FIA and Formula 1 are working to finalize the chassis and aerodynamics of the 2026 cars, after having already defined the basis for studying the feasibility of the new power units announced in August. Probably, the writing of the new technical regulation should be completed within eighteen months, to offer the teams sufficient time to set up the 2026 projects. The central theme will be reduce the energy required to complete the race, considering how the energy that can be injected into the internal combustion engine will be approximately 30% lower than the current values, as a result of the new fuels and the petrol flow rate reduced from 100 kg/h to 73 kg/h. The power of the electrical part will grow, but since the recovery of energy from exhaust gases has been prohibited, it seems increasingly probable that internal combustion engines will have to burn excess petrol to feed the battery. Hence, the goal for Formula 1 in 2026 will be to reduce the energy needed to push the car.
“Overall, having a car that consumes less energy means less work wasted traveling through the air,” comments the FIA technical director Nikolas Tombazis, interviewed during the recent episode of the podcast produced by the editorial staff of TheRace. In the first place, the cars will be born with less aerodynamic resistance, but this quality will still have to be accompanied by a wider use of active aerodynamics, in addition to just the mobile rear wing. Tombazis continues: “We don’t want to compromise cornering, so the natural solution is to move towards an area, such as a movable rear wing or something similar, that allows the car to reduce drag in a straight line”. The active aerodynamics in 2026 would therefore not be reduced to the same extent as today’s DRS, given that the drivers would have absolute freedom to activate the system and not only when overtaking. It would therefore be something similar to what was already implemented in 2011, when at least in qualifying the pilots were free to use the DRS at will, facing new driving challenges such as, for example, tackling some bends with the rear wing open.
“It would be usable 100% of the time. After that, we are studying solutions that go even further and are the equivalent of the DRS”, explains Tombazis. “The aerodynamics in 2026 will be slightly more elaborate, because there would be two configurations for the performance of the car, plus the DRS on top of everything”. The idea is to estimate an additional stage for active aerodynamics to be activated exclusively during overtaking, like the DRS. In fact, Tombazis does not believe that the DRS will completely disappear from Formula 1, given that reducing aerodynamic resistance also limits the extent of the wake effect, as already experienced in 2022, facilitating close chases but hindering the decisive lunge. In any case, it still remains to be decided on which profiles and surfaces the new active aerodynamics will act on. In May, McLaren technical director James Key explained a FormulaPassion as in his opinion the system should be as simple as possible: “There are many different ways to do this. Whatever is done, however, must be intuitive. If other surfaces are included, at that point it becomes a real nightmare, but if it remains something intuitive, easy to replicate and simulate, then it will be fine”. During the podcast of The Race Tombazis has ruled out the return of active suspension in 2026, which he says is not very effective in reducing aerodynamic resistance. The FIA technical director also does not want to make driving too easy for drivers, for example with the possibility of easily adjusting the balance of the car from the cockpit. “An active hibernation could have other problemsthe. It could lead to other nodes for teams to control the platform.” concludes Tombazis.
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