F1 2026 is increasingly taking shape. After much discussion about the engines, the shapes of the car itself finally begin to arrive in their final form. This was a demand that came not only from the teams, who are working on this discussion and want to look into the concept as soon as possible, but also from Pirelli.
Anyone who follows Parabólica knows that the objective of this new project is to reduce the weight and size of the cars. This was a situation posed by Adrian Newey some time ago in an interview, in which he saw that F1’s search should be for smaller and more efficient cars. In a way, it is also to meet the wishes of the public, who mostly complain about the current size of cars.
In recent times, the project named “Fangio” by the FIA has consolidated all the negotiations made between the entity, F1 and the teams. At Interlagos, F1 technical consultant, Pat Symonds, declared that “good news is coming” in terms of making the cars shorter and – above all – easier to drive close together. According to him, the teams have already managed to find ways to hinder the air flow to the car behind. It is not yet like the old regulations, but it has already reached a point well above what was expected by the FIA and F1, and today it is around 35% (it was 10 to 15% last year).
In an article by German journalist Michael Schimdt, from Auto Motor und Sport, the first sketches of what would become this F1 2026 begin to appear, according to the latest version presented by the FIA at the Mexican GP. The loss of measurements was confirmed: at least 20 cm less in the wheelbase, going from 3.60m to 3.40m and 10 cm in width (from the current 2 meters to 1.90m). Furthermore, weight would also be reduced through smaller tires (not to mention reducing the frontal area, helping aerodynamics)
After the move requested by Pirelli to go from a 13” to 18” rim, F1 would move to a 16” tire. This would lead to a smaller carcass and wheels (the current ones weigh around 8.5kg). This alone is estimated to result in weight loss reaching more than 5kg.
With a lighter tire, there is even talk of a greater simplification of the suspension. One of the teams’ previous requests was for the return of the third shock absorber (common until 2021), which was once again refused in principle. Combine this with a reduction in the number of gears… we reach the 20/25 kg that has been talked about for months (some estimate up to 30 kg less).
In addition to size and weight, aerodynamics also play a special role. According to the project presented by AMuS, the design would be similar to the current one. But the front spoiler would have larger side fins to cover more front wheels and reduce turbulence. A solution similar to Indy and Formula-E.
One of the efforts is also to make areas of contact with the air simpler. This is where the halo, the fins over the wheels and the cockpit design come into play.
DRS is still at the rear. And you can act ahead
The DRS is kept at the rear and the idea is to introduce the principle into the front wing. The rear spoiler would have 4 elements instead of the current 2: 1 main and 3 smaller ones (with the DRS open, it would look like a shutter). Some fins can still be repositioned.
The current concept of the cars would change a lot: FIA technicians are working on a change in the air flow to further increase overtaking and regain some of the vacuum, which was hampered by the current regulations: the idea is to direct the air more towards inside the cars (“inwash”) than outside (“outwash”) and downward (“downwash”).
This leads to modifications in the Venturi tunnels (which generate the ground effect), which must be louder and with different entrances. Furthermore, the rear diffuser would also have more limitations in its position and measurement (it must be at least 5 cm lower than the current one) and the floor would have more restrictions for the placement of slots, especially in front of the rear wheels. Here, the slits would be replaced by more fins. All by reducing turbulence, especially outside the car (the so-called “outwash”).
According to FIA technicians, this configuration would return to the process started with the current concept of reducing the turbulence of the cars, bringing them closer together, in addition to allowing a more effective return of the vacuum. One of the side effects of the current rules was that turbulence reduced, but the slipstream lost part of its efficiency, becoming increasingly dependent on DRS for overtaking.
According to the article, initial estimates that this car would be 3 to 4 seconds slower than current cars are already behind us. Today, according to FIA and F1 technicians, the expectation is that this increase will be in the region of 1 to 1.5 seconds.
In principle, the main ideas are closed and the details now remain to be finalized. These are interesting measures that try to bring more action to the races and the cars more pleasant to look at. The forecast is that this new package will be approved by all parties by the first half of 2024. At this point, we will also have a better vision of what the 2026 engines will be, as well as all the development that will be done, the which involves a possible limitation on the work of 2025 cars. But that’s a conversation for another article…
The original link to the article in German is here