Skip to main content

FIA releases details on next-gen 2026 F1 racecars – DRS is gone

Next-gen F1 racecars will be smaller, lighter, and run on biofuel

Direct front view of a 2026 F1 racecar according to new FIA regulations.
FIA / FIA

We are still in the first half of the 2024 Formula 1 racing schedule, but the FIA motorsports governing organization is already focused on rules and regulations for the 2026 season. That’s when all F1 teams will be required to race cars significantly different from the current generation. The next-generation F1 racecars will be smaller and lighter than today. The new cars will have hybrid powertrains that run on biofuel, plus the power split between the ICE motor and electricity generation will change.

Why 2026 F1 race car specs matter

Left profile of a 2026 F1 racecar according to new FIA regulations.
FIA / FIA

Formula 1 committed to be carbon neutral by 2030, including the fossil fuel usage of the masses of spectators who travel to attend F1 races worldwide. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) creates and enforces complex rules and regulations for F1 sporting, technical, and financial operations.

The FIA updates the rules yearly, but this period is special because a new generation of F1 racecars will debut in 2026. The FIA leadership was responsible for founding the all-electric Formula E race car series because the oversight entity is taking an active role in casting motorsports as a force for positive change, in this case, to lessen the hazards and costs of climate damage. It may be closest to the core to say the FIA wants to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Changes with 2026 F1 race cars

Overhead view of a 2026 F1 racecar according to new FIA regulations.
FIA / FIA

The FIA specifications for F1 racecars for 2026 and beyond are not complete, with further details to come during the rest of this year. F1 teams cannot begin development work on their new cars until January 1, 2025, which will give them a year. A full year may seem like a long time, but the schedules will be tight. F1 engines alone can cost $10 million each, and the upcoming changes cover many more areas than the powertrains.

This post isn’t the place to get too deep into the weeds on the specifications changes, but here are the basics. The new F1 racecars will be shorter, narrower, and weigh less than current cars. The cars will use smaller wheels and tires. The F1 hybrid powertrains, which use power from the ICE engine and electricity generating and capturing components, will increase the proportional use of electrical energy. Also, the new engines must run on biofuel.

According to the FIA, today’s F1 racecar DRS (downforce reduction system) will no longer be allowed. DRS is a system that temporarily reduces aerodynamic drag on a racecar by lowering a section of a racecar’s rear wing. DRS is used to overtake a car in front by reducing air resistance for a short time. DRS is only allowed on straight sections of F1 circuits, and several restrictions exist, including how close the car is to the car in front. DRS has fans and haters, but it will be gone. The new cars will likely have a closely defined boost mode, but DRS is dead as of the end of the 2025 season.

The changes in the FIA specifications for the 2026 season and beyond will put teams and engine suppliers to the test of creating power systems that emit much lower harmful emissions. To the extent that F1 racing is a testing ground for new automotive technologies, the new rules and regulations can have a much broader impact than how much easier it will be to pass competitors when the cars are smaller.

Right front three-quarter view of a 2026 F1 racecar according to new FIA regulations.
FIA / FIA
Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
You can buy the very first Lotus F1 car
Own a piece of Fi history: the first Lotus car
first lotus f1 car auction image ef6c6e

Collecting cars is a passion that allows for all sorts of niche vehicles to go for astronomical prices for a myriad of reasons. Maybe it was a poster of a Lamborghini Countach on your wall as a kid, or the first Porsche you ever saw just happened to be a 911 Slant Nose Turbo, or maybe it has been your lifelong obsession with F1 racing that has you fixated on not wanting, but needing to own a piece of the sport. Well, now is your chance to get your hands on a truly one-of-a-kind car. The very first Lotus Formula 1 car will be going up for sale at a Bonhams auction on May 10th.
This Lotus F1 weighs just 700 pounds and makes 141 hp

This one-of-a-kind car is chassis number 353, which was raced by Lotus in both F1 and F2 for eight races between 1957 and 1959. Its official debut was during a non-championship race at Silverstone. Both the car and its driver, Graham Hill, made their F1 entrance that day, beginning an illustrious tandem career, where man and machine would go on to not only win the triple crown of Monaco, Indy 500, and Le Mans, but two F1 championships to boot.

Read more
How much do Formula 1 pit crew and mechanics make?
Pit crews are highly trained athletes who are paid accordingly
Red Bull F1 race car in pit for tire change with pit crew in motion

Considering that a Formula 1 race car costs about $15 million, it's reasonable to assume the people who work with them are paid exceptionally well. Watching a Formula 1 pit crew during a pit stop is a near-magical experience. Viewers aren't privy to everything during a pit stop, but seeing an F1 pit crew change four racing tires in less than 2.5 seconds is astonishing. And that's just the average time (see below for the record pit stop times).

Pit crews get plenty of attention for their synchronized efficiency, which raises the question of how much Formula 1 pit crew and mechanics get paid. Estimates for pit crew and mechanic salaries range from $30,000 for a person who stands by with a fire extinguisher in hand to $1,000,000 for an F1 pit crew chief.
Why Formula 1 pit crew and mechanics salaries matter

Read more
What does interval mean in Formula 1?
Time intervals have three different purposes in Formula 1.
Yuki Tsunoda driving a Formula One racecar for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda.

Formula 1 racing is the top level of motorsports and is gaining fans rapidly in the United States. Since F1 racing began in 1950, it has always been an international competition. Formula 1 is governed by The Fedération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The FIA F1 Regulations specify the technical, sporting, and financial operations of the ten teams in each year's F1 season. Some people find F1 racing hard to understand because certain terms aren't used in typical ways. For example, the word "interval" has three meanings in F1 racing, all related to time between cars, but for different purposes. We break out the three meanings of time intervals below.
Why time intervals are important in F1 racing

The time gaps between cars in Formula 1 races are often measured in fractions of a second as 20 cars speed around tracks, often reaching speeds over 200 mph. Sometimes, the time difference between the first and last cars finishing a race can be just a few seconds, showing how closely they compete. It's not unusual for cars to finish within tenths or hundredths of a second of each other, so timing is crucial in F1 racing.

Read more