Feature: F1 cars undergo a DRAMATIC transformation as FIA confirms regulations

The FIA ​​has revealed a number of changes to the Formula 1 technical regulations ahead of the 2026 season.

It will be a more “agile” F1 car that will be “lighter and smaller” to make overtaking easier.

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Furthermore, F1 has reinforced its commitment to sustainability with an all-new powertrain unit evenly split between internal combustion and electric power.

In 2026, active aerodynamics and an energy injection that can be used as an overtaking device will also be introduced.

GPF fans We’ve unpacked the new regulations to understand how these new rules will translate to the racetrack.

The FIA ​​has revealed the F1 regulations for 2026

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

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

At the heart of the new regulations is the concept of ‘agility’, with the size and weight of F1 cars reduced by 30kg and width reduced from 200cm to 190cm.

Downforce has also been reduced by 30% and air resistance by 55% to improve performance and handling.

“Lighter, stronger and more focused on driver skill, the 2026 FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations have been developed to provide closer competition for drivers, increase competition between teams and enhance the spectacle,” explained FIA Director of Single-Seaters Nikolas Tombazis.

Nikolas Tombazis hopes that the new regulations will encourage overtaking

Will DRS be replaced?

From 2026, the DRS system will not be used to improve overtaking, instead push-to-pass assistance will be introduced.

The manual control function will provide drivers with additional battery power on demand when they are close to the car in front.

FIA single-seater technical director Jan Monchaux explained how the new overtaking mode will work on the race track.

“So (when) you come onto the straight and the car is quite close to the other to make it easier to overtake – because both cars will have the rear wing and front flap open – we will allow the car behind to generate more electricity for a certain amount of time that lap,” Monchaux said .

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Jan Monchaux explains the brand new manual control

“Right now, with DRS, you’re within a second of the car that’s ticking the box and you can run DRS in a straight line.

“It will not happen again. However, the logic will be the same: I am close enough to another car, I get an extra amount of energy for that one lap, which I can use in any way I want.

“An additional amount of energy has been defined that will give it an injection to finally give the car in front a chance to overtake at the end of the straight.”

How does active aero work?

Active aero will be introduced in 2026

Active aero allows riders to switch between standard high downforce (Z-mode) or activating a low-drag mode (X-mode).

The system includes movable front and rear wings, with both modes designed to increase speed on a specific section of the track.

The low drag configuration in X mode will maximize straight-line speed, while in Z mode it will provide faster cornering speeds.

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

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

“Typically, DRS assists overtaking and is activated when you are within one second of the leading car at certain times.

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F1 currently uses DRS to assist overtaking

“With the 2026 car, we will give drivers the ability to switch between high downforce and low drag modes, regardless of any interruptions.

“So at certain points in the lap the driver will be able to switch to low drag mode to ensure straight-line performance where there is no limited grip.

“Then as you get closer to the braking zone, you go back to high downforce mode.”

To introduce more agile cars, the front wing will be 100 mm narrower and will be equipped with a two-piece active flap.

Is the new F1 powertrain sustainable?

Efficiency and sustainability are at the heart of the powertrain changes for 2026, with an equal split between combustion energy and electricity and an almost 300% increase in electric power.

F1 is also looking to the future with the power block for 2026, by removing the MGU-H and expanding electric power.

According to the FIA: “The power for 2026 is the most relevant on the road ever seen in Formula 1 and, combined with 100% sustainable fuel, provides a future-proof platform for transferable future innovations.”

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

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