Formula 1 teams believe there is much room for improvement in the planned new rules for 2026 announced this week.

While team bosses expressed support for the goals behind the changes, they see many potential problems with the draft regulations revealed by the FIA.

The regulations must be approved by the end of the month in order to be introduced in 2026. But after seeing the first version of the rules Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack believes they are “quite far away still from the final one.”

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said his team also “are in agreement and we support the intent and the objectives at high level that were stated in the press release.

“However, if we look at the regulations in the draft form that has been circulated, they are still far from being able to achieve those agreeable objectives and intent.”

He said the teams and the FIA, as well as Formula One Management need to “contribute to form a solution that will allow the sport to meet those objectives.”

The four team principals in yesterday’s FIA press conference described seven problem areas with the rules.


Teams have removed paint from their liveries to reduce the weight of the cars

F1 cars in 2024 are almost 200 kilograms heavier than they were 15 years ago, albeit including an 80kg allowance for drivers which was added five years ago. Even without that, the cars of today are 17% heavier than their predecessors from 2009.

2026 F1 car rendering - front
Analysis: Z-mode and X-mode – How Formula 1’s new active aero will work in 2026

The FIA intends to partially reverse that in 2024. It has set the minimum weight limit at 768kg, down from 798kg. But teams believe even this modest reduction will be hard to achieve.

“I don’t think anyone will hit that weight target particularly,” said Williams team principal James Vowles, whose 2024 car began the year over the minimum weight limit. “It’s going to be incredibly difficult.

“I think that needs reviewing because, as someone that spends their life going through marginal gains, taking weight out of a car, it’s not a fun thing to do.”

Car weights have risen due to several reasons including the introduction of hybrid power units in 2014, the addition of stronger impact-resistant structures such as the Halo in 2018, and the move towards the greater use of standardised components.

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Power unit use

Mercedes PU106C power unit, 2016
Changes to the power units for 2026 have prompted new chassis regulations

Formula 1 agreed its next set of power unit regulations two years ago. The key changes include a less powerful combustion engine and much more powerful electrical motor, meaning each contributes roughly 50% of the total power output. The new rules will come into force in 2026 and have been credited for enticing new manufacturers to enter the sport, including Ford and Audi (as well as potentially Cadillac).

The chassis regulations announced this week are intended to ensure F1 cars continue to deliver high performance while also allowing them to race close together. But some teams feel too many compromises have been made on the chassis side to accommodate the power units, and some alterations are needed.

“The way in which the power units are planned to be used needs to be adjusted,” said Stella. “We can still achieve a 50-50 concept, which is a nice concept, but it can be achieved in a way that doesn’t put so much of our requirement on the chassis side, which then is difficult to meet.

“So I think from a power unit point of view, likewise from a chassis point of view, it’s time that all parties understand that they need to contribute to the success of the sport.”

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Speed balance

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Some drivers have warned the 2026 rules will make top speed dangerously high

In order to maintain current performance levels with the new hybrids, the FIA will allow teams to use active aerodynamics from 2026. The cars will have two states: A high-downforce ‘Z mode’ for cornering and a low-downforce ‘X mode’ where the front and rear wings are lowered on the straights to reduce drag.

The aerodynamic surfaces of the cars are also being reduced, including the floor, which will be simplified compared to the current versions. This has raised fears among some teams, as well as drivers who have tested the rules in simulators, that straight-line speeds will hit dangerous new highs while cornering performance will be too poor.

“The cars are not fast enough in the corners and too fast in the straights,” said Stella. “So these two aspects need to be rebalanced.”

Different rules for different tracks

Monza, 2023
The new rules may have to be altered for some tracks

Although it was not stated by the FIA in their announcement this week, there are concerns the new rules may not work as desired at every track on the calendar, and different restrictions may have to be imposed at some venues.

The rules will limit how quickly teams can draw power from the MGU-K on straights. However on tracks with a higher proportion of flat-out sections and a lower proportion of heavy braking areas this could lead to drivers running out of electrical power too early. This was behind the warnings from some teams last year that drivers may have to down-shift on the straights.

Reportedly, the FIA is considering reducing the rate at which teams may use their electrical boost at tracks such as Monza, Spa, Baku, Silverstone, Jeddah and Las Vegas.

Krack acknowledged this possibility exists and pointed out it will be difficult to explain this variation to fans. “If we have different energy management from track to track or constraints on the car that makes one car maybe go to the front, one to the back, and then how to explain this?” he said. “So I think that is something that we really need to keep in mind.”

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Too slow overall

Kush Maini, Invicta, Imola, 2024
Formula 2 could end up almost as quick as Formula 1 in 2026

Despite the potential for the cars to be much quicker on the straights, the loss of performance through the corners is potentially so great the current cars will become a lot slower. Lewis Hamilton said other drivers have warned him the new cars will be “pretty slow”.

Vowles said he also has concerns over “physically how fast the cars will be” in 2026 and stressed “it’s imperative that we are still the leading series in motorsport.”

“The performance difference to an F2 car could be as small as a few seconds,” he said, “and that’s starting to get a little bit tight, especially when you compare it to the other series around the world.”

Limits on design

Ayao Komatsu, Haas, Silverstone, 2024
Komatsu is keen to ensure teams still have room to innovate

New regulations are often greeted with warnings that they will take away designers’ freedom and make cars look too alike. The 2026 rules are no exception.

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu said he was concerned about the “freedom of design, especially on the aerodynamic side” under the new rules.

“At the moment in the draft regulations, I’m not sure if that balance is hit right in terms of how things are prescribed.”

F1 is one of few remaining forms of motor sport where teams are required to design and build their own cars. Komatsu said it’s important to the sport’s identity to allow some freedom for designers.

“All those philosophies, how we present ourselves as the pinnacle of motorsports, in terms of engineering as well, to have some freedom or probably a bit more increased freedom in aerodynamics, that is important as well. So again, there’s various aspects we need to look into to make it really represent the pinnacle of motorsport.”

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Mike Krack, Andrea Stella, Ayao Komatsu, James Vowles, Montreal, 2024
Not all team principals are concerned the rules will become too complicated

The new regulations will usher in several new concepts. The Drag Reduction System will no longer exist, but the new ‘Z mode’ and ‘X mode’ philosophy means active aerodynamics will remain. DRS will be replaced by a new means of artificially handicapping the leading car by allowing its pursuer to use more power.

Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Analysis: DRS out, “Manual Override Mode” in – F1’s new overtaking aid explained

Krack is concerned this means F1 will have too many complicated concepts to explain and that will put fans off. “I think it’s a lot of engineering language,” he said.

“It’s like ‘Z mode’, ‘X mode’, energy management and so on. In terms of complexity, I think we need to focus on the product and the fan, and the spectator.

“I’m a bit scared that in 2026, we will have driver press conferences or driver interviews speaking about all these technicalities that a lot of people will not understand and lose interest just because of that. So that is something that I think we need to be really careful.”

However Stella believes followers of the sport will quickly get used to the new terminology. “I think some part of the complexity is more in the language than in the substance,” he said.

“The concept of opening DRS is very well established. And also I think that some of the complexity that is still lingering on and I think still especially on the power unit side, is because of the immaturity of the regulations.

“I think once they mature, they will become even simpler. Or at least I would hope that we can achieve both things through the work of development and collaboration.”

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