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FIA announces new F1 technical regulations for 2026

Return to smaller cars, and more electrical power with a focus on sustainability

Good news! F1 cars are getting even smaller. IMAGE FROM FORMULA 1

The FIA has unveiled the “agile, competitive, safer and more sustainable” set of technical regulations that will define Formula 1 from 2026 and beyond.

Revised aerodynamic regulations will work in tandem with new power unit rules, which include increased battery power and the use of 100% sustainable fuels.

While power from the hybrid ICE unit has dropped from 550-560kW to 400kW (536hp), the battery element has risen significantly from 120kW to 350kW (469hp)—an almost 300% increase in electric power, thus delivering a higher total system output of 750kW (1,005hp).

The new engine regulations focus on an increase in electrical power output. IMAGE FROM FORMULA 1

The amount of energy that can be recuperated during the braking phase is doubled to 8.5 megajoules per lap. It also adds a manual override system that will provide drivers with on-demand battery power when within one second of the car in front, similar to how the Drag Reduction System works.

All existing powertrain suppliers (Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault) have committed to the changes, with Honda being enticed to continue as a powertrain supplier. This is an encouraging sign for new suppliers Audi and Ford (the latter partnering with Red Bull powertrains) as they enter the sport with all-new regulations that should, in theory, level the playing field in their first year in the series.

The reduction in width and length should help make racing even more exciting. IMAGES FROM FORMULA 1

The 2026 F1 chassis will be smaller, lighter, and nimbler to aid agility and maneuverability, without compromising on safety. The maximum wheelbase is reduced by 200mm to 3,400mm, while the width has been cut by 100mm to 1,900mm.

Weight is down to 768kg, 30kg less than its predecessor. Downforce is lessened by 30%, but offset with a 55% drag reduction.

Pirelli’s 18-inch wheel-and-tire setup remains, but is now slightly narrower (-25mm up front and -30mm in the rear), reducing mechanical grip.

Active front and rear wings produce less downforce, but have less drag. IMAGE FROM FORMULA 1

Active aero is also being introduced, with a movable front and rear wing angle that optimizes either straight-line speed and efficiency or maximum cornering grip. This new active aero system should deliver bigger performance gains as opposed to the existing DRS system.

Despite the new cars being smaller and more agile, the latest technical regulations have greater safety in mind. A two-stage nose design to mitigate the risk of detachment in initial impacts, and more stringent side intrusion rules around the driver and the fuel cell area have been improved.

We're excited to see what teams can cook up with this new formula. IMAGE FROM FORMULA 1

The FIA says sustainability is a key item in the 2026 regulations, helping it to achieve its Net Zero Carbon goal.

The use of 100% sustainable fuels and an even split of 50% thermal and 50% electric energy should improve efficiency, and trickle down to road-car technology in a sport known for its no-holds-barred approach to winning.

All in all, this presents greater parity among machines thanks to the technology advantage being reset to zero in 2026, a reduction in size and weight and aero performance, greater reliance on the electrical system, and active aero.

Here’s hoping we’ll see more intense races, a greater focus on the driver’s skills, and an end to the monopoly of just one or two teams always competing for the win.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.