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F1 cars set for DRAMATIC transformation as FIA confirm regulations

F1 cars set for DRAMATIC transformation as FIA confirm regulations

F1 cars set for DRAMATIC transformation as FIA confirm regulations

F1 cars set for DRAMATIC transformation as FIA confirm regulations

The FIA has revealed a raft of changes to Formula 1's technical regulations ahead of the 2026 season.

This features a more ‘nimble’ F1 car which will be ‘lighter and smaller’ to enhance overtaking.

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Furthermore, F1 has reinforced their commitment to sustainability with their all new power unit evenly split between internal combustion and electrical power.

2026 will also see the introduction of active aerodynamics, and an energy boost to use as an overtaking device.

GPFans have unpacked the new regulations, to understand how these new rules will transfer to the racetrack.

The FIA have unveiled the 2026 F1 regulations

Will overtaking improve with F1’s ‘nimble’ chassis?

The 2026 design will be lighter and smaller than current F1 cars, scaled down to promote racing and overtaking.

A ‘nimble’ concept is at the heart of these new regulations, with the size and the weight of F1 cars reduced by 30 kg, and the width shrinking from 200 cm to 190cm.

Downforce has also lessened by 30% and drag by 55%, to improve efficiency and handling.

"Lighter, more powerful and more focused on driver skill, the 2026 FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations have been designed to provide closer racing among drivers, increase the competition between teams and improve the spectacle,” the FIA’s single seater director Nikolas Tombazis explained.

Nikolas Tombazis hopes the new regulations will promote overtaking

Will DRS be replaced?

DRS will not be used to enhance overtaking from 2026, with a push-to-pass style boost being introduced instead.

A Manual Override will provide drivers with an on-demand burst of battery power when close to the car ahead.

FIA single seater technical director Jan Monchaux explained how the new overtaking mode will operate on the racetrack.

“So [when] you enter the straight and the car is fairly close to the other to help the overtaking – since both cars will have rear wing open and front wing flap open – we are going to allow the car behind to deploy more electrical energy for a given portion of time during that lap,” Monchaux said.

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Jan Monchaux explains the all new Manual Override

“Right now with the DRS you are behind a car, within a second, that ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS in a straight line.

“This will not be the case anymore. However, the logic will be the same: I’m close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for that one lap, which I can deploy any way I want.

“The extra amount of energy is defined and that will give that boost of energy to eventually give the following car a chance to overtake by the end of the straight.”

How does active aero work?

Active aero will be introduced for 2026

Active aero allows the drivers to switch between a standard high downforce (Z-Mode) or to activate a low drag mode (X-Mode).

The system involves movable front and rear wings, with both modes designed to increase speed at the relevant part of the track.

X-Mode’s low drag configuration will maximise straight-line speed, where as Z-Mode will result in greater cornering speeds.

The FIA’s head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville explained the difference between active aero and F1’s current drag reduction system.

“The difference between the DRS on the current car and the plans for the 2026 car really comes down to the use around the lap,” he said.

“Typically, DRS is an overtaking aid, and you grant DRS when you're within one second of a lead car at specific points.

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F1 currently uses DRS to aid overtaking

“With the 2026 car, we'll be giving the drivers the ability to switch between the high-downforce and low-drag modes irrespective of any gaps.

“So, at pre-defined points around the lap, a driver will be able to switch to a low-drag mode to give them the performance down the straights where they're not grip limited.

“Then, as you approach the braking zone, you'll switch back to your high-downforce mode.”

In a bid to introduce nimbler cars, the front wing will be 100mm narrower and will feature a two-element active flap.

Is F1’s new power unit sustainable?

Efficiency and sustainability are at the heart of the power unit changes for 2026, with an even split between internal combustion and electric power, and an almost 300% increase in electrical power.

F1 also has its eyes on the future with the 2026 power unit, through the removal of the MGU-H and the expansion of electrical power.

According to the FIA: “The 2026 power is the most road relevant yet seen in Formula 1, and in tandem with 100% sustainable fuel provides a forward-thinking platform for transferrable future innovation.”

In addition, a record number of engine manufacturers will compete from 2026, including Ferrari, Mercedes and Alpine, Honda, Audi and Red Bull Ford Powertrains.

READ MORE: Mercedes to Ferrari? Wolff delivers verdict on NUMEROUS key figures departing


Red Bull Mercedes Formula 1 FIA Hamilton Nikolas Tombazis
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