Is Ford In F1? Have They Ever Been?

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F1 is the playground of many of the world’s most famous car manufacturers, including Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren. However, there is very little representation from US manufacturers, including the most famous, Ford. This can leave many wondering if Ford have ever been in F1.

Ford do not currently have a team participating in F1, nor do they supply engines for any of the current teams. Ford were involved in Formula 1 from 1963 until 2004, achieving high levels of success, before they pulled out of the sport due to the rising costs of being involved.

It remains to be seen whether Ford will ever rejoin the sport, especially with the extortionate costs involved in fielding a team and transporting them around the world. In this article we will discuss Ford’s Formula 1 history, as well as answer the question of whether they will ever rejoin.

Does Ford Have An F1 Team?

Ford does not currently have an F1 team, and they haven’t since they left the sport in 2004, due to their desire to invest their money into different aspects of their business. Ford have had an illustrious past in Formula 1, providing engines for many championship winning teams. 

Has Ford Ever Been In F1?

Ford had full-time involvement in F1 for a 38-year spell from 1966 to 2004. However, their first ever F1 entry came three years earlier, when Canadian constructor Stebro made their one and only Formula 1 appearance, using a Ford 105E engine during the 1963 United States Grand Prix. 

The Cosworth Buyout

Ford’s first major involvement in Formula 1 didn’t originally stem from a desire to be part of the sport. Instead, it came after Lotus boss Colin Chapman held talks with the founders of Cosworth and former Lotus employees, Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth. He convinced the two to join Lotus’ F1 project and begin supplying their engines for the upcoming season.

Cosworth had worked almost exclusively with Lotus up until that point, supplying engines for both their Formula Junior and Formula B teams, as well as for their Lotus 23 Le Mans car in 1962. However, if they were to get involved in Formula 1, they would need a substantial cash injection. Chapman convinced Ford to sign a development contract for Lotus’ DFV V8 engines.

The immaculately designed engine sat perfectly in the nimble-framed Lotus and went on to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship in the first season of the partnership. So began the start of Ford and Cosworth’s long-term Formula 1 partnership

Immediate Success

After the initial success of the Cosworth V8 engine, other teams on the grid began to notice. The following season saw both McLaren and Matra opting to use the DFV engines, with great success. The three teams with DFV engines occupied the top three spots in the Constructors’ Championship. In 1969 every race was won by a DFV powered car, proving it to be the dominant engine of the late 1960s. 

Ford’s initial involvement in F1 alongside Cosworth saw their DFV engines power their way to 9 Constructors’ Championships throughout the 1960s and 1970s. As remains the case in Formula 1, success doesn’t last forever, and once the DFV engines were no longer must-haves, Ford had to look for new ways to find success within the sport.

The Failed Haas Project

Ford’s next big Formula 1 involvement came with Haas Lola (not affiliated with the current Haas F1 Team). Ford was developing a turbocharged V6 engine, with Haas as the sole receivers, although production was unusually slow, with the engine unavailable until three races into the 1986 season, almost two years after they were initially meant to be ready.

When the engines were finally put into the cars, they were disappointing to say the least. The engines were slow and unreliable, and clocked in around five seconds off the pace of the race leaders. After Haas’ main sponsors pulled out of their agreement at the end of the 1986 season, the Haas team were put out of their misery.

The Benetton Years

The disappointment surrounding the failure of Haas didn’t put Ford off, as they began supplying engines to Benetton in 1987, signaling the start of another successful era. Benetton started to become regular point scorers and would finish in the top five until the 90s, when they signed Michael Schumacher. In 1994, Schumacher won his first championship, and Ford’s first championship since 1982.

1994 would be the final season of Ford’s involvement with Benetton, as they switched to Renault engines for the 1995 season. 

Stewart/Jaguar And Ford’s Farewell

1996 saw Ford begin their partnership with the new Stewart Grand Prix team, owned by three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart. Their maiden season in 1997 can only be described as awful, with repeated reliability issues meaning the team only finished eight races out of a possible 34 (across both cars). 1998 wasn’t much better, prompting a reshuffle behind the scenes.

Stewart’s 1999 season was their most successful, despite continual reliability issues. The team finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, which proved to be enough persuasion for Ford to buy the team out, rebranding it as Jaguar in 2000. Jaguar never managed to leave a mark on F1, failing to ever challenge the top teams, leading to Ford’s indefinite withdrawal from Formula 1 in 2004.

KEY POINTS

• Ford were in F1 from 1963 until 2004 in various forms

• There was never a Ford-named works team, but they supplied engines to many others

• The engine supplier saw varying levels of success over the years

When Did Ford Leave Formula 1?

Ford left Formula 1 in 2004 after 40 years in the sport. Their main reason for leaving was the extortionate amount of money it costs to operate within Formula 1 each year. Engine supplier Cosworth carried on supplying engines to their clients, just without the financial backing of Ford. 

Ford also offloaded their Jaguar team to Red Bull for a single dollar at the end of the 2004 season. The mishandling of the Jaguar F1 team was the final nail in Ford’s F1 coffin, as a lack of high-quality technical expertise in the team saw them fail to gain any consistent success. 

It is also reported that those in the higher jobs at Ford didn’t display a keen interest in F1 and let their focus drift elsewhere. It was a sorry end to a long and successful stint within the sport.

Were Ford Successful In F1?

Ford were one of the most successful engine suppliers in F1 history. Ford has the third most race wins in the sport, behind Ferrari and Mercedes. Their first taste of success came quickly, winning 9 Constructors’ Championships and 12 Drivers’ Championships within their first 15 years in F1. 

Their success peaked and troughed in the years to follow, before Michael Schumacher won his first Championship in a Ford-powered Benetton in 1994. Ford’s success would wane towards the end of the century when they were suppliers for Stewart Grand Prix, before they took it over and rebranded it as Jaguar. 

Ford In Formula 1

YEARTEAMSWINSCONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIPDRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1963Stebro, Lotus, Brabham0No No
1964Cooper, Brabham0NoNo
1965Brabham, Cooper, lotus0No No
1966McLaren0NoNo
1967 (First full-time involvement)Lotus4NoNo
1968Lotus, McLaren, Matra11Graham Hill (Lotus)Lotus
1969Lotus, Brabham, Matra, McLaren11Jackie Stewart (Matra)Matra
1970Lotus, March, McLaren, Brabham, Surtees, Bellasi, Tyrrell, De Tomaso8Jochen Rindt (Lotus)Lotus
1971Tyrrell, March, Lotus, McLaren, Surtees, Brabham, Bellasi7Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell)Tyrrell 
1972McLaren, Lotus, Tyrrell, Surtees, March, Brabham, Williams, Connew10Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus)McLaren
1973Lotus, Tyrrell, Brabham, McLaren, March, Shadow, Iso Marlboro, Ensign15Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell)Lotus
1974McLaren, Tyrrell, Lotus, Brabham, Hesketh, Shadow, March, Williams, Surtees, Lola, Token, Trojan, Penske, Parnelli, Lyncar, Ensign, Amon, Maki12Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren)McLaren
1975McLaren, Brabham, Hesketh, Tyrrell, Shadow, March, Lotus, Williams, Parnelli, Hill, Penske, Ensign, Fittipaldi, Lyncar, Lola, Maki, Surtees8NoNo
1976Tyrrell, McLaren, Lotus, Penske, March, Shadow, Surtees, Fittipaldi, Ensign, Parnelli, Wolf-Williams, Williams, Kojima, Hesketh, Maki, Brabham, Boro10James Hunt (McLaren)No
1977Lotus, McLaren, Wolf, Tyrrell, Shadow, Ensign, Fittipaldi, Surtees, Penske, Williams, Boro, LEC, McGuire, Kojima, Hesketh, March12NoNo
1978Lotus, Tyrrell, Wolf, Fittipaldi, McLaren, Arrows, Williams, Shadow, Surtees, Ensign, Martini, Hesketh, ATS, Theodore, Merzario9Mario Andretti (Lotus)Lotus
1979Williams, Ligier, Lotus, Tyrrell, McLaren, Arrows, Shadow, ATS, Fittipaldi, Kauhsen, Wolf, Brabham, Ensign, Rebaque, Merzario8NoNo
1980Williams, Ligier, Brabham, Lotus, Tyrrell, McLaren, Arrows, Fittipaldi, Shadow, ATS, Osella, Ensign11Alan Jones (Williams)Williams
1981Williams, Brabham, McLaren, Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows, Ensign, Theodore, ATS, Fittipaldi, Osella, March8Nelson Piquet (Brabham)Williams
1982McLaren, Williams, Lotus, Tyrrell, Brabham, Arrows, ATS, Osella, Fittipaldi, March, Theodore, Ensign8Keke RosbergNo
1983Williams, McLaren, Tyrrell, Arrows, Lotus, Theodore, Osella, RAM, Ligier3NoNo
1984 (Turbo era)Tyrrell, Arrows, Spirit0NoNo
1985Tyrrell, Minardi0NoNo
1986Haas Lola0NoNo
1987Benetton, Tyrrell, Larrousse, AGS, March, Coloni0NoNo
1988Benetton, Tyrrell, Rial, Minardi, Coloni, Larrousse, AGS, EuroBrun, Dallara0NoNo
1989 (End of turbo era)Benetton, Tyrrell, Arrows, Dallara, Minardi, Onyx, Ligier, Rial, AGS, Osella, Coloni1NoNo
1990Benetton, Tyrrell, Arrows, Monteverdi, Ligier, Osella, Dallara, Coloni, AGS, Minardi2NoNo
1991Benetton, Jordan, Lola, Fondmetal, Coloni, AGS, Footwork1NoNo
1992Benetton, Lotus, Fondmetal1NoNo
1993McLaren, Benetton, Lotus, Minardi6NoNo
1994Benetton, Footwork, Minardi, Larrousse, Simtek8Michael Schumacher (Benetton)No
1995Sauber, Minardi, Forti, Simtek0NoNo
1996Sauber, Forti, Minardi0NoNo
1997Stewart, Lola, Tyrrell0NoNo
1998Stewart, Tyrrell, Minardi0NoNo
1999Stewart, Minardi1NoNo
2000Jaguar, Minardi0NoNo
2001Jaguar, Minardi0NoNo
2002Jaguar, Arrows0NoNo
2003Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi1NoNo
2004Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi0NoNo

Will Ford Join F1 In The Future?

Ford currently have no plans to rejoin F1. Ford have invested heavily into other motorsports including rally racing, stock car racing and GT racing, meaning it is unlikely they will want to stretch their budget much further, with F1 requiring significant investment to achieve success.

Breaking America

Since Liberty Media took over the rights to F1, there have been huge strides made in trying to boost the popularity of the sport in the USA. With two US tracks currently on the calendar, and with the Las Vegas track coming in 2023, the commercial gains to be made from having an F1 team may be too hard to resist for Ford. Especially as they are a quintessentially American brand.

Budget Caps

With budget caps implemented into F1 with the aim of making the sport cheaper, Ford wouldn’t have to worry about costs growing out of control as they were in the 2000s. While it is undoubtedly still one of the most expensive sports in the world, at least Ford would know the limits.

Engine Provider

A return to F1 wouldn’t have to mean fielding a racing team. Ford could potentially return as an engine manufacturer, which would cut the costs of being involved in F1 dramatically. 

What Other Motorsports Does Ford Race In?

Ford is involved in plenty of different motorsports, with their logo seen on rally cars, stock cars, GT cars and in the off-road racing scene. Ford’s appetite for racing has somewhat declined over the years, especially after the cancellation of their 24 Hours of Le Mans program in 2019. 

However, their M-Sport rally team is still at large, producing results in various events across the world. They also still operate a road racing team, using their Mustang cars. As well as these, they frequently enter cars for drag racing too.

What Is Formula Ford?

Formula Ford is a lower ranked form of single-seater racing, often seen as the gateway out of karting and into the higher levels of formula racing. It has been the breeding ground for many a Formula 1 star, including the likes of Ayrton Senna, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. As it is pay-to-race, Formula Ford contains a mixture of young hopefuls looking to climb the racing ladder and amateurs.

Although the championship is under the Ford name, racers have freedom when it comes to chassis design and engine build, as well as smaller technical specifications of the car. There are multiple Formula Ford championships that take place over three continents, each differing in scale and importance. The largest was the Formula Ford British Championship before it was rebranded as Formula 4 in 2016.

The appeal of Formula Ford has dwindled slightly in recent years, especially with the emergence of rival racing categories, and the rebrand of the Formula Ford British Championship. However, it remains a great arena in which young drivers can gain open-wheel experience and put themselves into contention for higher ranked categories.

Final Thoughts

Ford is not currently in F1, although the brand has been in the sport in the past as an engine supplier and as a team owner. They enjoyed a long and successful time within the sport, leaving a very important legacy behind them, with the third most race wins out of all engine suppliers.