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Formula 1 power units set to hit 1,100bhp under new rules in 2026

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Formula 1 power units could produce up to 1,100bhp (820kW) under the new rules which will arrive in 2026.

The FIA’s single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis said the next generation of power units will produce around 100bhp more than the current V6 hybrid turbos.

While F1 teams do not specify the exact output of their power units, they are generally regarded to have around 1,000bhp. Alpine describes its Renault power unit as having “more than 950bhp”.

The current power unit regulations were introduced in 2014 and the FIA froze development of the hybrids at the beginning of 2022. It also announced new power unit rules for 2026, under which the performance of the combustion engine will fall but the output of the electrical systems will increase to approximately the same level.

Tombazis said the resulting power outputs will be “a bit higher than where we are now.”

“It’s going to be approximately up by about 100 horsepower,” he told the official F1 channel.

The FIA confirmed the first details of its new chassis regulations for 2026 last week. Tombazis said the changes are needed because the new power units are not well suited to the current chassis.

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“As much as the maximum power has gone up, because a lot of it is electrical, that cannot last for so long,” he said. “Therefore, towards the end of the straights, we need to have cars with lower aerodynamic drag, which is what these technical regulations have done.

“The current generation cars have a bit too high drag and therefore would suffer some velocity drop-off towards the end of the straights on the current cars. We believe we’ve solved this problem for the new cars.”

Some teams have predicted the new cars will be drastically slower than the current machines. One team principal even predicted they will be little quicker than Formula 2 cars, which presently lap around 11-12 seconds off F1 times.

However Tombazis expects the cars will not be significantly slower than today. “The car we’ve got on our simulations today is a bit slower but not by much,” he explained. “Maybe a couple of seconds or that sort of thing.

“But we are continuing to engage with the teams a lot, and we will be also discussing various measures that maybe will be increasing performance by a bit.

“So in that I don’t expect it to be a night-and-day difference, I think it’s going to be in the ballpark. Some circuits a bit faster, some circuits a bit slower, but in the ballpark.”

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There is scope to make F1 cars significantly quicker, said Tombazis, but outright performance is not the sole goal of the regulations.

“Clearly, Formula 1 has to be the pinnacle of the sport. It is not that difficult to make a car that is faster, if one wants. We have a lot of regulations that limit how fast the car can go.

“We can, within two days, write regulations that make the cars go faster by 20 seconds a lap, if you know what I mean. So it’s not the speed, the lap time isn’t really a be-all end-all.

“We want the cars to be challenging to drive, to be a test for the best drivers in the world. But to actually make a car that’s faster is not so difficult if you aren’t limited by 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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33 comments on “Formula 1 power units set to hit 1,100bhp under new rules in 2026”

  1. “We can, within two days, write regulations that make the cars go faster by 20 seconds a lap, if you know what I mean. So it’s not the speed, the lap time isn’t really a be-all end-all.

    If only they would write regulations that make F1 cars the size of a Lotus 49.
    So the cars are light and nimble and there is space even on Monaco to overtake.

    Instead the cars have as much surface as a camper.

    1. The Riddler
      12th June 2024, 12:06

      Well they easily could, but then you’d have drivers that died every time they crashed the things, just like the good old days. Cos that’s what you want, presumably?

      1. I bet we start seeing battery fires after crashes.

    2. A racing car should be wide and short, so you should look at sth like the 1990 Ferrari 641 sizewise, and not an archaic bathtub on wheels from the 1960s.

    3. One aspect that has pushed the size of the cars to be bigger, is the turbo hybrid solution. They have to package the car to fit the turbo, battery, engine, gearbox and cooling solutions. Remove the turbo, the car can be smaller, remove the hybrid solution you don’t need the battery, remove the ICE and you don’t need the space for the engine block. Sure there are safety things that have added to the bulk like side impact head rests, the halo and the monocoque, but the main bulk of the car is the internal components that drive the wheels, only by changing the fundamental components of what powers the wheels, will you be able to reduce the size of the car.

    4. And tons of power will only make the racing worse. So, 1,100hp is nothing to celebrate.

    5. You are what happens when someone who understands 20% of what’s happening is given a soapbox to demonstrate that ignorance.

  2. Interesting, although the thing about horsepower amounts is more so because even manufacturers themselves don’t necessarily know their actual amounts based on Bottas’ answer to a question in the 2019 Hungarian GP post-qualifying press conference about Renault claiming to have hit 1000bhp, which went as follows:
    ”Actually just yesterday I asked the team – because we had some engine issues, we had some talks about the engine and I asked how much horsepower we had in qualifying and the engineers said they don’t know, they don’t actually know, so no one knows.”

    As for lap times, I’m positive F1 will still remain considerably faster than F2, including the slowest F1 cars being faster than the fastest F2 cars, & while lap times indeed aren’t everything or necessarily even the most important factor, I hope 2026 would at least be more or less on par with the current aero regs, further into the cycle if not immediately, but we’ll see.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      12th June 2024, 11:57

      even manufacturers themselves don’t necessarily know their actual amounts (of horsepower)

      Of course the teams know, but the answer (if you get one) will always be “it depends”; too many settings and variables.

      1. I mean, generally when that question is asked aren’t we wondering about maximum horsepower output? Even road car manufacturers specify the rpm at which maximum horsepower output is achieved when a new model comes out, so you know, you can specify the variables. To avoid the “it depends” you can phrase the question as “what is the maximum power output of the engine at max power settings that you use during a race weekend”.

        The real reason engineers don’t say is that it’s a competition secret. It wouldn’t surprise me if the reason why the Mercedes engineers didn’t give Bottas a straight answer there is because they don’t want to risk the driver slipping it out accidentally somewhere and that’s what they train to answer to that question in a certain way. Just a thought

        1. @xenn1 Not an impossible scenario itself, but I doubt they would’ve deliberately avoided telling him the exact amount & if yes, I’m sure he would’ve answered differently to avoid contradictions.
          Something along the lines of ‘they didn’t tell me the exact amount when I asked’ rather than ”they don’t know” which would be contradictory.
          Likewise, in that same press conference, Hamilton said he doesn’t have any idea about their bhp, so either he wasn’t/has never been told, or answered in a contradictory manner.

        2. Chris Horton
          13th June 2024, 15:43

          I don’t understand why it’s a secret though? It’s not like ‘knowing’ how much power a rival has makes you any more capable of building an engine with that power yourself…

          It’s not as if they go, ‘that should do, we’ll leave it there’

  3. notagrumpyfan
    12th June 2024, 11:54

    It might have more power but that will be a very short push. With the drop of the MGU-H there will be quite a bit of extra energy wasted, which cannot be used to feed the electric motor.
    There are probably not enough braking points to fully charge the battery with kinetic energy on a single lap (8.5MJ) thus part of the energy will need to come from the ICE directly.
    Like in the blown diffuser days we might get higher revs in the turns again.

    The new Porsche 911 GTS will be more exciting than the PU’s in the pinnacle of motorsports.

    1. Coventry Climax
      12th June 2024, 13:06

      Exactly my thoughts reading the title and article.
      It’s nice to mention – and have – a high amount of BHP, but the essential and I even suspect deliberately omitted parameter and deciding factor about it, is for how long, so timewise and distancewise, and therefor for what % of a lap that power is there. If it’s just for 0.1 ms or 0.1% of a lap, the top BHP value is completely meaningless and all meaning falls back to the amounts of torque and BHP the engine has for the remaining 99.9% of a lap.

      What they do not mention, is that the ICE is actually reduced in power for ’26. That’s because F1’s goal is no longer being the pinnacle of engineering, it’s being the pinnacle of advertising fuel efficiency.

      Talking about which:
      A bit of calculation shows that on average, (max. kgs of fuel, average race distance, average circuit length) they burn slightly under 110 MJ of fuel per lap. With a very, very generous theoretical efficiency of 40% for an ICE, slightly under 45 MJ/lap is actually propelling the cars forward, and the rest is lost as heat and no longer recuperated. From the 45MJ/lap that’s actaully turned into kinetic energy, in ’23 only 2MJ/lap is recovered, which amounts to less than 5%, and again, that’s being very generous. Triple the Kinetic Recovery for ’26 and I’m still very much not impressed.

      They tripled the electric braking and still need extra top speed to be able to recuperate more Kinetic Energy. That’s the sole reason for the active aero, it has nothing to do with overtaking or any such sports related things.

      It’s called an Energy Store, indicating the thing holds something, like a container. Yet you need to go to significant lengths to even find a simple thing like the maximum capacity of that container. There’s so much blah going on it’s disgusting.

      1. notagrumpyfan
        12th June 2024, 13:58

        Interestingly we did a very similar calculation; anybody with high school level physics can do this and won’t be impressed.

        And also I like to stress to all those who believe that synthetic fuels are the solution, and F1 should drop all hybrid stuff:
        1) synthetic fuels are extremely inefficient to produce;
        2) you need to include the opportunity costs of the green energy used;
        And how stupid is it to then waste most of this synthetic fuel on
        3) a very inefficient combustion to movement process (even if it’s up to 45% as I understand the F1 ICE are) without harnessing the excess heat (besides a single turbo) or the energy lost in deceleration.

        To me synthetic fuels should be used primarily to fuel heritage cars and long haul planes/ships.

        And as we are rehashing physics classes: Producing Hydrogen via electrolysis and compression (low 70% efficiency) is a much better way to create a liquid fuel than synthetic fuels (not surpassing 40% overall efficiency).
        But don’t ask for hydrogen as a fuel, because you might still get an electric car ;)

        1. 1) is completely irrelevant in relation to F1, and actually reflects it as an entity. How much energy goes into developing and producing F1 cars, and what do they achieve as a result of it…
          2) you don’t – or at least not any more than you do with any other type of energy storage or conversion medium.
          3) is exactly the same regardless of whether the liquid fuel is synthetic or fossil-based.
          How much of the sun, wind and sea’s energy is simply uncaptured and ‘wasted’ right now? Using even 1% of it at just 1% efficiency is far better than not using any of it for any good it at all.

          F1 can (and will eventually) go full synthetic, and that is completely independent of whether hybrid is still included or not. They could use one or the other, both or neither.

          And as for hydrogen – sure, it’s a great fuel (almost ideal) and I’m looking forward to it being further developed in motorsport – but at no time will it ever produce the same kind of racing that motorsports currently feature. Energy density is a big deal, and everyone is kinda used to high-density (fossil) fuels.
          Toyota, for one, are using hydrogen now in competition (they entered their liquid H2-fuelled Corolla in the Super Taikyu Fuji 24hr last month for the second year running).
          And even if using a fuel cell were the preferred option (rather than combustion) it still wouldn’t be relying solely on environmentally filthy batteries as an energy container – which is a huge score in hydrogen’s favour no matter how you look at it.

        2. To me synthetic fuels should be used primarily to fuel heritage cars and long haul planes/ships.

          Yeah, well powering long haul ships with synthetic fuel would be stupid. Large container ships use the lowest form of fuel there is, bunker oil, which is the dregs of the refining process. The fuel is so thick it has to be heated so it can be pumped into the engines. The quantity of fuel a large container ship burns is astounding, up to 200 tonnes/day. Mileage is not great.

          The problem with bunker fuel is that it has concentrated sulfur content and, if you do some calculations (which I will not repeat here) they are THE largest source of sulfur from fuel in the world by a huge margin. I’m trying to recall calcs I did a few years ago on this topic, so am sort of making numbers up here, but one MSC Irina Class, which are the largest container ships and carries almost 25,000 equivalent containers, produces as much sulfur as all the cars in England combined, not to mention other tailpipe pollutants. One ship. Synthetic fuels will never be used to power these vessels if only because of cost. On the plus side there are some required changes in ship emissions which will, hopefully reduce the pollution produced by these huge (up to 22,000 litre) 2 stroke turbo diesels.

          1. notagrumpyfan
            13th June 2024, 6:47

            The big ship has already set sail:
            https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/sustainability-green-technology/container-ships-lead-alternative-fuels-league

            And note that synthetic fuel is not just petrol, but can be methane as well.

          2. Methane is a synthetic fuel? You do realize that’s what natural gas is, I hope.

          3. notagrumpyfan
            13th June 2024, 17:59

            @stever,
            You overlooked the “can be” in my statement. You should’ve realised that before replying.

            (Almost) any hydrocarbon fuel can be made synthetically.

          4. Fair enough. The real question is what is the energy cost of making that fuel and is there a better use of that energy; this is a complex question. For example, the current dominant method of producing hydrogen is a steam process treating methane, but the energy available from the hydrogen is far less than the energy cost to make it. Sure, if we had solar energy to crack water the energy cost would be essentially zero, but there are huge infrastructure costs required to develop a hydrogen system.

      2. I agree, I did try to go to significant lengths to find out the capacity of the 2026 energy store (battery), and never found a convincing and confident answer. The consensus seemed to be that it’ll continue to remain unchanged (since 2014) at 4MJ, just over 1 kWh, so about 40x smaller than the average electric road car. Not exactly the pinnacle of automotive technology. This means the 2026 cars’ motor could fully discharge a battery in about 11 seconds, which might limit the capability of the manual override mode to help overtaking.

        Did you have any luck finding the battery capacity? I wonder why they’re keeping it secret. I wonder why they’ve seemingly not increased it.

        1. It is not a secret, there is a maximum of 4MJ between full and empty.

  4. Paul Grainger
    12th June 2024, 11:59

    I don’t understand why they don’t just decide on the ideal car dimensions, factor in the space/weight needed to accommodate the desired PU and modern safety devices, and then build out of a set of regs from there that (1) achieve roughly the same downforce levels and (2) integrate the learnings made over the past decade to decrease the aerodynamic sensitivities that impact close racing.

    It seems they’re stuck ‘polishing a turd’ so to speak with these fundamentally iterative regulation ‘overhauls’.

  5. With the current cars on some tracks they spend more than 70% time on full throttle according to the F1 intro data before the races. I would definitely prefer it was lower (more power, less grip) to make the cars a bit more challenging to drive, and maybe look faster even though they arent. In many corners they can just slap the throttle down like its a mx5 :)

    1. The Dolphins
      12th June 2024, 14:39

      I agree, less power is often more exciting to watch because it becomes a game of efficiency and trying different lines much like in karts. However there’s a fine line and nobody wants F1 cars’ lap times to come near those of F2 or Indy. I trust Nikolas’ assumptions about the lap times dropping by a few seconds (of course it is circuit-dependent) and I believe the engineers will have recovered all of that lost time by 2028.

    2. Totally agreed. Aside from the fact that the cars are constantly driving to a delta to keep the tyres in operation, another big part of the staleness of most races is that the cars are underpowered and handling them is well within the capabilities of these elite drivers.

      The FIA can work on this on both ends. Preferably by taking away grip rather than making the engine/motor more powerful. Not in a twitchy sense where it becomes unpredictable, but just less overall. Less from the wings, less from the tyres, less from the underbody.

  6. 1 MJ/min is 22.3 bhp
    8.5 MJ / 1.5 min is 126 bhp per lap

    so with a 550 bhp motor and 126 bhp over the course of a lap you average 676 bhp, which is less than the 700 bhp of the ICE on the current formula.

    the current PU is 1050 peak hp
    the proposed PU peak is 1100 peak hp.

    so not much faster, just less power output over a whole lap.

    the cars will also be worse handling and probably weigh more.

    1. The new regs say a drop in weight of 30 kg. 100mm narrower and 200mm shorter than currently.

      1. The planned minimum weight for now anyways. The teams are skeptical it can be achieved and they’re the ones who have to actually build them.

  7. David Thompson
    13th June 2024, 2:14

    Still sound terrible?

    1. Even worse.

  8. Looks like an engine for a double decker bus

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