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2026 return has echoes of 1970s revolution Ford boss believes

NEWS STORY
23/01/2024

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."

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1. Posted by MossMan, 23/01/2024 16:13

"@Apexing - I was about to joke how I knew many Americans who believed they invented television, so I did a quick search and found that e.g. the Smithsonian and the History Channel actually *DO* claim that it was an American invention (by Farnsworth)... completely ignoring the earlier proof-of-concept work in France & Germany and then the first working public demonstration by Baird. What the heck?!?!?"

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2. Posted by Apexing, 20/01/2024 21:30

"@Editor and @Max, you guys are forgetting your history. It was the Americans who nicked the original Enigma machine from King Harold in 1066 from one of his errant submarines that allowed us to win the Battle of Hastings. Which is why the British flag to this day is still red, white and blue - to honor the American contribution to that battle. Ahem. Or, so I'm told. "

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3. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 19/01/2024 16:02

"So glad Ford is coming back to F1! "

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 19/01/2024 14:55

"Perhaps I should have added the "irony" tags to the cost cap bit of that post...."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 19/01/2024 14:39

"Good luck to Ford, but this is hardly a re-run of the DFV & the cost-cap should ensure that Ford can't inject huge sums into the enterprise...."

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6. Posted by Dirt, 19/01/2024 13:44

"@Wokingchap: He also says, "they're going to go to like 50% electric." Does he not even know the '26 regulations? Is Ford planning to allow the MGU-K to be turned up to eleven?"

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7. Posted by Wokingchap, 19/01/2024 13:19

"@dirt... "Gives up a large dose of credibility" ..love that ..haaaa"

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8. Posted by Burton, 19/01/2024 11:36

"Yeehaw!!"

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9. Posted by Max Noble, 19/01/2024 11:18

"Ah the passion!

Quite so @editor. Last time I checked it appeared that Americans won the battle of Bosworth. :-)

My hope is Ford actually do bring big dollar excitement back. Oh - all outside the cost cap naturally…."

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10. Posted by Editor, 19/01/2024 7:34 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 19/01/2024 8:46)

"@ ancient70!

All serious fans of the sport are fully aware that the Ford Cosworth DFV was the work of Britons Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth.

However it was the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, USA that Colin Chapman appoached for funding and the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, USA that ultimately provided the funding, albeit with more than a little nudging from Walter Hayes, formerly of Ford of Britain.

No doubt, in time Keanu Reeves will reveal that Costin and Duckworth were both American, as was Little Jimmy Clark, from downtown Michigan no less, while the 49 itself was the work of the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, USA."

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11. Posted by ancient70!, 19/01/2024 6:03

"Just one small point, Ford did not build the DFV, Cosworth did. Ford paid for the design and development, and of course the the cam covers said FORD. They got a lot of milage out of that investment. It was one of the few times an OEM actually did something useful in F1, the other was when Renault kept us entertained with their spectacularly self immolating turbo engines, which eventually worked. I actually saw these in the flesh, at Kayalami, rows of them on pallets outside their pit box, they had to bring lots to each event. I was amazed how small that engine was, with multi layer clutch plates smaller than teacup saucers. "

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12. Posted by Dirt, 19/01/2024 2:16 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 19/01/2024 8:46)

"I'm sorry, but any CEO that includes the word "frickin'" in his/her press release gives up a large dose of credibility. Did he actually say what he's quoted as saying, or (more likely) did his press staff write a calculated speech for the target audience?

<sarcasm> What? Me? Cynical? Never. </sarcasm>

I wish Ford success, but please don't blow helium up our skirts..."

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13. Posted by elsiebc, 18/01/2024 16:31

"So tech transfer of existing information is going to be as revolutionary as a complete rethinking of car design, one that could never happen today with the ever restricted current rule book. I think Jim Farley is almost as funny as Chris."

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14. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 18/01/2024 14:57

"Farley is very bullish (pardon the pun) - just hope the reality matches his words otherwise we could see a repeat exodus"

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15. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 18/01/2024 14:53 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 19/01/2024 8:46)

"I watched, on BBC, the coverage at Zandvoort (interrupted by horse racing, I recall) - wonderful result.

However fine the 49 was (and it really was), 1970 was very much a combination year of that, and the 72.

Two "what ifs", one for each car - Hockenheim and Monza. Without those tragedies, I wonder how many more titles Lotus would have had?"

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