Red Bull’s leading racer, Max Verstappen, recently expressed apprehensions regarding the forthcoming 2026 Formula 1 engine regulations. These new mandates call for a balanced 50-50 power output between combustion and electric sources. Such directives, however, pose significant concerns for the Austrian outfit. They argue that the rules’ requirements, such as the necessity for “colossal” battery sizes and advanced cooling systems, are excessive.
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, anticipates that these regulations will eventually lead to “drivers downshifting on straights to regenerate batteries”. This view is shared by Verstappen, who voiced his own reservations after his victory at the Austrian Grand Prix. As reported by The Race, Verstappen noted:
“That’s not the way forward. It looks like it’s going to be an ICE competition. So, whoever has the strongest engine will have a big benefit. But I don’t think that should be the intention of Formula 1, because then you will start a massive development war again, and it will become quite expensive to find a few horsepower here and there. It should be the opposite. Plus, the cars probably have a lot less drag so it will be even harder to overtake on the straight.”
Verstappen didn’t hold back his criticism of the changes, including the increasing developmental costs, potential difficulties in straight-line overtaking, and the complications presented by system-controlled active aerodynamics. He explained further:
“Then you have the active aerodynamics, which you [the driver] can’t control, the system will control it for you. It makes it very awkward to drive because I prefer to control it myself. Of course, when you are behind someone maybe you need more front or more rear, this kind of thing. If the system starts to control that for you, I don’t think that’s the right way forward. Plus the weight is going up again. So, yeah, we have to seriously look at this, because ’26 is not that far away. It looks very bad, from all the numbers and what I see from the data already. It’s not something I am very excited about at the moment.”