F1 teams banned from working on 2026 car designs until end of next year

Formula 1

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Formula 1 teams have been banned from starting work on their new cars for the 2026 Formula 1 season for more than a year.

The championship intends to keep its technical regulations largely stable for the next two seasons, then introduce a major overhaul for 2026. These include sweeping changes to the chassis regulations, which are under discussion, and the first change in power unit rules since 2014, details of which have already been agreed.

Teams already face strict limits on the amount of real-world and computer-simulated aerodynamic testing they can conduct. This is tied to how well they perform each season, giving the teams which perform least well in the constructors’ championship the most development time, encouraging them to catch up.

However, in order to limit the scale of advantage any team is able to build up on their 2026 designs, the FIA has imposed new restrictions which will only allow teams to start work on them in the year before they are introduced.

Updated sporting regulations for the 2024 F1 season state: “In order to prevent testing which aims to develop for the 2026 season, from 1/12/2023 until 1/1/2025 inclusive, RWTT [restricted wind tunnel testing] may only be carried out using a scale model that substantially complies with the 2023, 2024 or 2025 F1 technical regulations.

“With the exception of dyno testing aimed to develop brake system components with minimal air ducting and provided such tests do not concurrently test (or in any way provide incidental data or knowledge on) the performance or endurance of parts or systems classified as bodywork, no wind tunnel testing may be carried out using car geometry partially or wholly compliant with and/or substantially derived from drafts and/or published versions of the 2026 F1 Technical Regulations or FIA proposed 2026 bodywork geometries and concepts.”

Similar language has been added to the regulations prohibiting restricted computational fluid dynamics simulations on parts built to comply with the 2026 technical regulations.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “F1 teams banned from working on 2026 car designs until end of next year”

  1. If they really want teams to not do any design or development work on future regulations, simply don’t tell them what they are until they are allowed to start on them.
    Yes, that does mean keeping the teams out of the decision-making process – and for good reason.

    I don’t want to see perfection, or the results of 3+ years of intensive development prior to competition. This is a prototype series where the testing is supposed to happen on the racetrack in competition. It used to be that way.
    Such long lead times are one of the factors behind the extended periods of near-total dominance F1 experiences now, compounded by the fact those technical regs only change significantly every 5 or so years.
    Change it up more often, and with less time for off-track development – F1 would be so much better for it, in almost every way.

    1. Agree completely.

  2. Given the amount of races now (24), teams could just use the first 12 races as test sessions and hope to catch up later.

    1. Didn’t work for McLaren, did it?

  3. No, teams are banned from TESTING their designs for 2026. Except Andretti, because he hasn’t been accepted as a team yet.

    Teams can do all the designing on AutoCAD they want between now and 1/1/2025. They just can’t test it in CFD or the wind tunnel.

    1. How are they going to monitor CFD testing? I mean I bet if one splashes a bit of cash you could create quite a handy CFD system at ‘home’ for some off-time testing (and call it a hobby project).

      1. I would suspect for a relatively inexpensive outlay of cash for a “gaming rig”, you could build a home computer that could at least do rudimentary CFD.

        I’ve been doing generative AI and chatGPT style language modeling on a $1500 PC.

        Hrm. Interesting. F1 doesn’t currently allow GPU acceleration on CFD modeling, as it breaks the “allocated units” calculation. So it’s entirely possible a home-based system running GPU-based acceleration would be MORE powerful than the systems the F1 teams have– or at least equivalent for a fraction of the cost.

        1. That’s fascinating that they don’t allow GPU acceleration. I’d love to see how they enforce this.

          Also it can’t be very green can it? Banks and banks of CPUs chugging away doing maths that a GPU could do without breaking a sweat.

        2. LOL, clearly you aren’t aware of what teams are doing, or using, how it’s all monitored, or much else.
          Enjoy your ChatGPT, your cheap PC & your bubble world your living in.

  4. Too many regulations

    1. this is what happens to governing bodies before they get toppled over. Next they will be talking up about how people shouldn’t heat their homes in the winter and freeze to death.

  5. They can still tank 2025 if they want, I guess this mostly targets teams with junior squads that could sacrifice time to test 2026 concepts even earlier.

  6. Wouldn’t it make much more sense if the teams were actually encouraged to test and make preliminary designs based on the 2026 rules – the teams are probably much better at detecting loopholes or discrepancies in the rules than the FIA – or judge if the rules are even gonna work at all..

  7. Silent but Deadly
    7th December 2023, 15:12

    In unrelated news, RB announce the construction of a huge new £250m “hair dryer” facility, capable of 250mph wind and 3m diameter. It will be paid for out of the catering + cosmetics budget. It will have a staff of 50 (including Adrian Newey).

  8. Coventry Climax
    7th December 2023, 17:41

    Sounds like Hamilton’s complaining being rewarded again.

    1. Sounds like Hamilton’s complaining being rewarded again.

      That makes no sense. Mercedes is among those that need extra effort to catch up, and this blocks that.

      1. Coventry Climax
        8th December 2023, 11:33

        It was Hamilton who complained that Red Bull was so far ahead that they could already shift all of their attention to next seasons’ car, and that that should be limited, ignoring they could well do the exact same thing. But he should know of that ‘advantage’ ofcourse, as they’ve been doing exactly that at Mercedes for seven years.
        It took a change in design philosophy to upset the order. And that wouldn’t even have happened if Mercedes had sufficiently recognised the importance of a couple of things other than their engine, had just done their homework better.
        All teams had the exact same amount of time -and money- to design and develop to the new philosophy. Due to the nature of things, only one of them turned out to have done the best job. Too bad for them, it wasn’t Mercedes. But to then go point at others for your oversights, decisions or mistakes? Come on, that’s befitting for twelve year olds only.

        Now again, with the new rules coming, all teams have the same amount of resources available to prepare.
        Whether the most clever minds now have to do it all in just one year or in a couple of years doesn’t make much difference at all: one of them will turn out to have done the best job, compared to all others.
        So to me, competition wise, this is a completely pointless decision, as was Hamiltons complaining about it. There will be more room for hindsights and develoments later on, but that’s the same for everyone too – although likely a shut door, given the FiA’s policy of in season development. Who shoots who in the foot there?

        It’s OK if you say it makes no sense – I actually agree!- , but take that to Hamilton please, and to the people at the FiA that rewarded his complaints, instead of to me.

        1. You know it’s been thoroughly debunked that Mercedes had any sort of advantage of knowing the rules ahead of everyone else, right?

          1. Coventry Climax
            8th December 2023, 21:46

            Where on earth did I say anything on Mercedes having an advantage because of knowing rules in advance?
            It’s like you’re comment is on something completely different. You sure you really read everything?

  9. why doesn’t the FIA just ban existing. Lolz. What a joke.

  10. Weird restrictions

    1. Not really. The r&d restrictions and the cost cap are intended to enable a level playing field. The big 3, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, have enough money in reserve that they could create an entirely separate engineering team to spend all their effort on 2026, without violating the cost cap rules for 2024.

      Amusingly, there *is* one team currently doing wind tunnel testing on a 2026 design– and that’s Andretti, because they’re not an F1 team, they’re not subject to the restrictions.

  11. Ah they already worked on designs for the 2026 car or they take it to home or called it for the 2027 design.
    that is a stupid rule to add.
    So what are they doing with the exsisting data ……

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