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DRS out, “Manual Override Mode” in: F1’s new overtaking aid explained

Formula 1

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Formula 1 will drop its divisive Drag Reduction System at the end of next season when it introduces new technical regulations.

But the series will introduce a new Manual Overtake Mode to recreate the effect of DRS by giving drivers a power boost when they get close to a car ahead.

The FIA confirmed details of F1’s new technical regulations for 2026 today. As when the current rules were introduced in 2022, they include several changes intended to make it easier for cars to run closely together.

“Overtaking remains a very important parameter for F1,” said the FIA’s single seater technical director Jan Monchaux. “It’s going to be tackled in two ways.

2026 F1 car rendering - front
Analysis: Z-mode and X-mode – How Formula 1’s new active aero will work in 2026
“The first one is to continue to have an aero concept for the car that reduces the losses generated by the car in front and which are negatively impacting the following car.

“To be able to overtake you need to be close to the car ahead of you, and if you can’t follow in a corner because it is generating so much dirty air that your car gets unstable and you need to drop away, then the moment you are on the straight line, you need to recover all that loss. So it’s very important for us that you can reasonably follow another car in a cornering situation.

“To do that we need to make sure from the aero concept that the amount of dirty air being generated is not impacting too much the following car. That’s number one.”

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However the changes F1 is also making to its power units had led it to allow drivers to use adjustable aerodynamics regardless of how close they are to another car. DRS has therefore effectively been abolished.

But the FIA believes a similar system to DRS will still be needed. It will therefore introduce a new system is calls Manual Override Mode, allowing drivers to use more electrical energy when they close on a rival.

“So [when] you enter the straight and the car is fairly close to the other to help the overtaking – since both cars will have rear wing open and front wing flap open – we are going to allow the car behind to deploy more electrical energy for a given portion of time during that lap,” Monchaux explained.

“Right now with the DRS you are behind a car, within a second, that ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS in a straight line. This will not be the case anymore. However, the logic will be the same: I’m close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for that one lap, which I can deploy any way I want.

“The extra amount of energy is defined and that will give that boost of energy to eventually give the following car a chance to overtake by the end of the straight.”

The override will work by allowing the chasing car to continue using the maximum available power from their MGU-K – the electrical part of the power unit – while the car ahead cannot. As the car ahead accelerates from 290kph to 355kph, the amount of electrical power it may use falls from 350kW (approximately 496bhp) to zero.

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However a driver using Manual Override Mode (MOM) may continue drawing 350kW up to a speed of 337kph. They can also recuperate up to 0.5MJ more energy per lap on top of the usual 8.5MJ.

MOM “works in a similar way to DRS,” Monchaux confirmed. “If you are within a given distance, before the end of a lap to the car in front of you, then for the following lap, you will be given the possibility to use more electrical energy than your opponent.

“That boost of electrical energy is there to replace what used to be the rear wing opening, to give a car that extra push to potentially go and try to overtake.”

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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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37 comments on “DRS out, “Manual Override Mode” in: F1’s new overtaking aid explained”

  1. Giving more power rather than opening the rear wing is a better idea & should be easier to tune so that it’s purely an assist rather than a passing device, However I still hate the fact that’s they have basically stuck with the DRS idea in terms of it been something only available to a car behind when they are close to a car ahead.

    I still maintain what i’ve been saying since the DRS idea was first brought up in 2010. That been that they should adopt a P2P system that gives everyone the same amount of uses or seconds available over a race distance with the drivers been able to use it anywhere around the lap to both attack or defend.

    I prefer that not only because I think it’s less artificial but also because I think it works better to create good racing rather than just more passing. I also like how it been more in the hands of drivers in terms of when, where & how they use it brings in an extra element of drivers having to think strategically & plan out an overtake.

    It’s just a better system with no downsides that I have ever seen & I just don’t get why F1 have to come up with systems that feel more artificial or complex.

    1. A P2P system would definitely be better than the current DRS arrangements and whatever the nightmare described above is, but ultimately it still acts to encourage overtaking in just one or two parts of the track (the end of a long straight) and reduce it everywhere else. It reduces the scope for drivers to be creative in where they try their moves, since they have access to a series-sanctioned Easy Mode in predetermined spots.

    2. @stefmeister Anywhere around a lap was already a thing in practice, qualifying, & test sessions in the first two years, but got dropped for a reason, so returning to effectively free usage would be unworthy.

      1. The ‘reason’ was that some teams couldn’t handle it and wanted to take away that variable.

        DRS everywhere is fine, it’s a risk/reward decision and that makes it interesting.

  2. I want to overtake, better ask MOM first

    1. Ahah, was thinking the same, the abreviation isn’t inspiring!

  3. “Overtaking is a very important parameter in F1.”
    Is defensive driving not?

    Super unimpressed.

    Any defensive move today is highly scrutinized and often attracts penalties. Practically the defensive aspect of racing is being progressively discouraged in modern F1 – on one side with manual override and on the other side with penalties.

    1. For a defensive driving you need overtaking. If there is no overtaking also there is no defensive, just a train of cars like what we saw in Monaco. Nobody was really defending, so I don’t know what are you talking about.

      1. I understand him as DRS was a easy overtake which you couldn’t defend against (past) current yo could as DRS make it possible but not garanty.

        If the button to power is too much you never can defend against so i hope they give drivers a 2-3 minutes which they can use and if spend you have to do without.

    2. That is because of the targeted audience by Liberty.. the casual little knowledge about racing, but large group. They want to see a car passing another. No need for any additional background info or how this came about, as long as car x overtakes car y. That sells. Defending limits the nr of overtakes and therefore needs to be discouraged. Racing is not of interest to Liberty, just revenue maximisation. And that is done through attracting a larger audience.

      1. Yet 2 or even 3 cars battling lap after lap nut not being able to overtake just yet is way more interesting to see. Even if de overtake never happens in the end. Its about the fight not the pass. Drs and mom killed those fights

        1. They sure did. Watching the F1 archive the whole (build up of the) suspense was completely different and way more cat and mouse. drs has robbed us of more than most think. Mom follows the trend still in the wrong direction.

  4. They’re keeping detection-point chicken and MOM trains? What happens when a car’s both behind and in front of other cars?

    1. @bullfrog This is a good point that I hope they will consider important enough to address. This is also why I agree with @stefmeister ‘s suggestion above of giving each driver an allocation of any ‘push to pass’ style usage and letting them use it whenever they want over the course of a grand prix. It would at least go some way to prevent this issue of trains which actually lead to a reduction in the overtakes and action that they are designed to encourage.

    2. someone or something
      6th June 2024, 21:39

      What happens when a car’s both behind and in front of other cars?

      The same as now, what matters is whether you have a car ahead of you in the predetermined window. If you do, you get to use MOM. Doesn’t matter if there’s another car behind you, just as it doesn’t matter with DRS.
      In other words, we’re going to get MOM trains now.

  5. As the car ahead accelerates from 290kph to 255kph, the amount of electrical power it may use falls from 350kW (approximately 496bhp) to zero.

    Ignoring the typo for a minute… (I assume it’s meant to be 355kph)

    Isn’t the drag going to cause the lead car to start slowing down when you remove 500bhp?? Or will the electrical power reduction balance out because at some point, as you reduce the electrical power, the car will stop accelerating and then the power will stop reducing further?

    Either way it’s a boost to the following car, as well as an effective speed limiter on the car in front.

    I hope they’ve got their sums right otherwise this has the potential to be an absolute farce.

    1. @gdog The lead car shouldn’t start decelerating because it still has 350kW available when it reaches 290km/hr. At some point it will reach a speed where the power available matches the drag pulling the car back, resulting in a constant speed until something changes. This is the same as a car reaching its natural top speed, but will occur sooner as the power starts to reduce as it approaches top speed. The car should only decelerate on a straight if it runs out of electrical power and no longer has enough energy to sustain its current speed (outside of other factors like going uphill, leaving the slipstream of another car, wind speed changes etc).

      1. Where’s the power for this overtake mode come from?

        It already seems like the cars are going to be short on energy– no more MGU-H, and the MGU-K can only generate power under braking– so even with a larger (and heavier) energy store, where’s the energy come from to charge it at tracks like Monza?

        I know the engineers have to have done energy simulations, but this sounds like a recipe for really slow racing.

    2. the car will stop accelerating and then the power will stop reducing further?

      The output is still capped at all times, as it was before in the 2026 regulations, but they changed the rules around a bit to accommodate this new ‘override mode’.

      Essentially, the power is linearly capped. Either at 1800 kW – 5 * speed in km/h below 340 km/h, and since the maximum is never more than 350 kW, this means the speed is irrelevant up to 290 km/h, after which it will reduce to 100 kW at 340 km/h linearly. Above that speed, the cap is 6900 kW – 20 * speed in km/h. But this is essentially meaningless since the new rules insert another clause that means the output is completely turned off above 345 km/h.

      That opens up space for the ‘override mode’, which will still turn off the electric motor completely above 355 km/h, but has a new linear cap of 7100 kW – 20* speed in km/h all the way up to 355 km/h. So at that 340 km/h when the normal situation caps out at 100 kW, the ‘override mode’ will still allow 300 kW. That’s a big difference, but it’s also a big drain on the ES (which was the entire reason the output was designed to capped relative to speed to begin with).

  6. Who still thinks this is motor racing? Whenever they actually race they get a penalty!
    Maybe they could make it that the car in front pulls over and lets the follower pass if it’s faster three laps in a row? Or just make the whole weekend a fastest lap speed test and forget the race altogether?
    But seriously, with F1 only about money, the “show” and “technology,” and not competition, how long before it is driverless? Or is it already? And when will they put the mechanic back in the car? There’s certainly enough room to do it!

  7. Mark Davies
    6th June 2024, 17:27

    This sounds like a really really really poor solution to a problem designed into F1 cars by regulators.

  8. DRS gone: “YEEEEAAAH! YES! YESSSS!” *Takes the Champagne out of the fridge. Almost crying of joy.
    Manual Overtake Mode: “… God damn it!” *Puts Champagne back in the fridge.

    1. Ahah, that’s a good one, but who knows, maybe it won’t be as bad for racing as drs is.

  9. Post-race interview quote from 2026: MOM really helped me with some critical over-takes today.

    Policing MOM will be harder for the FIA. IndyCar have shown an electronic aid can cheated and it’s not like F1 teams have never cheated before.

    1. Would this not be handled by the spec ECU? McLaren has a great track record there; that thing is the epitome of a proper spec part: it always works and never ‘matters’ to the competition. I doubt we’ll see Penske-shenanigans there.

  10. An Sionnach
    6th June 2024, 17:41

    If the cars are even then the bonus the car behind needs to make overtaking a possibility depends on the track. This would be a fine balance that might be hard to get right, particularly from a defending perspective, even if it was taken case by case. As it is, the only improvement I can see here is that the charge will eventually run out, so you may not be able to use it at every detection point, every lap.

    I like that active aero is now allowed. That’s a practical step in going faster using less power. How’s about they just leave the engineers and drivers to it? In an on-track duel, the risk and reward you can get using active aero will cause mistakes. The temptation will always be there to use it a little longer than the other guy. Allow every conceivable active aero trick, or anything else that can improve fuel economy.

  11. Maybe I’m misinterpreting but since you can harvest more per lap, you’ll stay behind for a lap or 2 and then blast past on the straight with the extra energy? So that’s right about just as bad as the signature “DRS-highway-pass” then?

    1. The current maximum charge of the battery is 4 MJ (or rather, but effectively similar, the maximum range). This won’t change. But now it can be charged by 2 MJ per lap from the MGU-K, and unlimited from the MGU-H. In the 2026 rules, the MGU-K can charge 9 MJ per lap (or rather, ‘up to’ since they want to have the option to cap this too). So it’s unlikely there’ll be any ‘harvesting’ or ‘charging’ laps as we see them today.

      But since 4 MJ = 1.11 kWh, the 350 kW motor will drain it completely in about 11 seconds. Given that the output is capped above certain speeds, and less so in this ‘override mode’, it’ll be a bit longer in said mode, but not by a whole lot.

      I wonder if we’ll see limited ‘MOM Zones’ to make sure the cars don’t deplete themselves in one long run. After all, why give teams options if the FIA can add ten more pages of regulations!?

  12. how about finding tracks where you can actually pass? penalty free at that.

    I like the idea of an allocation of power over the course of the race, throws another wrench in the strategy

  13. Damn… They replace DRS with a bigger gimmick? What next? Sprinklers or holes with sharks?

    1. Pssst… I’ve heard Liberty have been researching giant foam Whack-A-Mole style hammers to help improve the show. Word has it that the slot machine to operate them will cost at levels that befit F1. Putting a wee punt on Stroll (either) to win the 2026 WDC

  14. F1 needs to focus on making braking less efficient to extend braking zones. Tat is the only “natural way to improve overtaking.

    1. I’m partial to this view. From a basic physics view at terminal velocity reducing drag has a bigger impact in increasing speed than increasing power. The amount power needed to go faster with these high drag cars is enormous. The effect of reducing drag is also instantaneous.

  15. These new cars might be gimmicky and overly complicated, but at least they’re also slower than current F2 spec.

  16. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    6th June 2024, 20:18

    Hmmmm, a slight improvement on DRS but still maintains the concept of penalising a driver to help another pass – still artificial. Lighter, shorter, no dirty air would do it

  17. so F1 will have push to pass but with a terrible name “mom” … smh

  18. Radio after failed overtake: “Aww, M-o-o-o-o-o-m”
    Post race interview: “I blame my Mom”

    The obvious question is, should this be labelled as a Driver Assist Device?

Comments are closed.