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Ford F1 Academy deal shows support for Red Bull

Ford has made a major statement about its support for Red Bull by confirming its title sponsorship of the Formula 1 team’s F1 Academy programme.

Emely de Heus, MP Motorsport

The manufacturer’s logos will appear on the driving suit and MP Motorsport-run car of Emily de Heus.

Ford is backing the Red Bull Powertrains power unit that will be used by both the main F1 team and RB from 2026, when the new regulations are introduced.

However, its commitment has been called into doubt by the Christian Horner controversy that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks.

Ford executives have called for an early end to the ongoing saga. In a recent letter sent to Red Bull CEO Jim Farley noted: “As we have indicated previously, without satisfactory response, Ford’s values are non-negotiable.

“It is imperative that our racing partners share and demonstrate a genuine commitment to those same values.

“My team and I are available at any time to discuss this matter. We remain insistent on, and hopeful, for a resolution we can all stand behind.”

In recent days there have been suggestions that high level meetings within Ford have discussed the future of the power unit partnership with Red Bull.

Emely de Heus, MP Motorsport

Emely de Heus, MP Motorsport

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

However, the company faced an early deadline for making a public statement as it had already committed to title sponsorship of the team’s F1 Academy programme, with the series having its season-opening event in Jeddah this weekend.

The official announcement came on the eve of the first track action. While it can be seen as a commitment to the bigger Red Bull programme, it also gave Ford a timely opportunity to reiterate its position on inclusion and diversity matters in the context of the nature of the allegations against Horner.

The release noted that “the partnership further cements Ford’s long supported commitment to attracting more diversity across its motorsport portfolio, as part of the company’s broader STEM and DEI initiatives”.

It added: “This new title partnership with Red Bull Ford Academy Programme gives Ford the opportunity to further attract more women to the sport across all levels and roles, especially within the world of Red Bull Technology, alongside the wider initiatives that support diversity and inclusion.”

Global director of Ford Performance Motorsports Mark Rushbrook stressed that the F1 Academy deal is part of a bigger effort to encourage female participation in all areas of motorsport, including F1.

“Ford Performance is committed to working with the FIA and race promoters to find ways to integrate more female talent into all levels of motorsport, both on and off the track, and this is a great opportunity to extend that work by partnering with the best in F1 Academy,” he said.

“We have already partnered in other race series, such as Rebelle Rally, in addition to drivers such as Hailie Deegan, to bring more women to the forefront of motorsport. I am excited to partner with Red Bull to make a positive impact in F1.”

Mark Rushbrook

Mark Rushbrook

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing’s director of partnerships Julia George said: “Ford are an automotive manufacturer rich in motoring history that spans generations.

“Welcoming them as title partner of the Red Bull Ford Academy Programme is hugely exciting and demonstrates their appetite for improving female representation in motorsports both on and off the track.

“F1 Academy marks a major step forward for female drivers’ progression to the next level in motorsport and helps provide a pathway to ensure they can fulfil their potential, a commitment that is fully supported by Ford.

“The wealth of technical expertise that they bring to the partnership is crucial for the success of the Red Bull Ford Academy programme car, and we are excited to see what the 2024 F1 Academy season brings.”

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