Adrian Newey’s ‘strange’ F1 2026 prediction resurfaces after huge regulation shake-up

Michelle Foster
A birds-eye view of the F1 2026 showcar released by the FIA

A birds-eye view of the F1 2026 showcar released by the FIA

Officially confirming smaller and lighter cars for F1 2026, Adrian Newey had previously called the new regulations “strange” but something every technical director would have to adapt to.

Formula 1 will introduce sweeping changes in 2026, from new engines to new cars.

Adrian Newey: Are F1 2026 rules good or are they bad?

But while the engine regulations have long been known, the sport’s bosses finally announced the new technical specifications for the cars on Thursday.

Among the key takeaways is that the cars are lighter, shorter and narrower than before – with 30 kilograms knocked off the current minimum weight, taking that down to 768kg.

The wheelbase will be 200mm shorter, down from 3600mm to 3400mm, and 100mm narrower than their current size, with the FIA aiming to make a more ‘nimble’ car.

Added to that, DRS is out with an electric boost replacing the Drag Reduction System as the new overtaking measure, very similar to the push-to-pass method used in other racing series.

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But perhaps the biggest change for the designers is the active aerodynamics that will be used for both the front and rear wings.

Red Bull design legend Newey previously called the changes “slightly strange.”

Speaking to Autosport earlier this year, he said: “At the moment, they look a slightly strange set of regulations but to then write them off and say therefore they won’t be good, it’s way too premature.

“There comes a point where always as a designer you first look at what they might be and you might then have an opinion ‘are they good or are they bad’ but at some point you have to ignore that and just get on with the challenge of it.”

His comments, though, were more to do with the engines which will have greater battery power to create a 50-50 split between the internal combustion and electric power.

Called ‘Frankenstein’ technology by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Newey said of the split: “It’s certainly going to be a strange formula in as much as the engines will be working flat-out as generators just about the whole time.

“So, the prospect of the engine working hard in the middle of Loews hairpin is going to take some getting used to.

“It is fair to say that the engine regulations were created and pushed through without very much thought to the chassis side of it.

“And that is now creating quite large problems in terms of trying to come up with a solution to work with it.

“But I think the one good thing is that it does promote efficiency. And I think anything that does that, and promotes that, has to be in line with what I said earlier: of trying to use F1 to popularise a trend.”

It remains to be seen if Newey will be around to see the F1 2026 regulations in play having announced he’ll leave Red Bull in the first quarter of 2025.

Although he has been widely linked to Ferrari, for now Newey says he’s still deciding if he wants to continue in F1.

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