F1 unveils 'nimble' car for new era starting in 2026

rugby06 June 2024 13:37| © Reuters
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Formula One will enter a new era in 2026 with smaller and lighter cars featuring active aerodynamics and a Manual Override system to unleash more electrical power and help make racing closer and more exciting.

The governing FIA presented the technical regulations on Thursday and said the new generation of 'nimble' cars would be 30kg lighter with better efficiency and handling.

The simpler hybrid power units will have almost 300 per cent more battery power and an even split between internal combustion and electric.

Manual override, effectively replacing the Drag Reduction System (DRS), will provide an on-demand burst of battery power to create more overtaking opportunities.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem hailed "a unique revision that will ensure our premier championship is even more relevant to what is happening in the world".

"We have created a set of regulations designed to not only improve racing but also to make the championship even more attractive to PU (power unit) manufacturers, OEMs and existing competitors," he said in a statement.

"The key features of the 2026 F1 Regulations are advanced, sustainability technology and safety. Our aim, together with Formula One, was to produce a car that was right for the future of the sport’s elite category. We believe we have achieved that goal."

Formula One will have 10 teams and six power unit manufacturers from 2026 – Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Honda, Audi and Red Bull Ford – and the cars will run on 100 per cent 'drop- in' sustainable fuel.

The regulations, revealed in Montreal ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, will be ratified by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council on 28 June.


The width of the cars will shrink from 2.0 metres to 1.9, with the maximum floor width reduced by 150mm and the wheelbase dropping from a maximum of 3.6 metres to 3.4.

The 2026 cars will weigh a minimum 768kg while downforce will be reduced by 30 per cent and drag by 55 per cent. The width of the front tyres will be reduced by 25mm and the rears by 30mm, also saving weight.

Active aerodynamics systems involve movable front and rear wings, producing greater cornering speeds with the standard 'Z' mode deployed.

Drivers can then switch to a low drag 'X' mode on the straights to go faster. The rear wing will have three elements and the narrower front wing a two element active flap.

"We need to have a car concept that suits the power unit," said the FIA's single seater technical director Jan Monchaux.

"So the decision was made to go for what we have called a 'nimble' car, a slightly smaller car with less downforce, but with a big focus on less drag.

"Right now with the DRS you are behind a car, within a second, that ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS in a straight line. This will not be the case anymore.

"However, the logic will be the same: I'm close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for that one lap, which I can deploy any way I want."

Front wheel arches will be removed and the cars will feature a partially flat floor and lower-powered diffuser to reduce the ground effect.

New safety measures include increased side intrusion protection, significantly brighter rear wing endplate lights and increased roll hoop loads.