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Formula 1 could scrap hybrids in next rules change after 2026 – Domenicali

Formula 1

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali believes the series’ new engine regulations for 2026 could be the last which require hybrid power units.

The new rules, which were agreed two years ago, will rely more heavily on electrical power than before. But Domenicali believes the arrival of ‘sustainable’ fuels in 2026 will allow F1 to do away with hybrids and shift back to using conventional combustion engines in the future.

“My personal opinion is that it would be sufficient to use climate-neutral fuel,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “However, we had to take the manufacturers’ wishes into account.

“Things have developed so quickly that today a decision might be different from two years ago. I am not an engineer, but I must have a vision of what the sport will look like in the future.

“I can imagine that with the next regulations, we could limit ourselves to sustainable fuel. If we are able to show that we produce zero emissions with it, we can focus on other important aspects of sustainability.”

The decision to increase the electrical power of the 2026 engines was taken due to pressure from car manufacturers, said Domenicali.

“You always have to keep an eye on the political climate of the time,” he said. “There were moments when we were asked to go completely electrified. We stuck to the hybrid solution and then realised that with sustainable fuel we could show the world that there are other technologies. But at the time when the 2026 engine regulations were written, we could not do without hybrid.

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“At the time, it was important to the manufacturers that the share of electric power was increased. Today they might think differently because the world has realised that there are several ways to achieve sustainability. Today they realise that our approach with the fuel could be of benefit to them in the series.

Stefano Domenicali
Large-scale sustainable fuel production is “a long way off”
“It is no coincidence that more and more manufacturers are interested in Formula 1. We know that development in Formula 1 finds a solution for everything. If the goal is not ambitious, the engineers will have achieved it tomorrow. Just look at how the current cars and hybrid drives have developed since 2014.”

From 2026, F1 will require teams to use synthetic fuel which comes from a carbon-neutral source. Although such fuels can be used in conventional road cars, they cannot yet be produced in sufficient quantities to replace fossil fuels, which Domenicali acknowledged.

“People need to understand that the fuel we will use will not only be sustainable, but can be put into any road car as soon as the market is able to offer this fuel at a reasonable price,” he said. “At the moment, this goal is still a long way off, but Formula 1 is known for being able to achieve a lot in a compressed time. That must be our message.

“We don’t want to fight against electric vehicles, but rather open people’s eyes to the fact that there are other technologies to reach the goal. And we need to promote our sport by showing everyone that Formula 1 is ahead of everyone else in the development of these fuels.”

Domenicali said removing hybrids would make it easier for the sport to achieve other improvements it wants to see from future rules.

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“Cars and engines would then be lighter and less complex again,” he said. “And the engines would have a good sound once more. That is important to the fans.

“But for now, we should concentrate on the next step, not the one after that.”

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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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67 comments on “Formula 1 could scrap hybrids in next rules change after 2026 – Domenicali”

  1. If you look closely at that picture of Domenicali raising his arm, you can see the strings of his Aramco puppet-masters.

    1. Yep he is a complete corporate sellout.

      Like Ecclestone but without the ability.

    2. Be that as it may, there is a good discussion to have there. Creating synthetic fuels is certainly possible, but the opportunity costs are real. Is it ‘worth it’ to create synthetic fuels (which have the same inefficient drawbacks that all ICE’s essentially have) with renewable energy? It’s one of the common complaints about synthetic fuels. But on the other hand, one of the big pros about it is that you can transport synthetic fuels essentially lossless, which most certainly is not the case for electricity (and current battery technology has a whole slew of other problems).

      So creating synthetic fuels might not make much sense in areas where renewable energy has limited efficiency and there is a large local demand for electricity (like in Central Europe). But it’s a very different story if the renewable energy can have a very high efficiency (like wind energy on the Pacific coast) and local electricity demands are low.

      Solar energy is not very efficient in comparison to other forms of renewable energy (I think it was around 20%, but it might have improved a bit since), but obviously Saudi Arabia / Aramco have a huge amount of land to work with, no lack of sunshine and a pretty small population. So a synthetic fuel industry might make sense there.

      1. Coventry Climax
        19th June 2024, 11:57

        Let’s start that discussion by not twisting facts or discuss dreams:
        Public-wide availability of sustainable fuels?
        Like in pumping water out of the oceans and use that, with zero environmental impact?

        This man is openly telling the world the Perpetuum Mobile has recently been invented.
        Get real.

        1. It’s quite a caricature to call it a perpetuum mobile. Synthetic fuels are real. But it’s fairly new, and it’s small-scale at the moment. All true. The process to make it are not without problems or trade-offs, but should nevertheless be part of any discussion about the future of transportation if for no other reason than the problematic weight of batteries (which has not been nearly as easy to solve as many EV-proponents claimed 15 years ago).

          Maybe it’ll be the case that synthetic fuels are only really economically and environmentally viable/reasonable to use in air travel where there is no good alternative. Possible. But no reason to stop innovation and see where it goes and what is possible.

          1. Coventry Climax
            19th June 2024, 17:24

            As far as I know, the only process to give a net gain in energy and not hugely pollute the environment, is nuclear fusion. The other nuclear reactions come with byproducts that any person with a grain of respect for the planet will call pollution – and it’s in lethal quantities and over a stretch of time noone can even claim to oversee.

            Not that long ago it was explained to us (if I’m not mistaken by that guy that messed up hugely at Williams, but is welcome at the FiA, the name won’t come to mind now) that the sustainable fuel was to be derived from potato peels. Half the planet eats rice, but let’s take these words as a silly mistake by the engineer involved in the process(!), and that he meant to say bio mass in general.
            Well, as it stands now, bio mass is not sufficient, threatens nature reserve as well as agricultural area and is net polluting.
            Apart from that, it’s simply not possible, by the laws of nature -so that means it’s no belief or opinion on my behalf- to create more energy than it takes to convert one type into the other. A concept that is otherwise know as the perpetuum mobile.
            You calling that a caricature is fine, but I put that under belief, opinion, religion even, with no scientific basis.

            Like I said, get real. This talk about sustainable fuel for the worldwide automotive public is a downright lie, and those who advocate it should be prosecuted for misleading the public.
            Just remember where this comes from: Aramco. It’s the same as British American Tobacco claiming smoking is good for your health. And for sure, if they pay enough, they’ll even find a ‘scientist’ spreading the word.

            Now. before you jump to other conclusions: I’d be all for F1 scrapping all this hybrid stuff, for different reasons though.

          2. Synthetic fuels are real. But it’s fairly new, and it’s small-scale at the moment. All true.

            Not so fast MichaelN….. From Wikipedia, with tons more sources on the subject available…

            During World War II (1939-1945), Germany used synthetic-oil manufacturing (German: Kohleverflüssigung) to produce substitute (Ersatz) oil products by using the Bergius process (from coal), the Fischer–Tropsch process (water gas), and other methods (Zeitz used the TTH and MTH processes).

      2. Even if we do not take in account the correct remark from Coventry Climax here MichaelN there is indeed a great case for using batteries in the cars.

        The point is that the battery is filled from regeneration of brake power and kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted. It then gets used to power the car in the power band where any ICE powerunit lacks in efficiency and power making it an obvious thing to do for anyone seeking to get as much power to the axles as makes sense.

        1. Hybrid cars with small batteries are indeed very useful in normal vehicles, especially when the weight is kept under control by limiting the all-electric range.

          In race cars? Maybe. It also depends on circumstances and other regulations. I don’t think we’ve ever seen hybrid cars race non-hybrid cars in series without the latter being forced to make serious compromises. LMP1 obviously had some non-hybrids, but it was very much a stacked deck because the manufacturers were all running hybrid cars.

          1. I don’t think we’ve ever seen hybrid cars race non-hybrid cars in series without the latter being forced to make serious compromises.

            There was a small race organization called Formula One (F1) which did this. Most participants eventually chose the hybrid route even before the rules were changed to force the use of hybrid powertrains.

          2. This only shows you do not understand cars and power curves of ICE engines and how they impact traction, acceleration and efficiency MichaelN.

            Especially for a car that you want to accelerate very fast out of a slow moment, that extra power from the battery (which IS in fact getting cheaper and lighter at record breaking pace) is crucial since ICE engines have poor power bands for that first oomph so especially supercars, race cars etc hugely benefit from having the battery. And since they use even more braking than cars on the street, they have ample reasons to regenerate energy from that, instead of wasting it as heat (and having to allow for extra ducting to get rid of that heat on top).

            For road cars, these batteries make huge sense for improved fuel economy especially with lowering battery cost. For race cars/performance cars they help even out the powerband enabling the manufacturer to better tune and optimise how fast it can go.

    3. Indeed.

      It makes no sense at all with batteries getting cheaper and better/more efficient/lighter at record speed to stop using electric power to enhance the power curve for cars, apart from a wish to be a platform to showcase “look at the e-fuel that powers this exclusively”.

      1. electric car sales are falling lol

        1. Not really though. And even then, that has nothing to do with cost going down but far more with infrastructure not being up there combined with the high prices car makers in the west want (mostly because they haven’t managed to get to a scale and refinement of their processes that they can build cheaper ones, as well as the lower cost of batteries only starting to get to the production now).

    4. He seems like a joke, but the new PU formula is an absolute joke since:

      -they’re literally going to be burning fuel to charge the battery
      -since the tanks won’t be big and they’ll be burning fuel to charge the battery, they’re going to constantly be running slow to manage fuel consumption
      -despite claiming they do all this because they want green and road relevant tech, this tech will obviously never be used in IRL since it’s not at all efficient

      F1 needs to stop pretending it’s an important vehicle for developing green tech and remember that it’s supposed to entertainment. Had they wanted to be green tech relevant they would have used front wheel motors, but teams thought that’d give Audi an advantage since they have experience with that in LMP1.

      F1 also shouldn’t worry about trying to keep manufacturers. Most of the existing teams will stay because being in F1 is now profitable and there will be folks glad to buy up those who don’t.

      1. Bill Heffner
        19th June 2024, 15:03

        One of the few sane statements I’ve read about F1 power and “green energy.” Burning fuel to charge the battery is not saving the planet. It is affecting the power curve of the car in interesting ways, but it is changing absolutely nothing in the way of reducing the use of hydrocarbon or production of emissions. The ICE is used to produce the power that charges the battery, so the battery/electricity is nothing more than a pass-through of the power produced by the engine. Window dressing.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          20th June 2024, 7:56

          Burning fuel to charge the battery is not saving the planet

          Is a very misleading statement. Fuel is burnt to drive the vehicle forward and does not directly charge the battery. The battery harvests kinetic energy under braking. This energy would otherwise be lost.

          Hybrid cars are more efficient in the use of fuel and will go farther. Explain to me how this is

          Window dressing

          1. It’s not misleading. The engine will continue to run hard under braking to charge the batteries. They are at their limit in the producing enough charge to produce 300hp and they’re ditching the MGU-H, which means they’ll even have a bigger deficit to make up. Therefore they’ll be running the engine even more to charge the battery. Might as well just to stick to a battery level they can actually charge and just use that fuel to power a more powerful ICE.

      2. Coventry Climax
        19th June 2024, 17:56

        exactly.

        Allow me to make a remark on:
        -they’re literally going to be burning fuel to charge the battery

        They already are. If they don’t put fuel in the tank, an F1 car may come forward for one third of a track max, if, and only if, they use a pre-charged battery.

        A max of 40% of the fuel is used to propel the car forward, 60% of the fuel burnt is lost to heat, either directly or through friction. (No, that’s not a belief, it’s automotive engineering’s limiting laws of physics – the theoretical maximum efficiency of an Otto cycle ICE.)
        All hybrid components are add-ons, intended to regain, store and reuse some of the energy that’s otherwise lost. That’s either heat or motion (kinetic).
        The MGU-H, the heat recovery, is completely scrapped as per ’26. They claim an efficiency of 50% now; per ’26 they will not be able to make it above 40% – whatever they may claim in their commercial speak.

        Of the 40% that’s converted to ‘speed’, part of that kinetics is regenerated when the car is put under braking. (The whopping amount of MJ they claim to regain is hardly sufficient for one third of the average lap.)

        And yet, again and again, people say the energy will be 50-50 fuel-electric, which is complete B S. The energy driving the car is 100% by fuel, no less. That fuel may be used more efficiently, but the cars nonetheless run on fuel only.

    5. Guess you can never satisfy people. They put more electric people complain, they suggest to go back to full ICE and people still complain.

      1. Coventry Climax
        19th June 2024, 18:03

        @yaru

        That’s just part of the story. Why I complain is because the claims are all under false pretext.
        I’d be happy if F1 would ditch all the hybrid stuff. Just don’t claim you can do it because the fuel you’ll be using is supposedly ‘sustainable’. That’s just a big lie, a hoax and a false pretext.

        1. If you include the fuel used to make the battery, and you avoid the “commercial speak” you refer to, is it even more sustainable to run “the hybrid stuff”?

          1. Coventry Climax
            20th June 2024, 5:17

            Sustainability factors are lifecycle, required numbers, the resources and materials needed to create the product – and the products/machinery necessary to create that product in the first place, plus the energy and effort needed to desintegrate the article back to it’s natural and non toxic components and bring the environment back to its original state, such that you can do it all again without impact on the environment. The last bit is generally postponed by the process of recycling.
            It therefor requires quite a bit before a product can be labeled ‘sustainable’, and it’s actually already doubtful the label is used rightfully in the vast majority of cases.

            The mileage of an F1 car amounts to the number of F1 rounds in a season, multiplied by the minimum race distance of 305 km’s plus the laps they do in all of the other sessions each race weekend. The lifespan of them is just one season, with recycling probably non-existent and ‘museum lifecycle’ not taken into account. While we don’t ‘need’ large numbers of them anually per household, it still compares quite unfavorable to the figures for road cars, already not the best example regarding sustainablility.

            You ask a valid question whether all the effort, energy and materials put into designing, creating and running these systems specifically for an F1 car, will ever justify giving them the label ‘sustainable’.

            These days, people will almost always do away with any plastic article as ‘not sustainable’, and while that’s certainly true for the vast majority of the absolute nonsense and rubbish articles sold these days, there’s products out of natural materials as well that are just are an absolute waste of valuable resources, so it’s not just the materials used that counts. There’s plastic items that last very, very long and you don’t need that many of, per household. Handles of kitchen knives come to mind, but there’s plenty other examples.
            People often confuse sustainability with ‘made from natural materials’, and marketing is only happy to feed that confusion.

    6. And yet this is for the better. Aspirated V12’s might not be a far fetched dream which is amazing.

    7. Winner of the caption competition!

  2. “climate-neutral fuels” What’s that now?

    1. A bit of a pipe dream!

    2. greenwashing!

  3. The next technical regulation cycle is unfortunately a missed opportunity for a non-hybrid powertrain running on synthetic fuel.

    1. +1

      What a sad thought.

    2. There’s already ICE running on synthetic for the next engine regs. So I don’t see what the fuss about non hybrids are about.

      1. Yes, but waiting until 2030 or 31 instead of doing so already for 2026 is the essential point.

        1. Precisely.

      2. Because the hybrid system is physically large and heavy.
        Many people want smaller, lighter race cars, and one (very good) way to achieve that is to take components out of the cars – even if they do serve a purpose.

  4. Instead of scraping hybrids how about scraping Dominicali and Liberty Media?

    1. Coventry Climax
      19th June 2024, 11:49

      As much as I’d like scraping them, personally, I’ll settle for scrapping.

      1. I’ll take either, but I prefer the former.

    2. lol what a stupid idea.

      1. What’s “stupid” about punishing Dominicali and Liberty and then getting rid of them? The series is better as a result. Might even get Andretti/Cadillac as a bonus.

        1. roger norman, because, in you desire to “punish” them, you have failed to come up with anything beyond pointless nihilism?

  5. Scarbs made a very interesting comment on the Peter Windsor podcast. The current generation of hybrid engines are now so efficient with their 100kg of fuel, in comparison to the v10 era at Monza without refueling you’d need to start with 240kg of fuel. Basically a return to ICE only would almost certainly mandate a return to refueling.

    1. V6 is different from V10, though, so a non-hybrid 1.6 L V6 wouldn’t necessarily require in-race refuelling, but difficult to estimate, not to mention as pointed out below, racing without refuelling was possible for V8s, so V6 shouldn’t be any different.

      1. THe point still stands that they would have to have fuel tanks that would be double the current size though @jerejj, putting to bed the fantasy that those cars could then be far lighter and smaller than the current cars because the powertrain would be smaller.

    2. Coventry Climax
      19th June 2024, 18:18

      That means that you’d need 240-100=140kg of extra fuel.
      Now take into account the total weight of all the hybrid components that you’d no longer need, and keep in mind that the cars get lighter when the fuel is burned off and becomes less. Once the fuel tanks are down to 100 kg mark, you’ve basically lost all of the weight of the hybrid stuff. These hybrid components will weigh the same at both start and finish, the fuel weight diminishes.
      Now imagine what a -say- 200 kg lighter race car means for the actual racing over the last part of a race, and what the improving changeability in speed and direction (acceleration/deceleration, cornering speeds, evasive action) means for overtaking options and tyre life.

    3. The current generation of hybrid engines are now so efficient with their 100kg of fuel, in comparison to the v10 era at Monza without refueling you’d need to start with 240kg of fuel.

      Yeah, well at the end of the turbo era engines were limited to 150L of fuel, which is 111 kg. with about 700 hp, so that doesn’t make any sense.

    4. Basically a return to ICE only would almost certainly mandate a return to refueling.

      Splendid!
      More strategic options for teams to let their computers decide on weeks before the event. Still, better than no options at all.

  6. Refuelling was banned in 2010 with V8 engines.

  7. If Trump wins in November, F1 will (probably) go back to ICE only. Otherwise, the direction of travel is clear – more and more power from electricity. There simply isn’t enough chip fat in the world for all cars to use “sustainable” fuel. And if we’re talking about solar-powered synthesis of atmospheric hydrogen and oxygen and carbon dioxide, well, great, but that’s a long way off yet.

  8. Ricki Kerr-Hunter
    19th June 2024, 13:18

    Shouldn’t the conversation be about pace? I want to see the fastest car possible, be those hybrid or combustion.

    1. The fastest cars possible = horrible racing. And you can only understand / see how astoundingly fast these cars are in person. Even if they were 5 seconds a lap faster, you’d barely notice anything on TV and only then if that speed was all in the turns.

    2. Engineering passed human capabilities decades ago. The only way have the ‘fastest’ cars possible would be with AI drivers and an enormous amount of space between the track and any spectator areas.

      1. Engineering passed human capabilities decades ago.

        Indeed, as Tombazis recently said when discussing the 2026 regulations: they could make the cars 20 seconds faster no problem.

        F1 cars are not made on a blank canvas; they’re more like a colouring book.

    3. Coventry Climax
      19th June 2024, 18:29

      The (FiA certified) land speed record is currently at 1,227.985 kmh (763.035 mph). It dates back to 1997 and was achieved running a Thrust SSC, at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA. The thing was powered by two Rolls-Royce jet engines.

      Interesting enough by itself, but it doesn’t make for interesting circuit racing -doing laps from lights out to chequered flag down- between drivers and teams.

  9. Indeed, but 2010 had teams worried about fuel at high consumption circuits. They went from circa 60kg at the start of a 2009 race (with refueling) to circa 155kg in 2010 (without).

    I’m not making a case to keep hybrid, just highlighting that it has resulted in impressive efficiency, and in 2026 they’re targeting only 70kg of fuel per race. As an example the Williams FW14b had a 230l tank!

    I don’t know how much the thermal efficiency of an f1 ICE engine has improved since 2010, and obviously it 2.4l v8 versus 1.6l turbo v6. I’d be surprised if it’s more than a few percent so compared to 2026 regs you could see the fuel load double. Add in the increased safety feature weight, the overall larger size and 80kg driver allowance and it’s hard to imagine getting back to the days of 600kg machines.

    1. My understanding is the entire powerunit system have 50% thermal efficiency.

      1. That is with the heat regenerating part that they are skipping for 2026 onwards though @Yaru. The efficiency will go down a bit with that move to closer to 40% most likely, there is just not much you can get in improvement from the ICE part after a century of development.

  10. Sustainable fuels still pollute soooo

    1. Humans pollute, soooo…..

  11. The next engine formula will go in whatever direction the manufacturer’s they are trying to appease at the time want it to be.

    The current V6 Turbo Hybrid formula came about because it’s what the manufacturer’s wanted and the 2026 formula that ditches the MGU-K are the way they are because it’s what Audi wanted & Liberty were desperate to appease them so they can say it shows how great the show is.

    To be perfectly honest i’d prefer them just to go back to a more open formula in terms of letting manufacturers run whatever configuration they want to. If some want to stick with a Hybrid then allow them to, If others want non hybrid turbo’s then let them & if others want N/A engines then let them & if they want V6/V8/V10/V12 or something else then again let them. If one format is better & everyone goes that way anyway then fine but let them come to that conclusion of their own thinking rather than forcing everyone down the same path.

    At least then there is less reason to have to constantly try to appease the manufactures as they would be free to do whatever they wanted. And it would also open up the possibility of the return of the independent engine suppliers, Something thats been sorely lacking from F1 over the past decade.

    But in the show over sport era I guess that giving any amount of freedom is seen as a big no-no as you gotta guarantee equality for the benefit of ‘the artificial show’.

    1. Coventry Climax
      19th June 2024, 18:40

      I agree with that.

      Now imagine what that would do to the F1 narrative, in terms of scrapping the nonsense and lies by Domenicali and such.

  12. Stephen Taylor
    19th June 2024, 18:05

    I don’t see that happening.

  13. Be interesting to know the volume of fuel used to move the F1 circus around the world (ships, planes, trucks, cars, etc.) versus the volume of fuel used over the F1 season by the racing cars.

    I think the question of what type of fuel, hybrid or combination is far far less then used to bring the circus to a town near you.

    Diversionary tactics?

  14. I’m not convinced there will be 2030 regulations for F1, because I’m not convinced the championship will still be active.

  15. Just talk. Won’t act on it. Should’ve scrapped the hybrids for 2026, gone full in on sustainable fuels & become the world leaders on that front & carried the industry forward. Would’ve given us much smaller, lighter, louder & cheaper cars & with some better aero regs it would’ve given much better racing without all the fake aids. Yes, F1 is a technical experiment but it’s forgetting that it’s also meant to entertain.

  16. An Sionnach
    20th June 2024, 6:01

    Why not allow engine makers to make the engines? The rules are too prescriptive. Set certain rules around fuel use and see what the designers come up with.

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