Ford F1 : A Glittering History in the World of GP Racing
Ford F1 has had a long and storied history in Formula One, both as a constructor and an engine supplier.
Ford is set to make a comeback to Formula 1, teaming up with Red Bull Powertrains as the supplier of power units for Red Bull and AlphaTauri starting in 2026.
The return of the American automaker to the top of the sport after a 19-year absence is a significant event, but it is only the latest chapter in their illustrious Formula 1 history.
The “Blue Oval” has a history of success in Formula 1 with 176 Grand Prix victories, 13 driver championships, and 10 constructor championships, putting it as the third-most successful engine manufacturer, trailing only Ferrari and Mercedes.
Interestingly, Ford’s previous involvement in Formula 1 was through Jaguar, which was later bought by Red Bull prior to the 2005 season. Additionally, the logos of the car manufacturer and energy drink company were once placed side by side on Sauber’s F1 cars from 1995 to 1996.
When Ford entered Formula 1 in 1967, they quickly achieved success, winning 12 out of the next 15 driver championships with renowned drivers such as Jackie Stewart and Alan Jones behind the wheel.
In collaboration with Cosworth Racing, Ford introduced the iconic DFV engine, which went on to become the most victorious engine in Formula 1 history.
Its success was inevitable, as the DFV engine earned its first Grand Prix victory with Jim Clark and the Lotus 49 at Zandvoort.
The legendary British driver went on to win four more races, including his final three Grand Prix before his untimely death in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim.
Clark’s teammate, Graham Hill, carried on the winning streak and became the first driver to earn a world championship title while driving for Ford.
After Lotus lost their exclusive use of the highly sought-after DFV engine, Ford was used by several teams, including Lotus, Matra, McLaren, and Colin Chapman’s team.
Jackie Stewart then secured a commanding championship victory for Matra in 1969, as Ford astonishingly dominated by powering all 11 race wins and the top four teams.
Jochen Rindt, who was a winning driver in the Lotus 72, was awarded the championship posthumously after his untimely death at the Italian Grand Prix.
Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi then split the following four world championships, as Ford’s dominance reached unparalleled heights.
The superiority of the DFV engine was such that by 1973, only Ferrari and BRM had cars on the grid without the “Blue Oval” engine, and predictably, Ford-powered cars won all 15 Grand Prix races that year.
However, despite winning 8 out of 14 races, Ford’s winning streak came to a halt in 1975 when Niki Lauda of Ferrari secured a historic world championship title.
This ignited a back-and-forth competition between Ford and Ferrari, as the two took turns leading the world.
Ford regained its position in 1976, winning 10 races largely due to James Hunt, who emerged triumphant following a thrilling battle with Lauda.
Although Lauda and Ferrari regained their dominance in 1977, Ford continued to receive frequent awards and returned to their powerful form in 1978, with Mario Andretti’s unbeatable Lotus 79 delivering the victories.
Jody Scheckter’s championship title for Ferrari was followed by Alan Jones, who drove Williams to its initial dual drivers’ and constructors’ double.
Jones’s victory in 1980 brought Ford back to its winning form, with Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg also being crowned world champions for the “Blue Oval.”
However, Rosberg’s 1982 victory marked the end of Ford’s golden era, as turbo-powered cars became dominant by the mid-1980s.
The Ford DFY engine, which had been in use for many years, completed its final Grand Prix with the Tyrrell team in 1985, as new dominant teams and engines appeared.
The Benetton Ford team became a strong contender, following the dominance of McLaren Honda, and brought Ford back to the top with a win by Alessandro Nannini at Suzuka in 1989 after a six-year hiatus. Nelson Piquet also achieved several victories in the early 1990s.
The championship trophy returned to Ford with the arrival of Michael Schumacher.
The arrival of Michael Schumacher marked the return of a championship trophy to Ford. Despite displaying remarkable potential with memorable victories in Belgium and Portugal in 1992 and 1993, respectively, in seasons dominated by Williams, Schumacher dominated the competition in the beginning of 1994.
The German driver and the Ford Zetec-R 3.5 V8 engine were unstoppable, with car #5 winning six of the first seven Grand Prix of the 1994 season. No one could keep up.
The 1994 championship was a close race, with Schumacher securing his first of seven world titles after an exciting finale with rival Damon Hill in Adelaide.
1994 proved to be Ford’s final championship year as Benetton switched to Renault power in the next season.
After a period of poor performance, a recognizable name was needed to bring Ford back to the top. This included Max Verstappen’s father Jos driving a Sauber that was sponsored by Red Bull and powered by Ford.
The Stewart family name returned to Formula One when Jackie became the owner of the eponymous team that was powered by Ford. The team achieved a memorable double podium finish with Johnny Herbert in first place followed by Rubens Barrichello.
In 2000, the white Stewart cars were changed to Jaguar green, and three years later, Jordan also acquired Ford power.
Despite being the main team with Ford power, it was the smaller Jordan that brought Ford its last Grand Prix win in 2003, with Giancarlo Fisichella triumphing in Brazil.
But Ford’s journey came to a close in 2004 when the struggling Jaguar team was bought by Red Bull.
Under Christian Horner’s leadership, the Red Bull team has evolved into a dominant force in modern-day Formula 1, with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen contributing to the team’s six world driver’s championships.
The partnership between Ford and Red Bull could lead to the resurgence of the “Blue Oval” brand in Formula 1, as the combined forces of their previous Grand Prix wins and drivers championships total up to 268 and 19 respectively. The potential for success is heightened with the implementation of new engine regulations in 2026. Only time will tell, but the past bodes well for the future.
Ford F1 Glittering History Ford F1 Glittering History Ford F1 Glittering History
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