Red Bull ‘agreement’ leaks early as Verstappen prepares for car launch

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April

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Red Bull are poised to unveil more than just their 2023 F1 car during Friday’s launch in New York, with Max Verstappen preparing to defend his world title for a second consecutive year. An engine partnership with US car giants Ford is also in the pipeline, and the news was leaked early due to an unfortunate technical gaffe. 

Red Bull will continue to use Honda F1 engines until 2025, as per their initial arrangement, but Ford are poised to join forces with the team from 2026 onwards. The American car manufacturer will part-fund the engine currently being designed for new regulations to be introduced in three years’ time. 

Negotiations between Red Bull and Ford were reported several weeks ago but news of a signed agreement remained under wraps until Thursday. It was put out in the open when Ford sent the information to news agency Ansa without clarifying that it was under embargo. 

The story went up before being withdrawn shortly afterwards. Red Bull have declined to comment on the deal, which is set to be formally announced on Friday. 

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Ford has not been involved in F1 at a factory level since 2004, when they sold their Jaguar team to Red Bull. They will join up with Red Bull Powertrains, which employs around 500 people, and team boss Christian Horner claims that they are working hard for the fresh regulations to be introduced in 2026. 

Reigning double world champion Verstappen and his team-mate, Sergio Perez, are already believed to be in New York ahead of the hotly-anticipated launch. Ford chief Jim Farley and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali are also expected to be in attendance. 

Global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, Mark Rushbrook, recently hinted that a return to F1 could be in the works, admitting: “What they have done well is to create great racing and great competition. It’s still the pinnacle, and they have been able to reach new audiences with things like Netflix’s Drive to Survive.”

The sport is also seeing increased American influence, with a Grand Prix in Las Vegas added to the coming year’s schedule, along with further races in Austin and Miami. US-based Andretti Autosport are vying to become the 11th team on the F1 grid, joining forces with General Motors to operate under the Cadillac brand. 

All eyes will be on Verstappen during Red Bull’s car launch, as F1’s hottest property with two Drivers’ Championships under his belt by the age of 25. The team were rampant in 2022, dominating the team standings to finish more than 200 points ahead of nearest challengers Ferrari. 

Verstappen had a record-breaking campaign on an individual level, too, setting a new record by notching 15 Grand Prix wins in a single season. Perez will hope to close the gap on his high-flying Dutch team-mate for the season ahead, having finished almost 150 points adrift last year. 

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