to Dietrich Mateschitz for $1, who promptly re-named it Red Bull...
While an eye has been kept on developments in F1, the right project has not been open to Ford until now, with Red Bull talks accelerating over the last months of 2022.
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"We studied all options, and in many ways, it was a long journey," global director Mark Rushbrook told media including RacingNews365.com.
"It was a long journey it started two plus years ago as we started to see and understand what the future of the sport was.
"The commitment, the technology changes, the commitment to sustainable fuels, the net carbon zero, and the change to the technical regulations to make electrification an even bigger bigger component of the hybrid power unit became of interest to us where we knew we could contribute something technically to a programme, but also continue to learn in those areas.
"In parallel to that, we saw what was happening to the sport itself with the popularity, the goring global fans base and diversity of it would give us a platform to tell our story as a company, about our employees and about our products.
"So as we saw that really coming together and continuing to grow, we started that consideration of: 'Okay, maybe it's the right time to get back into Formula 1."
"But you've got to comeback in the right way.
Full works squad was considered
Prior to their 2004 exit, Ford had been a near constant presence in F1 since the 1960s, firstly through engines with the venerable Cosworth DFV and then through teams such as Stewart Grand Prix and then Jaguar.
Rushbrook admitted that a return as a full-blown works outfit was an option but that Ford ultimately felt a smaller technical partnership with an existing power unit supplier, RBPT, was the best option.
"We definitely took our time to listen to a lot of people, and as soon as they knew Ford had some interest for at least consideration, a lot of people came forward, whether it was an existing or prospective team to see if there was an opportunity for us to partner them.
"We approached some teas, but initially none of them seemed right.
"Coming back in as a full factory [effort] owning a team as we have done in the past also didn't feel right because we wanted to come in very strategically to contribute where it made sense.
"I'd say that with Red Bull, it was very quickly apparent that what they were looking for in a partner is something that we could bring and what we were looking for in a partner, they could bring.
"While that started in the latter half of 2022, it went very quickly in the sense that we knew it was the right partnership from the very beginning.
"To us, it is very important to come into the sport at the right time, in the right way and with the right partner - and we believe we're doing that on both counts."
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