Adrian Newey makes worrying prediction about F1 2026 cars

Sam Cooper
The start of the F1 Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023. Results

The start of the Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023.

Adrian Newey has warned that F1 cars in 2026 will be “a lot slower” as the sport prepares for sweeping power unit changes.

As the 2022 season did for chassis regulations, 2026 will herald a new era for the power unit with new rules making it cheaper and more efficient to build and run Formula 1 engines.

The new F1 power units will run on fully sustainable fuels and will also have three times the electrical power of the current iteration of engines. Expensive parts such as the MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit – Heat) and standard components have brought the cost down, enticing the likes of Audi, Honda and Ford to either join or rejoin the sport, while the cars are still set to produce over 1,000 horsepower but using considerably less fuel.

While the regulation changes are no doubt a positive for the environment as well as the wallets of the suppliers, one consequence could be that we have seen F1 cars go as fast as they ever will. That is certainly what Red Bull design guru Newey predicts, suggesting the 2026 regulations will force the cars to be “quite a lot slower.”

“It’s all controlled by regulation so if we didn’t have regulations Formula 1 cars would be ridiculous,” he told Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast. “They would be rocket ships which from a point of safety would of course be a big, big problem.

“And tyre failures because if we were allowed to develop as much downforce as we could, the tyre manufacturers have it hard enough as it is, they just wouldn’t be able to take the load.

“So it is possible that this current generation of Formula 1 cars will be the fastest for some time because the 2026 rules as proposed at the moment [mean] the cars would be quite a lot slower.” recommends

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What is the fastest F1 car of all time?

While the need for improved safety has stopped F1 teams and designers from creating the quickest car ever, we have gradually seen the top speed improve as the years have gone by.

Keke Rosberg long held the record for the fastest average lap when he clocked an average speed of 259.01km/h (160.94mph) at Silverstone in 1985. It would be 19 years until someone broke that when Juan Pablo Montoya set his own record of 259.83 km/h (161.451mph) during qualifying for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix.

14 years later and there was another new name at the top of the timesheets when Kimi Räikkönen clocked 263.586km/h (163.785mph) again at Monza and the Italian circuit would play host once more when Lewis Hamilton set the current fastest average speed.

Hamilton recorded an average of 264.362km/h (164.267mph) in 2020, beating Räikkönen’s effort by just under eight tenths.

In terms of the top speed ever hit in a race, that record belongs to Valtteri Bottas who reached 372.5km/h (231.4mph) in the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.