Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

Hamilton concerned 2026 F1 rules will make cars “pretty slow”

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1 needs to go further to reduce the weight of cars despite the planned cut for 2026 announced yesterday.

The FIA revealed the first details of the new regulations for 2026 including a reduction in the minimum weight from 798 kilograms to 768.

“It’s only 30 kilos, so it’s going in the right direction, but it’s still heavy,” said Hamilton. The next generation of cars will be heavier than those raced in 2021.

The FIA expects teams will be able to achieve the reduction in weight partly through a reduction in the maximum dimensions of the cars. The 2026 cars will be shorter and narrower than the current machines.

2026 F1 car rendering - front
Analysis: Z-mode and X-mode – How Formula 1’s new active aero will work in 2026
However the cars will also generate significantly less downforce than before, leaving Hamilton concerned lap times will rise. “I’ve spoken to some drivers who have driven it on the simulator – I haven’t – but they said it’s pretty slow. So we will see whether it’s actually the right direction or not.”

However he believes F1 is heading in the right directed by making the electrical component of the hybrid engines more powerful and introducing sustainable fuel.

“In terms of sustainability, particularly on the power unit side, I think that’s a really bold step and I think it’s going in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve just got to make sure the cars are efficient, fast, and a natural step forward, and actually racing is improved.”

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Hamilton’s team mate George Russell said yesterday the new cars are likely to be quicker on the straights but slower in the corners. Nico Hulkenberg has the same impression.

Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Analysis: DRS out, “Manual Override Mode” in – F1’s new overtaking aid explained
“It’s certainly quite different,” said the Haas driver. “Some interesting areas and aspects. I think some that still need a bit further work.

“Like Lewis said, I think the weight reduction is good, but then 30 kilos is… not the world. It looks like a lot less downforce, especially high-speed corners. It will be quite a different scenario and characteristic to now.

“So there is going to be definitely a drastic change and change… you’re not always so open to it. But we’ll see what happens between now and, in the one-and-a-half years [before they arrive], if there might be some small adjustments or not with what’s going on.”

Yuki Tsunoda is encouraged by what he’s seen of the car but concerned overtaking may become more difficult as cars will no longer have DRS.

“It looks nice,” he told the official F1 channel, “30 [kilos] lighter and narrower which allows us to hopefully overtake more in the corners rather than the straight.

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“But I think removing the DRS, that’ll be interesting. Especially as it’s hard to imagine with the current car that, removing DRS, we’ll be able to overtake. But hopefully the simulation is going well and looking forward to seeing that.”

The FIA has announced plans for a ‘Manual Override Mode’ which will replicate the effect of DRS by allowing chasing drivers to gain a power boost.

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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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27 comments on “Hamilton concerned 2026 F1 rules will make cars “pretty slow””

  1. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow the cars are. They should be difficult to drive and be able to race each other above all else.
    Nobody would be complaining at losing a few/several seconds per lap if the races were always good. Not even the drivers, as they prefer racing over parading too.
    Or at least – they used to, and they say they do.

    1. it kinda does, because they will have to slow down the WEC cars even more if F1 cars keep getting slower.

      1. F1 cars are around 12 seconds a lap quicker than hypercars so plenty of space to get slower. If they got rid of hybrids and had big v12’s on sustainable fuel and were 100kg less they’d be perfect and just as fast. Relativley simple engine so can bring back manual gearboxes. That would shake things up.

      2. They don’t. They are two completely independent series.
        If someone chooses to watch only the fastest series solely or primarily because it is the fastest series, then they are doing themselves a massive disservice.

  2. I agree the changes in weight but also size of the cars do not go far enough to ensure improved racing (the Monaco issue will for instance not be solved since the cars are still way too big). Also concerned about the manual circus mode gimmick. I understand Liberty profits from overtakes, but as a non casual viewer I value the skill involved with an overtake over the number of overtakes. They are meaningless if result of an advantage over the other car.

    1. I’m not bothered about the width of the cars, I’m bothered about the length of the cars. They’re too long these days, which is more of an issue.

  3. becken lima
    7th June 2024, 12:58

    should be good news to drivers who are getting older…

    1. dont know any who are getting younger

      1. !!! I’ll have to remember that one!

    2. Almost all the lap time is gained in slow corners, so it doesn’t really help anyone. Changes always favor younger drivers though due to more nuero elasticity.

  4. There is an article in Dutch media with the feedback of Verstappen who has been driving it on the sim and other drivers. It’s pretty lengthy, but his conclusion is that he had the same concerns that Lewis had, but is now a bit more positive. However, there are still a number of issues that should be adressed or are not clear yet(it’s getting more complex, and the weight should be further removed) and time is running out. So he’s on the fence for now.

    Here’s the link (it’s in Dutch):
    https://www.nu.nl/nu-formule-1/6315829/f1-coureurs-hebben-zorgen-over-nieuwe-regels-veld-gaat-weer-uit-elkaar.html

    1. Got it translated here:

      The FIA and Formula 1 presented the new technical regulations for 2026 on Thursday. The drivers are cautiously optimistic, although they still have some questions about certain choices. Max Verstappen also hopes that the cars will not become too complicated.

      The new regulations are mainly aimed at making the cars better able to race against each other. For example, drivers have been complaining for years about the cars being too heavy, which currently have to weigh at least 798 kilograms. That weight will be reduced by 30 kilograms.

      Lewis Hamilton thinks this difference is too small. “It’s only 30 kilos. It’s a step in the right direction, but I still think the car is too heavy.” The seven-time world champion has other concerns as well: “I haven’t tried it myself, but I heard from other drivers who have tested these rules in the simulator that the cars are slow.”

      Max Verstappen was one of those drivers. Earlier, he expressed concerns about the new concept where drivers have to downshift on straight sections to recover energy. In 2026, half of the propulsion must be electric.

      The Dutchman is now more positive. “I’m somewhat in the middle,” he said on Thursday. The championship leader explains what has been adjusted: “They say it’s 50 percent fuel engine and 50 percent electric, but that’s not entirely accurate. That’s why active aerodynamics are needed.”

      Moveable front and rear wings for cornering grip
      By active aerodynamics, Verstappen refers to the front and rear wings. These will have different settings for corners and straight sections to provide grip in the corners and reduce air resistance when the car is going straight.
      “This way, a decent lap can be driven without the battery running out before the end of the lap. I think they have realized this,” said Verstappen. “This has, of course, been in the works for a while. From the first time I saw it to how it is now, a lot of progress has been made. On one track we will be faster than now, and on other tracks slower.”

      Verstappen still can’t fully predict how it will work with overtaking. “There are just some things I don’t fully understand yet. It will definitely be a lot more complicated.”
      The reigning world champion hopes it won’t become too complicated. “That is still a question mark. More simulation is certainly needed, but they are still working on it.”
      “2026 is still far away, but it is short notice for engine development. But if the racing improves significantly, everyone will be happy. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised too.”

      Concerns that the field will spread out again
      The drivers only fear that the field will spread out again in 2026, while it has been getting closer together at the front recently. “That usually happens when new rules are introduced,” said Hamilton.
      The seven-time world champion benefited from the introduction of hybrid turbo engines in 2014, which Mercedes clearly developed the best. “I hope it won’t be too bad this time. The engines are not completely new.”
      “You always have a chance that one team gets everything right, then it takes others years to catch up,” said Sergio Pérez. The Red Bull driver prefers the rules to stay the same for years. “That’s the best for the sport. But you also have to move forward with new technology to attract new car manufacturers.”
      Oscar Piastri sees it as a balancing act. His McLaren can now truly compete with Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull. “And when new rules come, the field spreads out again. Formula 1 must, however, continue to revolve around technology and innovation, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of racing.”

      ‘It will be quite drastic’
      For Formula 1, it remains crucial to attract new manufacturers. With the introduction of the new power unit in 2026 – a V6 turbo hybrid but with significantly more electric power – Red Bull Powertrains (in collaboration with Ford) and Audi have entered the scene.
      Nico Hülkenberg recently signed with Audi, currently known as Sauber. The German thinks the cars will be very different. “It will be quite drastic and we are not always open to all changes,” said the current Haas driver.
      “Some aspects are certainly interesting. There seems to be much less downforce. And they are becoming lighter, although 30 kilograms is not a huge amount. I think the rules still need some tweaking.”

      Some cars are already too heavy
      Verstappen doubts whether those 30 kilograms can actually be removed from the cars. “At the moment, it is very difficult to lose that weight. Even now, some teams are above the 798-kilogram limit. So if 30 kilograms can really be removed, with the current engines, it would be in a perfect scenario.”
      “Actually, at least 100 or 150 kilograms should be removed,” Verstappen believes. “But at the moment, that is simply impossible. The engines and batteries are too heavy for that. Safety measures also add a lot of weight.”
      A significant weight loss is needed, according to the Red Bull leader, to make the cars more agile and fun. “At the moment, however, that is wishful thinking.”

      1. “Actually, at least 100 or 150 kilograms should be removed,” Verstappen believes. “But at the moment, that is simply impossible. The engines and batteries are too heavy for that.

        Exactly this. How about removing the minimum weight limits for the engine and batteries?

        1. It’s been disappointing that the introduction of the budget cap has not been accompanied by a relaxation of the technical rules that were, at least in part, introduced to curb spending. If anything, the rules for the 2022 and now 2026 specs are more prescriptive than ever before.

      2. Making definitive conclusions that the minimum requirement of 768 kg would be unachievable is premature for drivers at this point, especially given the areas that reduce weight will have a greater overall impact than the increased battery size.
        He of course also can’t know for sure about other teams, but Williams is the only overweight team presently, or at least the only publically known one.

  5. I think every driver that pushes this narrative is indicative of their team not being as good at getting the most out of the battery.
    We know these drivers are trained hard on talking points and what messages to put out into the public consciousness.

  6. Coventry Climax
    7th June 2024, 14:38

    Like we’ve seen with so many drivers; when they get to a certain age and into the fall of their career, the fact they’ve been around so long means they’ve been fairly successful, which makes them financially independent. So it becomes ever less important to constantly please their future, potential employers.
    And that makes them speak their mind -and the undiluted truth- way more easily.

    Now, you could turn this around and give a name to those drivers that still only talk to please their -potential- work environment, following strict rules imposed upon them through contract and/or ‘media training’, but most -if not all- people do what they need to do to survive in their environment. It’s those that create that environment in the first place that are to blame here.

    1. Good argument, though it is perhaps even more skewed than you might think. Every year teams become more and more PR savvy, so the drivers today who have been around 10 years were not as groomed in PR speak in their early years as today’s rookies are.

  7. That’s a good thing for Hamilton. Clearly the current cars are too much faster than Hamilton’s driving ability.

    1. the Mercedes 2020 car will probably be the fastest f1 car of all time didn’t seem to be a problem for him. In fact it was so fast the fia introduced new regulations on the back of the floor to slow them down, a regulation that was designed to slow down low rake cars (Mercedes) and help high rake cars redbull…… Mercedes were 1.5 seconds slower in 2021 compared to 2020 despite the fia say the 2020 cars would be used in 2021 because of covid and because they didn’t want manufacturers to quit. But sure these cars are Too fast for Hamilton. Hamilton currently Holds the lap record for 10 tracks used by f1…. Only 3 other fastest laps have been set since after 2021 but only because certain tracks have been made shorter. You probably didn’t know most of that because you spend most of your days on f1 websites talking about how great max verstappan is and the fact that none of the redbulls from 2022/24 have beaten a track record on a track that hasn’t had major changes to make the laps quicker… Spain, las vegas and Qatar. Spain & Qatar have all had changes since 2021. Also Hamilton has the fastest lap ever set at Singapore set last year…. netflix f1 fans are the worst.

      1. lewis hamilton also holds the fastest lap ever set at monza in terms of time & speed.

        you clown. stick to drive to survive

      2. Adam The 2021 tweaks were solely for Pirelli & the outright fastest lap for the current Marina Bay configuration belongs to Sainz actually, & the Losail circuit configuration itself didn’t get any alterations.
        Btw, 2020 cars indeed got used in 2021, but with modifications, effectively making them detuned 2020 cars.

    2. The speed of the current cars have nothing to do with how Hamilton is doing. Moreover, barely any time is gained or lost in the fastest corners. The slower the corner, the more time there is to be gained.

  8. 30 kg is already quite a lot, but I’m still surprised & would like to know how FIA’s 40-50 kg reduction target failed, given the 50-50 electric to ICE power ratio has been in the plan from the get-go, & the initial kg range target was mentioned even before the wheel rim dimension reduction proposal.

  9. Hopefully not too much slower as I think back to 2014 where they were what 4-5 seconds slower than they had been & it was really noticeable on TV as they just looked that bit less impressive; especially when compared to F2 as there was less of a performance difference between them.

    The other downside of course was that the slower performance made it less physically challenging for the drivers. I remember Martin Brundle talking about how drivers were getting out of cars after races and looking like they had just come back from a short walk when the previous year they had looked more physically taxed after races.

    and let us not forget that the 2017 regulation changes were aimed at making the cars faster based off the critisism’s not just of drivers but also the fans. and the goal wasn’t simply to make cars faster to reduce lap times but also to physically challenge drivers a bit more which they achieved as I think back to 2017 and there was a few times where the drivers looked pretty drained after races. i recall lewis hamilton sounding like he was knackered on the radio a few times for example.

    1. The other downside of course was that the slower performance made it less physically challenging for the drivers.

      The drivers never look drained (now, or at any point in the last couple of decades) in F1 because the race strategy determined by the teams’ computers doesn’t require or allow them to exert much physical effort into driving.
      With one exception – Qatar 2023.
      Even with F1 cars that are relatively easy to drive, that one still took it out of them as they were actually pushing for pace the whole time. It’s not the speed, it’s how they approach the competition and strategy.
      F2 is more physically exhausting than F1 most of the time.

      Lap times are only important to people who aren’t actually interested in the skill and craft of racing.

  10. Hamilton is absolutely right. He has ride several generations of F1 cars. So he clearly has something to say about the new rules. They suck bigass. Heavy, slow and out of battery lol. F1 unworthy.

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