After what feels like an age since discussions began, the FIA has finally ratified the engine regulations for the next era of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, starting in 2026.
The current V6, 1.6-litre layout will remain with the same RPM levels, however the MGU-H element will be removed, while the fuel flow rate will also be reduced with an aim of a power output of around 400kW.
There will also be a lot of ‘standardisation’ and ‘simplification’ measures implemented, including the removal of variable trumpets and their actuation and control systems, as well as the extension of standardising of certain components and/or their design features. This includes the likes of injectors, knock sensors, ignition coils and some sensors such as torque, temperature and pressure sensors.
As well as these changes, the exhaust systems and ancillaries must be designed to extend to a full Power Unit life, saving teams a significant amount of money in the process.
Fully sustainable fuel will also be introduced, meaning the end of fossil fuels within Formula 1, with the futures fuels coming from either, non-food-bio derived, genuine municipal waste or sustainable carbon captures.
Formula 1 has looked to become fully carbon neutral in the not-too-distant future, and the switch to fully sustainable fuels is a big step in that direction. And engine supplies will be able to adapt their combustion areas of their power units to adapt to the new fuels.
Another change will come with regards to the Energy Recovery Systems (ERS), which will have an increased power of 350kW – an increase of around fifty per cent. They will also need to have an increased road relevance, particularly surrounding the cells, power electronics and MGU-K. It will also likely be a continued area of development for the teams as they seek an advantage over their rivals.
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has welcomed the announcement of the new engine regulations, and he believes this is the best way to move Formula 1 power units forward.
“The FIA continues to push forward on innovation and sustainability – across our entire motor sport portfolio – the 2026 Formula 1 Power Unit Regulations are the most high-profile example of that mission.
“The introduction of advanced PU technology along with synthetic sustainable fuels aligns with our objective of delivering benefits for road car users and meeting our objective of net zero carbon by 2030. Formula 1 is currently enjoying immense growth and we are confident these Regulations will build on the excitement our 2022 changes have produced.
“I want to thank all of the FIA management and technical staff involved in this process for their diligence and commitment in working together with all of our Formula 1 stakeholders to deliver this. I also want to thank our WMSC members for their consideration and approval of these regulations.”
As per FIA.com, the four key pillars of the 2026 framework are:
- Maintaining the spectacle – the 2026 Power Unit will have similar performance to the current designs, utilising high-power, high-revving V6 internal combustion engines and avoiding excessive performance differentiation to allow for improved raceability.
- Environmental sustainability – the 2026 Power Unit will include an increase in the deployment of electrical power to up to 50% and utilise a 100% sustainable fuel.
- Financial Sustainability – Financial Regulations regarding the Power Units will reduce the overall costs for competitors whilst retaining the cutting-edge technological showcase that is at the core of Formula 1.
- Attractive to new Power Unit Manufacturers – the regulations are intended to make it possible and attractive for newcomers to join the sport at a competitive level.
Currently, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Alpine (Renault) and Red Bull Powertrains have committed themselves to the next generation of power units. However, Porsche, Audi, BMW and Honda have all admitted they could be tempted to join the grid when the new regulations come into effect. Only time will tell if any of them make that jump.