After a nearly two-decade hiatus, Ford is making a Formula 1 comeback. The return of the automaker to one-seat racing will coincide with the introduction of new engine regulations in 2026 that will allow "increased electrical power and 100 percent sustainable fuels."
From the 1960s to 2005, Ford's name loomed large in F1 racing. Its DFV (Double Four Valve) engine, helped the British engineering firm Cosworth win 155 out of 262 races between 1967 and 1985. Now the effort to green the carbon-intensive sport is one reason Ford is coming back.
“Our commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and to introduce sustainable fuels in the F1 cars from 2026 is also an important reason for their decision to enter F1," said Stefano Domenicali, president and CEO of Formula 1, in a press release.
Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, also highlighted the appeal of the 2026 Power Unit Regulations. “Ford is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford’s long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world’s most visible stages,” he said.
Other automobile companies are entering F1 in response to the new guidelines. German carmaker Audi has acquired a stake in Sauber, which will become its racing team.
The announcement came during a dismal day for Ford on Wall Street. The stock plunged more than 7 percent after an earnings report showed the company falling short of its own full-year guidance. Net income in the fourth quarter was also $11 billion below the same period last year.
Ford said the less-than-stellar earnings were due to "execution issues."
“We should have done much better last year,” CEO Jim Farley said in a news release. “We left about $2 billion in profits on the table that were within our control, and we’re going to correct that with improved execution and performance.”
What might that process look like? Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told Cheddar News that "everything was on the table" in terms of cutting costs and increasing efficiency.
"I'm not going to provide numbers right now on layoffs, or anything like that, but suffice it to say we have cost opportunities across the board, from our material costs to our transportation costs," he said. "We need to take advantage of them. We need to move quickly and take our cost structure and make it more competitive."
Looking further ahead, Lawler expressed confidence in the company's pivot into electric vehicles, even as the space rapidly becomes more competitive. He said the priority was to "make sure that our vehicles are differentiated and that they're a compelling product for our customers."
In addition, he denied that a price war is underway between EV automakers and hinted that Ford would not be cutting its prices to keep up with competition.
"We're not going to cede ground to anybody," he said. "I don't think there's a price war."