Formula 1

Formula 1’s Evolution: FIA’s Vision for Lighter, Smaller Cars in 2026

Exploring the FIA's Ambitious Plans and Controversies Surrounding the 2026 Regulations

In the ever-evolving world of Formula 1, change is the only constant. As the new rules for 2026 begin to take shape, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has a bold vision in mind – to make F1 cars smaller and lighter. This vision represents a significant shift in the design philosophy that has defined Formula 1 for decades.

The FIA, as the governing body of Formula 1, is currently hard at work crafting the framework for the upcoming chassis regulations. This task, while monumental, is only a part of their ambitious plan. They’re also considering the implementation of active aero technology to tackle the persistent issue of drag on the straights.

Nicholas Tombazis, the Single Seater Director at FIA, recently shed some light on what we can expect from Formula 1 in the near future. Speaking to It.Motorsport, Tombazis highlighted that the primary focus of the impending changes will revolve around the size and weight of the cars.

“With the dimensions of the wheels, which will be narrower, plus with the rear wing and the car in general, we aim to reduce the weight of the cars by around 50kg.

“So, it will be possible to see smaller single-seater cars: shorter and narrower. But we are talking about solutions that still need to be discussed.

“With the car on a diet, we will be able to reduce the cornering speeds a bit. Being lighter, they will go faster in a straight line, but will generate less aerodynamic load. So, we will need to increase the hybrid’s energy recovery to ensure adequate lap performance.”

“In addition to reducing the car’s weight,” Tombazis remarked, “the 2026 regulations have faced their fair share of controversies.” These controversies have left both drivers and team principals apprehensive about how the new power unit rules might impact the essence of wheel-to-wheel racing in Formula 1.

One specific concern that has generated considerable debate is the requirement for a 50-50 power distribution between electric and internal combustion output. This mandate has raised questions about drivers potentially having to downshift on straights to boost their hybrid systems. While these regulations may seem poised to dampen the thrill of F1 racing, Tombazis reassures us that the FIA is committed to ensuring that the sport remains exciting and competitive in 2026.

“A lot of work has been done to understand how energy recovery and management will have to be done, and how overtaking can be done based on the aerodynamic configuration.

“We have carried out many simulations by changing these parameters and we have found solutions that seem to work adequately.”

“The concerns surrounding the power output of the 2026 cars,” Tombazis stated, “do not apply to the new chassis.” His explanation lies in the fact that the engine and the chassis of an F1 car are intricately linked and evolve in tandem.

As we look ahead to 2026, the Formula 1 landscape promises innovation and excitement, underpinned by the FIA’s commitment to preserving the essence of this beloved sport. While challenges lie ahead, the FIA remains steadfast in its mission to shape a Formula 1 that is faster, more dynamic, and yet true to its racing heritage.

“If one took the 2026 power units and mounted them on the current cars, probably the result would be the scenario put forward by those who were worried.

“But in recent months, we have collected a series of very positive developments, so the comments express old positions.

“We also need to take into account that the engine and chassis will have to evolve together, and it will not be possible to think of one without the other.”

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