What’s concerning teams about F1 2026 plans

Formula 1 teams are skeptical about whether some of the FIA's targets for the 2026 rules can be met, following the public release of concept images and information this week.

Although the 2026 regulations have not been finalized – approval is due to come later this month by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council – there was an important announcement by the governing body on Thursday at the Canadian Grand Prix. .

In addition to showing the first official look at the basic concept of the new rules, the FIA ​​shared important details including the car's performance profile, weight reduction target and new active aerodynamics.

This is despite the regulations still being in a state of flux, with some changes being made this week, and ongoing discussions between the Technical Advisory Committee – which can actually guide regulatory changes – and at a larger level among key stakeholders.

The 2026 rules will form a key part of a semi-regular meeting between Formula 1 and FIA bosses and team bigwigs in Montreal on Saturday, the same day the FIA ​​will hold a press conference on the regulations.

The message from many teams so far is that the targets outlined in the FIA ​​plan published this week cannot be achieved with the rules in their current form.

This does not mean a complete rejection of the proposals, but rather a feeling that they are not well defined and need to be improved rather than completely written off.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Crack described what the FIA ​​shared as “the first publication” while “we are still a long way from the final publication.” But his McLaren counterpart Andrea Stella went further.

While Stella stressed that McLaren supports the intentions and objectives “at a high level” in the 2026 rules, he said that the draft regulations that the teams are clearly aware of – in their current form – are “still far from being able to deliver on the agreed objectives and intention”.

One pressure point is the end-June deadline for approving large parts of the technical regulations, in accordance with the FIA's international sporting code, before Formula 1 management leaves it at the mercy of a major agreement request to make changes to potentially key elements. To draw different opinions.

The car's performance is out of control

One detail the FIA ​​shared on Thursday was how dramatically the cars' performance profile will change for 2026.

A 55% reduction in drag and a 30% reduction in downforce will be achieved through a combination of changed vehicle dimensions, new engines, overhauled active aerodynamics and reduced ground effect force through changes to the floor and diffuser.

It is quite clear that this will result in a very different Formula 1 car – one that is slower in the corners and much faster on the straights. It is directly linked to the drag reduction system in its current form being dropped and replaced by a combination of a push-to-pass style system of hybrid and moving front and rear wings to create low-drag modes.

The active aero system has raised some concerns because while the low-drag mode will be activated for the driver and can be manually returned to the normal setting, it will also have automated elements similar to the current DRS system as touching the brake should reset it as well. Some teams want to better understand how the whole concept works.

But the performance aspect of aerodynamic plans – including how fast the cars can physically go – is one of the main concerns raised. Stella said simply: “As the draft regulations stand, the cars are not fast enough in the corners and too fast on the straights. These aspects need to be rebalanced.”

Williams team boss James Vowles believes a “mismatch” in cornering and straight-line speed threatens to negate F1’s lap time advantage over the F2 feeder series to “less than a few seconds” – which would leave F1 Likely to be outperformed by other top tier chains in pure performance terms.

Among other aerodynamic elements raised by Vowles was the lack of freedom in the draft regulations, which Williams chief technical officer Pat Fry said should be opened up.

“Yes, it's very light in terms of downforce at the moment, but it's very easy to increase it a little bit and get to a place where it can be practical,” he said.

“We engineers are always complaining about the constraints and how hard they are prescribed, and they are very prescribed.

“But it's relatively straightforward because I think the FIA ​​has come in and said 'this is what we want' and written some rules and they have to give us some room to actually adjust.

“There are a lot of challenges in the flow structure, so we need some freedom to try to fix.”

Chassis bases need engine assistance

Since the 2026 Power Unit Regulations were originally published in August 2022, the focus in achieving what Stella calls the intent and objectives of the regulations is on the chassis rules.

When asked by The Race to clarify its questions about the effectiveness of the rules in achieving these goals, Stella pointed to the need to amend the power unit regulations.

“The main gaps are in the third article, which is the aerodynamic regulations, and the second is the way the power units are intended to be used, which needs to be modified,” he said.

“We can still achieve the 50/50 concept [in terms of the contribution of internal combustion energy power output and electrical power output]but this can be achieved in a way that does not place too many requirements on the chassis side, which is then difficult.

“From a power unit point of view, and similarly, from a structure point of view, it is time for all parties to understand that they need to contribute to the success of this.”

Stella's reference to “all parties” refers to engine manufacturers, most of which are unlikely to want to amend the rules given that they are already advanced in terms of development. But what Stella says reflects the fact that these rules were created around the power units first, in order to satisfy the desires of the manufacturers, with the chassis rules being used to compensate for the problems this creates in terms of performance.

In order to obtain the necessary engine power, measures such as increasing the fuel flow limit can be taken. However, that would change the 50/50 power split that Stella refers to. So the answer could lie in broader energy management regulations.

Whether engine manufacturers are willing to make such changes given that the regulations have been in place for almost two years is another question.

Unrealistic weight loss?

Reducing the minimum weight by 30kg, from the current 798kg, is a popular target – described by Max Verstappen as the “ideal scenario” – but one that teams have serious concerns about achieving. The so-called “minimum mass” in the regulations is just a number and there are legitimate questions about whether it is a realistic target.

“I've been really honest from Williams' point of view, but I don't think anyone is going to hit that weight target particularly, it's going to be very difficult,” Fowles said. “This needs to be reviewed, because [for] “Someone who spends their life making marginal gains by taking the weight off a car, that's not fun.”

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso also raised concerns, describing achieving a 30kg weight reduction as impossible due to the weight of the power unit.

“If you put the power unit on [to] “Being 50% electric we need the batteries to back that up, and the cars and tires are heavier as well,” Alonso said. “The cars will gain 20 or 30 kg because of the power unit. And then you want to reduce it, so in theory you need to drop 60 kg from the current car, which at the moment probably seems to the team an impossible goal.

It should be noted that the minimum weight rule is not mandatory and there is no philosophical obligation on teams to implement it. However, this is clearly an important goal given the cost of extra weight in lap time and other disadvantages in terms of extra energy entering the tyres.

Fry hinted that special provisions to accommodate the weight of heavier drivers – set out in the current 80kg rules – have been rolled back in the 2026 draft regulation. So instead of cars having a minimum weight plus 80kg for the driver, in 2026 The minimum weight will be plus what the driver weighs – bad news if you're taller and heavier.

“they [the FIA] They prefer to challenge us with the rules, especially on weight, so we have to make sure the driver's weight is reasonable and we don't compromise on the heavier driver, which was there initially and then they backed out, so we want to get that back,” Fry said.

“The scale of the weight challenge is absolutely massive. It's a very heavy power unit, a battery pack, all that side of things, and with the chassis mounts up. It's a massive challenge, so we have to be rational and come to compromises.

“It's almost as if we're blindly going 'well, if we can make the car lighter it'll go faster' and ignoring the fact that it's difficult for anyone to get close to it. And obviously the closer you get the more expensive it is.”

“So you almost need to come up with a difficult but achievable goal and then push it down year after year and get an escalator or something to get it back up. It's all been talked about and maybe it'll come back or maybe it won't.


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