Ford Motorsport Global Director Mark Rushbrook says the manufacturer would not be coming back to Formula 1 without the planned 2026 engine changes.
It was recently announced that the Blue Oval would be returning to Grand Prix racing as an engine technical partner to Red Bull from the 2026 season.
This is when F1 power units are set to undergo a major revamp, with Audi already confirmed to be entering, and General Motors also exploring their collaboration options via the Andretti Autosport bid to join the F1 grid.
When Ford do line-up on the grid in the 2026 season-opener, it will be the first time since 2004 that the Dearborn concern will have been on an F1 grid - ironically with the Jaguar team that would later become Red Bull.
And Rushbrook feels the planned engine formula pairs exactly with what Ford is looking for.
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Engine formula meets Ford goals
The 2026 generation of power units are set to increase electrical power with a beefed up MGU-K. The MGU-H component will be dropped and power levels are expected to be around the 350 kW mark.
In addition, the push toward sustainable fuels will continue, with E10 fuels already introduced.
Six manufacturers have signed up to this planned formula, including all current suppliers, Audi and Honda Racing Company - although HRC does not currently have a partner team.
This revamp of the rules was crucial in enticing Ford back having specialised in rallying and sportscars.
Following the confirmation of Ford's partnership with Red Bull, Rushbrook was asked if Ford would have considered a move towards Formula 1 without the 2026 regulation changes.
"No, I don't think we would," Rushbrook replied to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"If it was a carry over power unit without this opportunity, it would have been a step backwards for us.
"100% we needed to have [the technical link-up with Red Bull].
"We don't just go racing as a marketing exercise and, especially in Formula 1, being the stage that it is, the opportunity to get that technical learning was important for us.
"Without it, we wouldn't have done it."
Ford are also set to supply Red Bull's sister team AlphaTauri with power units as part of the deal in which they will work with the Red Bull Powertrains division formed at Milton Keynes.
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