2026 F1 car rendering - rear side

F1 will hardly be quicker than F2 under new 2026 rules, teams warn

Formula 1

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Formula 1 cars will be only slightly quicker than Formula 2 machines under the new rules proposed for the 2026, some teams have warned.

The FIA presented its plans for F1’s next major overhaul of its technical rules yesterday. Under its proposal the 2026 cars will be smaller than current designs and produce significantly less downforce.

F1 cars were 11 seconds quicker than F2 machines at Monaco and 12 seconds faster at Imola. But Williams team principal James Vowles warned that gap could be slashed if the new rules are introduced in their current form.

“It’s imperative that we are still the leading series in motorsport,” he said. “That’s how I see us. We’re the pinnacle of this.

“Therefore, as a result of that, we need to make sure that we’re maintaining the performance and speed we have.”

He believes the new rules will create a “mismatch” between the performance of F1 and other series. “The performance difference to an F2 car could be as small as a few seconds,” he said. “And that’s starting to get a little bit tight, especially when you compare it to the other series around the world.”

Vowles stressed the rules the FIA presented yesterday are still being worked on. “These are draft regulations. Just this week, in fact, there were two changes which took quite a bit of downforce away.

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“I’m confident we’ll get to a better solution in that regard. It’s not that we’re so far away. Just a little bit more work required, though.”

The FIA also intends to introduce adjustable aerodynamics in 2026 which will allow drivers to reduce their drag on the straights and increase their downforce in the corners. Yesterday George Russell said this will lead to very high straight-line speeds and much lower cornering speeds.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella does not believe the current version of the rules has achieved the right balance.

“I would say that at the moment, the way cars are in the draft version of the regulations – and we need to say draft, because like we say, there’s a lot of work to do – the cars are not fast enough in the corners and too fast in the straights. So these two aspects need to be rebalanced.”

Team bosses are due to meet with FIA representatives tomorrow to discuss the rules.

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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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18 comments on “F1 will hardly be quicker than F2 under new 2026 rules, teams warn”

  1. Is it really an “all teams” thing? Hearing a lot of noise from the Mercedes PU teams. Not implying anything, just genuinely wondering what Ferrari, Honda, Renault think. Not to mention RBPT/Ford and Audi’s thoughts.

    Anyway I’m sure they’ll figure it out and come to some compromise as they do. There can be no doubt every team is lobbying for regulations that will play to their technology/development strengths.

  2. Formula 1 cars will be only slightly quicker than Formula 2 machines under the new rules proposed for the 2026, some teams have warned.

    Well, the solution is obvious, change the F2 rules……

    1. Problem is that they only introduced the Dallara F2 2024 this year, and it will be in use until 2029 at least.

      1. You don’t need a new car to make it slower. Just limit engine power, decrease wing size and floor surface. Done.

    2. Haha yeah that sounds like a typical FIA solution. They will probably think of some crude and inelegant solutions – weird tire sizes, tire compounds so hard that never warm-up to switch-on, or most likely just put a good old slab of lead in those cars so they become extra heavy.

      1. or most likely just put a good old slab of lead in those cars so they become extra heavy.

        And call it a battery and hybrid system, just to be relevant to F1.

        Reply moderated
  3. That happened back in 2014 as well. It didn’t take very long for the teams to figure out how to get that extra performance back and leave the F2 cars in the dust once more.

    1. @exediron The gap to F2 went up but the cars in general still looked slow, less spectacular and were less demanding on drivers physically the complaints of which (from fans as well as drivers) is what led to the 2017 regulations. Faster, more spectacular looking cars that were more physically demanding on drivers in corners.

      Slower cars are just going to be less interesting to watch as well as less challenging for drivers physically. That isn’t going to be a positive for the pinnacle of the sport.

      They are just repeating the same mistakes again and a few years later i bet they will change again to bring the speed, spectacle a d physical challenge back.

      1. Scrap power steering and it will be physically challenging.

  4. The more you hear the more obvious it becomes that the 2026 changes are rushed & unnecessary with the changes coming about solely because of them butchering the power units to appease Audi.

    When the buzz words are cost reduction and sustainability there’s no logic to coming up with radically different regulations after only 4 years since the last radical change of regulations.

    Should just have left them alone until maybe 2030 at the earliest.

    I mean is this going to become a more regular thing now where they just change regulations every 4 years.

    Just feels unnecessary and goes against the drive to reduce costs and improve competition goven how big rule changes always tend to reduce competition initially with things getting closer the longer they are left stable.

    1. I mean is this going to become a more regular thing now where they just change regulations every 4 years.

      Perhaps they should be drastically changed every year.

      Changing the technical regulations doesn’t cost anything. The teams still spend as much as they can regardless.
      But it does make it more interesting and rewarding when they spend it on new ideas and solutions rather than just refinement of the old ones.
      If the right changes are made, that can absolutely increase competition – on and off the track.

      Reply moderated
    2. There is sense in major rule changes. As technical regulations are quite prescriptive now, design novelty doesn’t last very long. There’s less room for it, and thus convergence happens pretty quickly. So a four year cycle makes sense. A regulatory shake up allows for mystery and intrigue to be injected back in. Remember, what people SAY they want isn’t necessarily how they behave. The stories generated between technical reg changes are quite popular.

      We’ll now have a slew of articles about how teams are unhappy. That’s good for business as it drives interest. In addition to the 2025 season, we’ll have a number of articles about 2025. Who has got it right, who hasn’t. The launches then become meaningful. The pre-season tests are vastly more interesting. etc…

      By the way closer competition across the grid might be the ‘stated’ aim, but is it really what people want in terms of actual behavior? I am not sure. There’s a reason no one really cares about winter testing in IndyCar and SuperFormula.

      1. There’s a reason no one really cares about winter testing in IndyCar and SuperFormula.

        There are actually two reasons – firstly; the racing is a lot better in those series than testing/practice, and secondly; they all use the same cars which hardly ever change significantly from year to year, with the driver line-up also not revolving that much either (as a series).
        There are far fewer silly games, secrets and hypotheticals involved than in F1 – they provide pretty much all their points of interest in the racing. Not in the media.

        Anyway, it’s no no-one – it’s just you. Lots of people are interested in those series more than they’ll ever be interested in F1. And that’s OK. Nobody is being forced to pick only one series to follow – people can enjoy any/all of them for their own features and reasons.

        Reply moderated
  5. Good! F2 cars being slower helps them to be able to race each other.
    Take notice, F1… It’s entirely possible to have both a technical competition and a real racing series at the same time – it just takes some reordering of priorities.

    Reply moderated
  6. F1 should definitely remain the world’s outright fastest circuit series rather than end up being slower than SF or even F2 as some have feared, but regarding Stella’s words, what even constitutes as ‘not fast enough’ in corners?
    No definition exists for a minimum cornering speed or even maximum for straights in the first place.

  7. I have read this morning that teams are complaining about the weight reduction as well. Because the new engines are heavier. And yet yesterday, we had Lewis, for example saying the weight reduction was not large enough.

    I think the teams are worried because of the costs involved in reducing the weight in a redesigned car. But they’re all in the same situation so I guess it’s more about having the will to do it. Easier of course for them if they don’t have to but they’re not listening to the drivers and the fans. Again.

    I don’t see why there is a rush though and these arbitrary deadlines. Why 2026 for a regulation change? If it’s too hurried and not thought through properly unsuitable compromises will be made. Why not delay to 2027?

  8. If this is true, the Formula E cars will be within 4-5 seconds of F1, at least at a track like Monaco. The Gen 4 cars for FE will lighter and have as much power and they’ll have all wheel drive. The biggest difference will be the tyres or else FE could literally compete on that track.

  9. Yea, fia doing fia things again, f2 is supposed to be slower than f1, if it’s barely faster people might just stay in f2

    Reply moderated

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