Formula 1 Cars to Become Smaller and More Agile by 2026

Formula 1 Cars to Become Smaller and More Agile by 2026

The pinnacle of motorsport is set to become more spectacular and eco-friendly. By 2026, Formula 1 cars will run on 100 percent e-fuel and utilize greater electric regeneration.

The FIA has established new regulations for Formula 1 cars starting in 2026. These changes will allow cars to recover and use twice as much electric energy for propulsion, while also simplifying the powertrain. Additionally, the trend of increasingly larger and heavier cars will be reversed, with the 2026 models being smaller, lighter, and thus more agile and exciting.

The downforce generated by the underbody will be reduced by approximately 30 percent through smaller Venturi tunnels, and aerodynamic drag will decrease by 55 percent. This change eliminates the need for particularly stiff suspension settings with very low ground clearance, currently necessary to avoid undesirable oscillations (porpoising). With a greater focus on mechanical grip, the likelihood of wheel-to-wheel battles increases, as cars will be less affected by aerodynamic interference from one another.

The power output of the 1.6-liter V6 turbo engines will decrease from around 560 kW to 400 kW (540 PS). Simultaneously, the electric motor output will increase from 120 kW to 350 kW (470 PS). To achieve this, the energy recovered per lap must double to 8.5 megajoules. The higher electric output will also eliminate the need for a complex turbo system with anti-lag functionality, making the engines simpler and cheaper to build, and reducing the cars’ overall weight by 30 kilograms.

Improving Environmental Friendliness

Formula 1 also aims to advance the development of sustainable fuels and transition to 100 percent renewable fuel by 2026. While this won’t offset the numerous flight hours and high logistical demands of the racing series, it is expected to accelerate the development and mass adoption of eco-friendly propulsion concepts, thereby having a broader positive impact.

Additionally, F1 cars will have a wheelbase 20 centimeters shorter, down to a maximum of 3.4 meters, and will be 10 centimeters narrower, making them better suited for tighter race tracks. A new overtaking mode will allow the electric motor to operate at full power up to a speed of 337 km/h when a car gets within one second of the car ahead. Normally, electric assistance will be reduced above 270 km/h to limit top speed.

These changes are aimed at making Formula 1 not only more thrilling for fans but also more sustainable for the environment. The updated regulations promise a new era of racing with lighter, faster, and more energy-efficient cars on the track.