Red Bull gain surprise ally in fight with Mercedes over F1 2026 engines

Michelle Foster
Fred Vasseur and Laurent Mekies speaking with Toto Wolff. Canada June 2023

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur and Laurent Mekies speaking with Toto Wolff. Canada June 2023

As Red Bull and Mercedes lock horns over the F1 2026 engine regulations, the former has found a surprise ally in Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur.

Although Formula 1 signed off on its 2026 engine regulations last August already, agreeing a 50/50 split between internal combustion versus electrical power output, Christian Horner recently questioned whether that’s the right call.

Fearing a “technical Frankenstein”, the team boss revealed some teams – Red Bull included – want to see that tweaked as they are worried the 50/50 split may not produce enough energy for the cars to be able to run flat out for a full lap.

Red Bull and Mercedes at odds over 2026 engine rules

“F1 needs to be wheel-to-wheel racing. We can’t afford to lose that challenge and have drivers downshifting on the straights to regenerate batteries,” explained Horner.

His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff hit back, saying “that’s not going to happen, zero chance, capital letters.”

Horner and Wolff went on to accuse each other of self-interest, igniting yet another war-of-words in their ever-present rivalry.

At least one rival team boss agrees with Horner with Ferrari’s Vasseur backing up the Briton’s concerns, but, he added, before any changes are made it has to first be proven.

“First, I think the most important is to agree on what could be the speed trace [an accurate simulation of 2026 performance],” he told The Race.

“Then if we worry about the fact that we would have to lift off early or to so-and-so – to change something marginally we can change something.”

He is confident there’s still time to make the changes, saying F1 has “time to fine-tune” and that it is “not a game-changer into the development of the engine.

“It’s early enough to make a small change. And the impact on the speed of plus or minus 5% of energy coming from the ICE [internal combustion engine], is mega. But we don’t need to come back to 20% [electric, as per current rules].”

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Ferrari not in favour of front axle harvesting

It has been suggested that Formula 1 could switch to harvesting energy from the front axle, not just the rear, but that Vasseur warns will have a negative impact on the weight of the cars.

“You have positives and negatives [of every idea] and the main complaint from the paddock is the weight of the car,” he said.

“If you start to have energy recovery on the front axle with the driveshaft and so on, you are adding 30kg on the car minimum.

“We have to try to stay positive and constructive and to fine-tune the solution, more than to be negative.

“It’s always easy to say, ‘OK, it would be much better to do this’. But if you don’t have a look at the negative effect, for sure it’s much better.

“The main issue for me today is the weight of the car. For the show, to damage the tyres, and for the speed.”

With the automotive industry in favour of electrical power, Formula 1’s 2026 regulations have already seen Audi join the party along with Ford while Honda have recommitted to the sport.

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