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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.

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.

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.

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.
Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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