F1: Red Bull had better get an ironclad contract with Ford

Peter M. Delorenzo delivers a scathing review of Ford and its hand-picked CEO Jim Farley in his latest edition of Autoextremist titled “A giant Blue Oval of Not Good.”

If Mr. Delorenzo is be believed, Mr. Farley, who signed the Red Bull Powertrains deal to be an engine partner for the Red Bull F1 teams starting in 2026, may not be around that long.

Given the financial performance of Ford under Mr. Farley, he may not still be CEO when 2026 comes around, so Red Bull had better have a watertight contract.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Jim Farley, CEO of Ford talk on stage during the Oracle Red Bull Racing Season Launch 2023 at Classic Car Club Manhattan on February 03, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Oracle Red Bull Racing) // FIA / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

A few excerpts from Delorenzo’s article:

“Farley was to be “The Savior” who was appointed by Chairman Bill Ford to lead the Ford ship to the Promised Land, a fantasy world akin to an idyllic state of mind awash in bunny rabbits, rainbows and endless profits. Instead, the “Boy Wonder” has run the whole enterprise aground.”

“A $2 Billion with a “B” loss in 2022 with a bevy of (allegedly) home run products and sky-is-the-limit optimism emanating from Dearborn about its prospects and its forthcoming profits. Farley offered no specifics for the analysts as to how he is going to “fix” things at Ford, only suggesting that he and his “team” had undertaken a deep dive into all things Ford to figure it out.”

“The existence of EVs at Ford (and GM and Stellantis for that matter) is solely dependent on the profits generated by the ICE vehicles in their fleet. And executing complicated manufacturing issues is not a skill set that typically exists in the hallowed digital world. And executing is the name of the game, which is why Ford is consistently mired in mediocrity. Its excruciating dysfunction runs rampant throughout the company. There’s a time-honored mantra at Ford that suggests that whenever a good idea emerges from a supplier – remember, Ford wrote the book on “Not Invented Here” – Ford will take that idea and do it better, cheaper and in less time. The reality is something altogether different. After Ford operatives get their hands on an idea, it will cost twice as much, take twice as long and be not even remotely better. The company has demonstrated time and time again that left to its own devices, it will inevitably deliver less than. Every. Single. Time.”

“Farley told analysts last week the following: “Ford has been the number one in recalls in the U.S. for the last two years. Clearly that’s not acceptable.” Clearly. You could tell that Farley’s “woe is me, we’ve got to do better” tone only went so far with the analysts. There were no details offered as to how things are actually going to get better. Why? Because Farley doesn’t have a clue as to how it’s going to get fixed. Again, we’re talking systemic failures within the company’s bureaucracy that appear and then disappear just as fast, like industrial dust in the wind…….at Ford, recalls are a cottage industry unto their own. It is so bad that they have to be purposely accounted for – “baked-in” – in the launch budgets because veteran bean counters in Dearborn know that to do otherwise would be a catastrophic mistake.”

“The Ford Motor Company is in perpetual crisis, and to pretend otherwise is to display a level of naiveté that is simply inexcusable at this juncture. Despite the lavishly orchestrated PR maneuvering surrounding its notable product “hits,” Ford is careening and searching for a clue, just when the company can least afford to be doing so.”

“Jim Farley was handpicked by Bill Ford as The Wunderkind who would return Ford to greatness. Now, he’s just another 60-year-old auto executive in search of a clue, entering the “let’s throw everything and anything against the wall and see what sticks” phase of his reign. Reasoned colleagues in this business have been persistent in their insistence to me that Farley is not only untouchable but irreplaceable. Really? They’re being woefully naive. No one in this business is untouchable or irreplaceable. No one. Ford’s upcoming involvement in F1 and Farley’s penchant for spending wads of ca$h on his vintage racing count for absolutely nothing if the company continues its rumblin’-bumblin’-stumblin’ ways.  The Bottom Line? The clock is ticking on Ford’s “I’m a genius, just ask me” CEO. ”