6 biggest elements in the 2026 F1 regulations

Formula 1 is on the cusp of a new era.

On Thursday the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), F1’s governing body, unveiled the regulations that will be implemented in the sport starting with the 2026 season. These regulations have been in the works for some time, and have undergone various revisions over the past few years, as the first working regulations were published in the summer of 2022.

You can see a rendering of the new F1 car here from the FIA:

Here are the biggest elements in the new regulations.

Elimination of the MGU-H

Current F1 cars utilize a hybrid power unit, with both an internal combustion engine (ICE) and a battery element. Currently, that battery element has two components that help harvest electrical energy: The MGU-H and the MGU-K. The MGU-K (with the K standing for “kinetic”) is attached to the crankshaft and helps harvest and store energy in the battery. The MGU-H (with the H standing for “heat”) helps capture thermal heat and harvest that as electrical energy.

In the new era of F1, the power units will have a 50/50 split between the ICE and the battery element. To get to this ratio, the power derived from the ICE element “drops from 550-560kw to 400kw,” according to the new FIA regulations. To make up the difference, according to the FIA, the battery element increases “massively, from 120kw to 350kw – an almost 300% increase in electric power.”

This not only increases performance, but works towards the sport’s ongoing sustainability goals.

However, the MGU-H element is removed, in part to make the new F1 power units more “road relevant.” To make up the gap in performance the MGU-K elements will see an increase in the energy that can be harvested during breaking, allowing for the above increase in electric power despite the removal of the MGU-H. According to the FIA, “the amount of energy that can be recuperated during braking is doubled, resulting in a total recuperable energy of 8.5 MJ per lap.”

Elimination of DRS and “manual override mode”

Current F1 cars have what is called the “drag reduction system,” or DRS for short. Implemented to increase overtaking opportunities on the track, DRS allows drivers to open a flap on their rear wing to reduce drag, and increase speed.

The use of DRS varies from circuit to circuit, as each race track has mandated “DRS zones” — usually long straights — as the only spots on the track where DRS can be utilized. In addition, DRS can only be used when a driver is within one second of the car in front of them.

DRS has been meet with mixed reviews by drivers, fans, and teams alike. For those on the negative side of the ledger, the new regulations will provide welcome relief.

Starting in 2026, DRS is no longer a feature. The rear wings will still have moveable parts — more on that in a second — but instead the 2026 F1 cars will have a “manual override mode.” Under this concept, drivers that are close enough to the car in front of them can utilize extra energy from the battery element, providing them a short-term boost on the track.

This should lead to increased overtaking opportunities. According to the FIA, “[a] Manual Override mode has been included to create improved overtaking opportunities. While the deployment of a leading car will taper off after 290kph, reaching zero at 355kph, the following car will benefit from MGUK Override providing 350kW up to 337kph and +0.5MJ of extra energy.”

According to FIA Single Seater Technical Director Nikolas Tombazis, the system “will provide drivers with an on-demand burst of battery power when close enough to the car ahead of them.”

This is similar to the “push to pass” system utilized in IndyCar.

Active aerodynamics

As noted above, current F1 cars have an adjustable rear wing.

The next generation F1 cars will not only have an adjustable rear wing — but not DRS as outlined — but they will also have an adjustable front wing.

According to the FIA, the next generation cars will have two aerodynamics modes: Z-Mode and X-Mode. “The system, involving movable front and rear wings, will result in greater cornering speeds with standard Z-Mode deployed. On straights drivers will be able to switch to X-Mode a low-drag configuration designed to maximise straight-line speed.”

In Z-Mode the aerodynamic elements will work to create more downforce, allowing for better cornering. But in X-Mode, downforce and drag will be reduced, allowing for higher speeds on the straights.

As outlined in the new regulations, the rear wings will have three movable elements, while the front wings will have a two-element active flap.

The “nimble car concept”

The size of F1 cars has been a huge talking point in recent days, as the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix did not see a lot of overtaking. F1 cars have gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and many drivers and team bosses outlined how the size of the cars made overtaking almost impossible on the tight and narrow Monte Carlo streets.

If you were hoping that the incoming regulations would see a return to the smaller cars of yesteryear you are out of luck. But the 2026 F1 cars are going to be a bit smaller than the current version.

“Designed to be smaller and lighter than the current generation of cars, the dimensions of the car have been altered to adhere to the ‘nimble car’ concept at the heart of the new rules. The wheelbase drops from a maximum of 3600mm to 3400mm, while the width has been reduced from 2000mm to 1900mm. The maximum floor width will be reduced by 150mm,” according to the FIA.

The cars will also be lighter. As outlined by the FIA the “2026 cars will have a minimum weight of 768kg – down 30kg on their counterparts from 2022.”


Safety remains an important goal for the FIA, and the next generation of F1 cars contain some improvements in this area.

Regarding front and side impacts, the 2026 F1 cars will see improvements with some new features. With respect to front impacts, the next generation of F1 cars will contain a two-stage structure, hoping to avoid situations where a front impact saw the front impact structure (FIS) break off close to the “survival cell,” putting the driver at risk. “Revised front impact regulations introduce a two-stage structure to avoid incidents in recent years where the front impact structure (FIS) has broken-off close to the survival cell after an initial impact, leaving the car unprotected for a subsequent impact.”

When it comes to side impacts, the new regulations improve the structure around the driver and “more than doubles” the protection around the fuel cell.


Finally, the next generation F1 cars will see the sport take another critical step towards their “NetZero 2030” goals. The sport is looking to be carbon zero by that date, and the new regulations will see some changes that move F1 closer to that goal.

First, starting in 2026 all cars will use fully sustainable fuel. Beyond that, however, the fuel is described as “drop in,” meaning it can be used in almost any ICE-powered vehicle, offering a potentially game-changing solution to greenhouse gasses in the transportation sector.”

The FIA went on to note how this could impact not just the sport, but passenger cars on the road. “By 2030 there will be 1.2 [billion] ICE cars on the road worldwide and the fuel developed for Formula 1 could be used to reduce emissions on an industrial scale.”

In addition, the 50/50 split between the ICE and the battery element — a shift towards the battery element providing even more power for the car — is another move towards sustainability. “Sustainability will be enhanced through greater use of electric power in the 2026 power units and a shift to towards a 50% electrical and 50% thermal power distribution.”

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