Lewis Hamilton’s calls to shed weight and size are answered as FIA release technical regulations for 2026 – including more ‘nimble’ machinery in order to spice up the racing

Lewis Hamilton’s calls for lighter cars have been answered, with Formula One due to introduce more ‘nimble’ machinery from 2026 in an attempt to spice up the racing.

The FIA have prescribed a reduction of 30kg in the technical regulations unveiled on Thursday, as well as introduced a boost function – officially known as the Manual Override Mode that grants greater electrical power to a following car. They say this will deliver ‘increased overtaking opportunities’.

Hamilton has long pressed for cars to shed weight and size to improve handling, and the move in this direction comes in time for what may be his final season in the sport driving at Ferrari.

The change breaks a historical tendency to add more bulk, partly for safety reasons (such as the halo, which weights 7kg). However, the next generation beasts will still weigh 768kg. In contrast, the lightest ever F1 car, the 1958 Lotus 12, weighed 320kg.

Explaining the Override Mode, the FIA said: ‘The deployment of a leading car will taper off after 290kph (180mph), reaching zero at 355kph (220mph) while the following car will benefit from MGUK Override providing 350kW up to 337kph (209mph) and 0.5MJ of extra energy.’

Lewis Hamilton's calls have been answered with lighter cars set to be introduced from 2026
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Lewis Hamilton’s calls have been answered with lighter cars set to be introduced from 2026

The FIA have prescribed a reduction of 30kg in the technical regulations unveiled on Thursday
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The FIA have prescribed a reduction of 30kg in the technical regulations unveiled on Thursday

FIA technical regulations in full

Power Unit

• First published in August 2022, the power unit regulations provide for a major leap forward. Building on the foundations of the world’s most efficient hybrid engine currently used in Formula 1, the 2026 power unit delivers even more power than the current PUs. While the power derived from the ICE element drops from 550-560kw to 400kw, the battery element increases massively, from 120kw to 350kw – an almost 300% increase in electric power. Performance is therefore maintained, while sustainability is increased even further.

• By simplifying the power unit through the removal of the MGU-H and the expansion of electrical power, the 2026 power is the most road relevant yet seen in Formula 1, and in tandem with 100% sustainable fuel provides a forward-thinking platform for transferrable future innovation.

• Additionally, the amount of energy that can be recuperated during braking is doubled, resulting in a total recuperable energy of 8.5 MJ per lap.

• A Manual Override mode has been included to created 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.

• Designed to attract new manufacturers to the sport, the regulations have led to commitments from existing suppliers such as Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, the return of Honda as a manufacturer and the arrival of Audi and Red Bull Ford Powertrains.

Chassis

• Designed to be smaller and lighter than the current generation of cars, the dimensions of the car have been altered and 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.

• Weight reduction has been a key goal and 2026 cars will have a minimum weight of 768kg – down 30kg on their counterparts from 2022. This is made up of 722kg Car and Driver + 46kg estimated tyres mass.

• Downforce has been reduced by 30% and drag by 55%.

• The 18-inch wheel size introduced in 2022 is being retained, though the width of the front tyres has been reduced by 25mm and the rears by 30mm but with minimal loss in grip.

Aerodynamics

• The 2026 cars will also benefit from all-new Active Aerodynamics systems. 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.

• A three-element active rear wing will be adopted, while the lower beam wing has been removed and end plates have been simplified.

• The front wing will be 100mm narrower than currently and will feature a two-element active flap.

• In contrast to the current cars, front wheel arches will be removed, and part of the wheel bodywork will be mandated, to help achieve optimal wake performance.

• In-washing wheel wake control boards will sit on the front of the side pods to assist with the control of the wheel wake.

• The cars will feature a partially flat floor and a lower-powered diffuser, which will reduce the ground effect and reduce the reliance of the cars on ultra-stiff and low set-ups.

Safety

• The FIA’s rigorous pursuit of safety is upheld in the 2026 Formula 1 regulations.

• Revised front impact structure 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.

• Side intrusion protection has been increased. The new specification gives improved intrusion protection around the cockpit and more than doubles the protection given by the side of the fuel cell. Additionally, the improved intrusion protection will be achieved without adding weight.

• Roll hoop loads have been increased from 16G to 20G in line with other single seater formulas and test loads increased from 141kN to 167kN.

• Rear wing endplate lights will be homologated and significantly more visible/bright than current ones. Lateral safety lights will be introduced to identify the ERS status of a car stopped across the track.

• The GPS antenna is being repositioned to improve sensitivity and to allow for future developments in active safety.

Sustainability

• From 2026 Formula 1 power units will run on fully sustainable fuel, underscoring the commitment to environmentally responsible racing and setting a new standard for motorsport.

• This fuel will be ‘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. By 2030 there will be 1.2bn ICE cars on the road worldwide and the fuel developed for Formula 1 could be used to reduce emissions on an industrial scale.

• 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.

• The 2026 regulations are in line with the FIA objective of reaching Net Zero carbon by 2030.

The new engines, which will run on fully sustainable fuel, boast 300 per cent more battery strength, producing an even split between internal combustion and electrical power.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA president, said: ‘The FIA is defining a hugely exciting future for the pinnacle of motorsport.

‘We have taken the opportunity to redefine the chassis regulations to match the energy requirement of the new power units (PUs).

‘Our aim, together with Formula One, was to produce a car that was right for the future of the sport’s elite category. We believe we have achieved that goal.’

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