The plan for the next F1 generation is in place. In the 2026 season, the racing cars should be shorter, lighter, safer and more environmentally friendly. In the case of the engines, the first concrete framework conditions have already been established. However, the details of the drive development are still being debated.
Formula 1 sets the course for the future. At the meeting of the F1 Commission on Tuesday (April 26) in London, not only the new rules for 2023 were on the agenda, but also the long-term plans for the next engine formula and the upcoming racing car generation, which are due together in 2026 are to be launched.
The FIA World Council had already approved the framework conditions for the drive system in December. It will continue to be a 1.6-liter V6 engine coupled with a hybrid system. The expensive MGU-H will be eliminated in the future. For this, significantly more energy should be recuperated via the brakes. A total of 50 percent of the total power should be delivered to the rear axle via electric motors.
In order to create a CO2-neutral drive, the FIA has already started testing 100 percent sustainable petrol. Formula 1 currently uses fuel with a 10 percent organic content. However, the eco and savings course must not be at the expense of the show. Overall, Power 2026 should be at the same level as today. The new regulations are also intended to guarantee that there are no major differences in horsepower between the individual manufacturers.
Disputes still unresolved
The general conditions also stipulated that it should be easier for new manufacturers to enter Formula 1. This is primarily aimed at the two VW brands Porsche and Audi, which recently received the go-ahead from the Group's supervisory board to enter the market. The newcomers are pushing for the new engine regulations to be passed by June, as promised, to make entry plans official and work to begin.
For example, there is still a dispute about the amount of the budget cap for the development of the engines. Currently there is a figure of 140 million US dollars per year. The question is how high the extra bonus is for newcomers. Sums of between five and ten million US dollars a year were last discussed here. There is also still a need for discussion when it comes to the permitted test bench hours, the battery size and the charging capacity.
Those responsible can take a little longer with the regulations for the rest of the car. Here, the lead time for development is not quite as great as with the engines. But here, too, the F1 committees have already set the framework so that the fans know where the journey is going.
Targets for new cars
The aim is to significantly reduce air resistance with the new generation of racing cars in order to increase efficiency and reduce consumption.Of course, the action mustn't suffer either. The aerodynamics have already been modified for 2022 so that the cars can follow each other more easily. The next regulations should build on the progress made and ideally ensure even more duels on the slopes.
Those responsible also promised that the trend towards ever longer and heavier cars would not only be stopped but reversed. With the current regulations, a limitation of the wheelbase to 3.60 meters has been stipulated for the first time. F1 technical director Pat Symonds can imagine that the space between the axles can be saved by another 30 centimeters.
In order to further reduce costs, the number of standard components should be increased. In addition, one wants to pay attention to the environmental compatibility of the permitted materials. Last but not least, they want to increase safety again with the next generation of vehicles. According to the plans, a step is to be taken in the direction of an "active and networked security system".