F1 2026 ‘disaster scenario’ fears addressed with DRS changes on the way

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in his pit box at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen leaves the Red Bull pit box.

FIA single seater director Nikolas Tombazis has said concerns around F1 2026 cars are “premature”, with the “disaster scenario” of how power is deployed not showing itself in reality.

Max Verstappen and Christian Horner were among those to be vocal about how the 2026 cars were taking shape, with Verstappen in particular concerned that the increased battery output and decreased internal combustion power would lead to cars needing to downshift on straights to generate power.

Tombazis has assured that this will not be the case, while adding that a solution similar to DRS is set for introduction but without wanting to make overtaking too easy.

FIA address “premature” comments on F1 2026 cars

The F1 2026 regulation changes are set to bring about a massive switch in how Formula 1 cars are constructed, with the aim of the FIA being to make the cars smaller, narrower, lighter and with a greater focus on electrical power within the hybrid power units, alongside a switch to fully sustainable fuel.

Despite initial fears that the cars would reach their top speeds too soon on straights, leading to concerns about battery deployment and how top speed would be maintained, Tombazis has clarified that there are “solutions” to that which are being found, with two full seasons still to be run before the new power units are used.

“These were comments that were probably a bit premature, because we hadn’t completed the work yet,” Tombazis said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“We never believed that was a disaster scenario, because we knew that there were solutions.

“We believe that the combination of low drag on the cars, with the way that energy can be recovered or deployed, achieves a speed profile of these cars which is very similar to the current cars.

“So the cars won’t be reaching the top speed in the middle of the straight and then degrading or anything like that. That’s not going to be the case.

“There’s some tweaks on the energy side of the engine that will achieve the correct characteristics.”

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Another aspect of the cars that was under debate was the future of the drag reduction system (DRS) that has been used for well over a decade now in Formula 1, to try and aid overtaking.

While it may not be in the same form, Tombazis confirmed that a similar aspect to the F1 2026 cars will be put in place, while wanting to maintain a degree of difficulty to overtaking and not wanting to create cars that will simply sail past each other at every opportunity.

“There will be something equivalent to the current DRS, which will basically enable the following car that is within a certain limit to potentially get in a position to attack,” he said.

“What form that mechanism will take: whether it will be an additional change of an aerodynamic component on the straight, or an additional change of the aerodynamic component in the corner, or whether it will be part of the energy of the engine….which of the three, we’re still doing our best simulations to arrive to the best possible solution.

“What we don’t want to have is cars basically diving past each other on the straight. We want cars arriving close to each other at the braking point and there being a fight, and drivers having to use their skill.

“We will never want to make it too easy, but we also don’t feel that we can say: ‘Oh, well, it’s not needed anymore’.

“We can’t risk arriving into a situation where overtaking becomes impossible again, or something like that. So we want to have it in the pocket and to use it moderately, but not highly.

“Overtaking must also be a fight. We don’t want the cars just to drive past each other.”

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