The FIA hopes to shed F1 car weight with the 2026 regulations, their single seater director Nikolas Tombazis detailing what has been termed the ‘nimble car’ concept.
A fresh overhaul to the F1 regulations is coming for 2026, as new power units, designed with a higher focus on electrical energy and use of fully-sustainable fuels on the internal combustion engines, will power new-look challengers.
And the FIA has set key aims of reducing the size and weight of the cars, as well as trimming away downforce.
‘Nimble car’ concept coming for F1 2026
Over recent years the F1 challengers have become bigger and heavier, a trend which has not proven particularly popular with sections of the fanbase or drivers.
This should be reversed though for 2026, Tombazis revealing plans for the cars to be 40 centimetres shorter and 10cm narrower, with an ultimate weight reduction of up to 50 kilograms.
“We aim to have a significantly lower weight limit, and we are looking to reduce the weight limit by 40 to 50 kilos in 2026,” said Tombazis as per Motorsport.com.
“The way we want to do that is related to what we’ve termed the ‘nimble car’ concept, because we basically feel that in recent years the cars have become a bit too bulky and too heavy.
“This lower downforce means that a lot of the loading on components, such as suspension, will reduce and that will enable the teams to reduce the weight consequentially.
“We are tentatively aiming for wheels that are 16-inch wheel rims, with smaller wheel diameter and smaller width both front and rear. All of these things we believe are pushing towards a significantly lower weight.”
Of course less downforce generally means slower lap times, though while Tombazis argued that the performance loss should not amount to anything more than a few seconds, even if it did, he does not believe this should be of grave concern.
“It is really not a huge factor,” he insisted. “It’s going to be very close to now.
“I think we’re going to be within a couple of seconds or something like that. But even if it was five seconds slower, we’re not going to be sweating too much.”
Instead, the FIA sees most value in ensuring that the overtaking action is as strong as it can be, a key aim of the 2022 ground effect regulations having been to reduce the amount of dirty air produced by a car ahead, allowing closer following and therefore more overtaking.
Tombazis confirmed suspicions that this goal began to be compromised through F1 2023 developments, though expressed confidence that the FIA has taken the learnings needed to avoid a repeat come 2026.
“The 2023 season had a small worsening of the close racing features,” he said. “The cars had degraded a bit in their ability to follow each other closely, and we think we understand why, how and what we need to do.
“We believe that for the next round [of rules changes] we’ll achieve a much more robust close racing solution.”
Two F1 seasons remain before the new regulations come into force, Max Verstappen hoping to build on his recent campaign of record-breaking dominance with a fourth World Championship in F1 2024.