F1 2026 rules: FIA announce gamechanging DRS, ERS tweaks for new-look cars

Oliver Harden
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

DRS will no be longer be used as an overtaking aid when the new-look F1 2026 are introduced, with drivers set to receive a temporary ERS boost instead. 

The FIA officially presented the rule changes for the F1 2026 cars on Thursday, with the chassis and engine regulations set to be significantly altered for the sport’s new era.

F1 2026 rules revealed

The governing body has placed an emphasis on producing so-called “nimble” cars for F1 2026, which are poised to be 30 kilograms lighter than the current models to improve efficiency, handling and promote closer racing.

In addition to widely expected changes – including the switch to 100 per cent sustainable fuels and an even power output between the internal combustion engine and the power unit’s electrical ancillaries, with the MGU-H dropped – one of the most striking alterations is related to the use of DRS following F1’s decision to embrace active aerodynamics on both the front and rear wings.

The Drag Reduction System was introduced ahead of the F1 2011 season in a bid to increase overtaking opportunities, with drivers permitted to open a small slot in the rear wing at specified zones around a lap if within one second of the car ahead.

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While DRS will remain in use, it will now be permitted at all times on the straights to help the engine’s efficiency.

Instead of using DRS to create overtaking opportunities, the car behind will receive a temporary ERS boost, dubbed a Manual Override mode.

Appearing in the presentation, the FIA’s single-seater techincal director Jan Monchaux said: “The decision was made a year or so ago – a bit less than a year – to go for what is called a nimble car, so a slightly smaller car, less downforce but with a big focus on less drag.

“The DRS in itself on the rear wing will not be used to allow or facilitate overtaking anymore.

“It will be used by default on every straight by every car to just drop your drag level on the straight, because this comes along with some strong benefits for us and energy consumption but also having a higher top speed allows you to recover more when you are braking on another straight.

“Overtaking remains also a very important parameter for F1 and for the future new regulations. It’s going to be tackled in two manners.

“The first one is continue to have a aero concept for the car which reduces the losses generated by a car which is negatively impacting the following car, because to be able to overtake you need to be close to the car ahead of you.

“And if you can’t follow in a corner because it’s generating so much dirty air that your car gets unstable and you need to pull away, then the moment you are on the straight you need to recover all that loss.

“So it’s very important for us that you can reasonably follow another car in a cornering situation and to do that we need to make sure from the aero concept – the amount of dirty air being generated – is not impacting too much the following car. That’s number one.

“So you enter the straight, a car is fairly close to the other, to help the overtaking – since now both cars will have the rear wing open and front wing flap open – we are going to allow the car behind to deploy more ERS for a given portion of time during that precise lap.

“So right now with the DRS, you are behind the car and within a second it ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS on a straight line.

“This will not be the case anymore [but] logic will be the same.

“I’m close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for one lap, which I can deploy the way I want.

“The extra amount of energy is defined and that will give a boost of energy to eventually give the following car a chance to overtake by the end of the straight.”

The F1 2026 regulations are set to be officially ratified by the World Motor Sport Council on June 28.

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