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F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes

F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes

10/04/2024

F1 drivers are increasingly vocal about the significant changes expected in 2026, focusing on the balance between electric power and driving dynamics.

By 2026, half of the power under the driver’s right foot will need to be generated by the electric motor. Christian Horner sounded the alarm last year, warning of the potential for drivers to ease off the throttle midway down the straights to generate enough energy recovery.

However, the new radical aerodynamic rules are designed to counteract this effect, with rear wings that move in a straight line, significantly reducing drag.

But initial simulations by several F1 teams suggest the outcome could be cars that are nearly impossible to drive, with too little rear downforce compared to the front and a high risk of spinning out very (too) easily. A possible solution could be to make the front wings movable as well.

Echoing his team, Red Bull, Max Verstappen has not been convinced by the new aerodynamic (and engine) regulations for F1, slated for 2026. The cars promise to be slower, indeed lighter, but also less fun, according to the Dutch driver.

Will F1 drivers have to go as far as lifting off the throttle at the end of the straights, as Red Bull feared a year ago?

This theory seems sidelined for now. However, Max Verstappen remains unimpressed with certain future features, such as active aerodynamics.

“We’ll have to make compromises on some tracks, where a lot of energy per lap is used. And of course, you know, the potential for other things, like active aerodynamics, has to be considered. I’m not sure we should be moving in that direction. That’s the situation for now.”

“I hope we can optimize all these things. For me, it’s more important to try and combat the weight of the cars, to try and optimize it rather than using all these tools and tricks to try and aid overtaking or the ability of F1 cars to follow each other. There have to be different ways to achieve this.”

“Regarding the engine regulations… they sort of need to do this (increase electric power) to find top speed… Essentially you know where and when the electric battery stops deploying its energy.”

“And yes, on some circuits, it’ll work a bit better, on others, it might be a bit more on the edge. Of course, people will try to counter my arguments, but I think we’ll find out anyway. I don’t think too much about it, of course, because we have a lot of work for the seasons up until 2026. But we’ll see if we can improve it a bit.”

Sainz Calls for Active Suspensions from the FIA

F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes

Carlos Sainz, who might make a switch to Audi in 2026, is also skeptical about both active aerodynamics and the increased reliance on electric power. Is Formula 1 shooting itself in the foot?

“It all stems from the engine regulations. Ultimately, if more energy is demanded from the electric power unit, there must, in some way, be active aerodynamics to compensate. And that’s where things start to go awry with overtaking and active aerodynamics – to assist the car in going faster on the straights and to spend less time at full throttle.”

“Regardless, until we’ve tried all this, I think it’s unfair to criticize or support the regulation change.”

And naturally, Carlos Sainz is thinking of a certain German manufacturer…

“At the same time, if it’s attracted manufacturers, major ones like Audi, to the sport, I think that’s something to appreciate and put into context.”

“Personally, I think these current cars are probably too big and too heavy. If I had to change something for tomorrow, that would be it. And then the suspension… I think suspensions are becoming a big topic of discussion on many circuits. We’ve seen, in some corners, how challenging it can be for the driver.”

Thus, the Ferrari driver makes a suggestion to the FIA to alleviate the physical strain on F1 drivers: following active aerodynamics, why not introduce active suspensions?

“And so, if I had to request something from the FIA for 2026… It would be that: if we are going to have active aerodynamics, why not introduce active suspensions to protect the drivers’ backs and our own health and safety on some tracks. Because it’s clear that now we are demanding too much from circuits, from organizations, to change many little bumps that before we didn’t even feel with the 2021 car. And now we can have quite a significant accident because of these situations. So if I had to request or add one thing, it would be something to protect us a bit on this front.”

F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes. F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes. formula one F1 Drivers Voice Concerns Over 2026 Rule Changes

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