2026 Formula 1 car renderings revealed as FIA details major regulation changes

The FIA just unveiled regulations for the 2026 Formula 1 season and showed off renderings of what the car design will look like, which you can see in the gallery at the top of this post.

In a reversal of past regulation changes, the cars are getting smaller and lighter in 2026. Wheelbase is reduced by 200 mm down to 3,400 mm; width is down by 100 mm to 1,900 mm and weight is down by 66 lbs to 1,693 lbs. The Pirelli tires will also be smaller, as the width of the fronts goes down by 25 mm and the rears by 30 mm. However, the 18-inch wheels introduced in 2022 will remain.

Big aero changes are also afoot, as teams will now be allowed to design active aerodynamics for both the front and rear wings. The front will have a two-element flap, while the rear will have three elements. Unlike DRS, though, the active aero will be deployable no matter your gap to a car in front. It will be manually activated by the driver, but drivers will only be able to do so in areas on the track deemed safe, which is currently pegged to be any straight that lasts for longer than three seconds. When in low-drag configuration, the FIA is calling that “X-mode,” whereas high-downforce mode is being referred to as “Z-mode.” Floor and diffuser changes should dissuade the teams from designing the ground effect cars (that we see today) with ultra-stiff and ultra-low suspension setups that cause the porpoising. Overall, the FIA expects 2026 cars to have 55% less drag and 30% less downforce than the current cars. It also expects these aero changes to allow for closer racing, but we’ll need to wait and see on that front.

Of course, the powertrains are going to be different, too. The 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 – now revised and running on 100% sustainable fuel – will do less work, as output will drop from about 738 horsepower to approximately 536 horsepower. This deficit will be made up with electric power, as F1 aims for a near 50-50 split between combustion and electric power. Instead of the around 160 horsepower the electric component currently contributes, the 2026 cars will see about 470 horsepower from the battery-electric element. Formula 1 is expecting 2026 cars to have around 120 horsepower more than today’s cars, so don’t worry, they’ll be fast. 

And with the added reliance on electric power, energy harvesting capabilities from braking are going up, as the FIA predicts teams will harvest about 8.5 megajoules per lap. How the drivers deploy that extra electric power is getting more interesting/complicated for 2026, too. Similar to DRS, drivers within 1 second of the car behind them will be able to use an “MGU-K Override” switch that provides a boost of power at high speeds in a bid to help overtaking. Under normal circumstances, electric power deployment will taper off above 180 mph, but the MGU-K Override will allow a driver to access all 470 horses of electric power up to 209 mph, theoretically helping them slingshot around the car in front. This system is expected to be accessible in the same zones as DRS functions in today.

The last big update has to do with safety, as the FIA says 2026 cars will feature a new two-stage nose design to reduce the chances of detachment in an accident. Side intrusion protection is enhanced, and the protection around the fuel cell is better, too. Safety lights will be fitted to cars (and will illuminate when stopped on track) that will show the status of a car’s energy recovery system for the safety of drivers and marshals. Roll hoop loads are increased, as well. It’s all been done without adding any extra weight, the FIA says.

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