Max Verstappen believes that it will be a "very important year" in 2026 once Ford enters Formula 1 as a power unit supplier alongside Red Bull.
The partnership was announced at the team's 2023 season launch event in New York, after Ford confirmed that would be rejoining the grid after over 20 years.
Although the link up will not happen straight away, with Honda logos still appearing on the RB19 livery, Verstappen said the early announcement enables the two parties to build a relationship to be fully ready by 2026.
"I think to build that relationship and to be fully ready in 2026, because we know that it's a very important year - that's why it's good that we start now," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.
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Red Bull and Ford deal serious a couple of months ago
The Ford link up comes after talks with Porsche potentially entering F1 collapsed in September.
In the months that followed the discussions with Ford picked up, which was something that Verstappen was aware of having spoken to Christian Horner and Helmut Marko about the deal.
"Of course I spoke to Christian [Horner] and Helmut [Marko] and I knew a couple of months ago [that] it started to be very serious," said Verstappen.
"Then it's still about putting the deal together. But I have to say that once you want to commit, and you're very excited about it, then that [deal] can happen very quickly."
Verstappen believes that it did not take long for people to be convinced about their F1 project.
"They're a big name in the sport, so I think it wasn't very hard to convince anyone, and [how] it would be very nice to have them," he added.
Verstappen: Ford a big name in F1
Verstappen says the excitement generated around the Ford rejoining the grid will be important for both parties, especially given that the US car-maker has proved itself to be a big brand in F1 in the past.
He added: "Their way of thinking, performance, commitment. They're all very excited and you need to have everyone excited for the project.
"I think that's why it's amazing that they're on board and they've shown in the past how they really are a big brand in the sport. So I have no doubt that we can continue that."