Formula 1

FIA Announces 2026 Formula 1 Car Development Freeze

A Game-Changing Decision to Ensure Fair Play and Exciting Races

In a game-changing move during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has taken a decisive step to level the playing field in Formula 1. The governing body has officially confirmed a ban on all Formula 1 teams from working on their 2026 cars throughout the entirety of the upcoming year. This bold decision is aimed at preventing any early advantages in the next generation of car development, ensuring fair competition for all teams.

The decision, in accordance with the updated 2024 sporting regulations, imposes strict restrictions on teams’ car development efforts. Teams are now prohibited from using wind tunnels or Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations that comply with or derive from the 2026 F1 technical regulations. This ban extends to RWTT (restricted wind tunnel testing), which, from December 1, 2023, to January 1, 2025, must exclusively use scale models adhering to the 2023, 2024, or 2025 F1 technical regulations. This comprehensive restriction ensures that no team gains an unfair advantage by starting development on the new-spec cars earlier than their competitors.

In addition to the ban on car development, the FIA has made noteworthy adjustments in various areas of the sporting regulations. The required notification period for a standing restart has been significantly reduced from two minutes to just one minute, adding an element of unpredictability and excitement to race restarts. Furthermore, the pitlane opening time has been trimmed by ten minutes, streamlining race operations and enhancing the overall race experience for fans.

Another significant change is the introduction of limitations on pitlane car work before the race begins. This alteration will affect how teams prepare their cars on the grid, potentially introducing new strategic elements into race planning. Moreover, there has been a shift in the approach to post-qualifying scrutineering, further tightening the scrutiny on technical compliance and ensuring fairness in the sport.

The regulations expressly declare:

“In order to prevent testing which aims to develop for the 2026 season, from 1/12/2023 until 1/1/2025 inclusive, RWTT may only be carried out using a scale model that substantially complies with the 2023, 2024 or 2025 F1 technical regulations.”

Safety remains a top priority for the FIA, and their ongoing efforts to reduce spray in wet weather conditions have garnered attention. In response to an evaluation at Silverstone, the FIA has allocated four additional testing days to address this issue. These measures are part of a broader initiative to improve safety and race quality in challenging weather conditions, promising more exciting and incident-free races.

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