2026 F1 car rendering - side

“Very different” 2026 cars quicker on straights but slower in corners – Russell

Formula 1

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George Russell expects the new rules F1 will introduce in 2026 to significantly change the performance of the cars.

The FIA has confirmed the first details of changes to the chassis after next season. The rules have been designed to suit the new power units which will be introduced in 2026.

Although total power levels should remain similar in 2026, the new motors will deploy more of their power from the batteries. The internal combustion engine, to run on synthetic fuel from 2026, will therefore contribute less of the total power.

Russell admitted this has forced some compromises on plans for F1’s new chassis rules. “There’s a lot of exciting things about 2026, I think mainly for the power unit, I think that’s an exciting change for the sport and it’s a really good direction that we’re going in with the sustainable fuels,” he told Sky. “We’re going more [towards] electrification and there has to be some compromises along the way.”

To better suit the characteristics of the new power units, the 2026 cars will use active aerodynamics to reduce drag and increase speed on the straights. Their peak downforce they generate should fall, slowing them through the corners.

2026 F1 car rendering
Report: FIA reveals new 2026 F1 rules to create slimmer, lighter cars
“I think the cars we’ll be seeing in ’26 will be very different to what we have today,” said Russell. “So we’re going to be much faster in the straights. They will be slower in the corners and they may be slower around a lap.”

Russell isn’t concerned that slower lap times and lower cornering speeds may make the cars less spectacular to watch.

“We’re 20 drivers who probably are the only ones who feel that. When you watch on television, maybe you can’t tell if you go through a corner at 250 or 200[kph].

“I don’t know, to be honest, because when I watch Moto GP, that still looks really quick and they go through a corner 100km an hour slower than what a Formula 1 car does. So there’s always a compromise. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.”

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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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11 comments on ““Very different” 2026 cars quicker on straights but slower in corners – Russell”

  1. That’s great news, aero performance in corners is a huge and often ignored detractor to the quality of racing. Carrying high speed through corners as the cars do massively reduces the amount of overtaking opportunities.

    It’s also a very particular style of driving required to make the most of it.

    Still, let’s see if it realistically comes to pass. I feel like these kind of quotes fly around prior to any new regulations as the teams do their guesswork in the simulators.

  2. Faster performance on straights, slower cornering, narrower tyres…
    So… increased braking distances?

    Oh, maybe if the projected drop in downforce is right, it will mean enough of a reduction in spray that we can have more running in wet conditions.

    1. If Danny Ric can hold out til then, his results may suddenly see a late career renaissance

  3. Movable aero- bad idea. If something breaks, high energy crash. And no down force for maneuvering on straights. Bet the cars are like driving on ice on the straights. Seems like a really bad idea.

    1. This may make even the dry races like driving in the wet.

      1. notagrumpyfan
        7th June 2024, 8:10

        Can we expect FIA to now red flag dry races as well?

    2. I’d not worry about the low downforce trim for the straights. We used to have DRS everywhere in qualifying and they managed just fine.

  4. Lower cornering speeds are an inevitable side-effect of reduced aero & narrower tyres, although I certainly can tell a 50 km/h difference.

    1. Well, thank you Captain Obvious. Anyway, that’s what F1 needs – it desperately needs to lengthen breaking distances.

      1. I don’t have an issue with shorter braking distances.

        1. Braking areas are the primary area for overtakes. If we had non-carbon brakes and even just 50% longer braking distances, we’d see radically more overtaking (they’re so short, “just 50%” isn’t an oxymoron).

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