The FIA is aiming to achieve a 50-kilogram weight reduction with the F1 2026 cars when the sport’s next major rule change comes into effect.
The weight of F1 cars has ballooned over the last decade with the introduction of V6 hybrid power units, larger wheels and new safety measures including the Halo.
This has led to complaints from drivers, who argue that the experience behind the wheel has changed for the worse if modern cars lazier in slower corners.
F1 2026 cars set to be smaller and lighter
While the main focus of the 2026 regulation change surrounds the engine, which will deliver more hybrid power and be run on fully sustainable fuels, the chassis is also set to be subject to significant revisions with innovations such as active aerodynamics set to arrive.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Nikolas Tombazis – the FIA’s head of single seaters, who had a key influence on the formation of F1’s 2022 rule changes, which were implemented with the primary aim of making overtaking easier – believes a 50kg reduction in weight is possible in 2026.
And he predicts that the next-gen cars will be faster on the straights but slower in the corners, with the hybrid system making a greater contribution to the overall lap time.
He said: “With the dimensions of the wheels, which will be narrower, plus with the rear wing and the car in general, we aim to reduce the weight of the cars by around 50kg.
“So, it will be possible to see smaller single-seater cars: shorter and narrower. But we are talking about solutions that still need to be discussed.
“With the car on a diet, we will be able to reduce the cornering speeds a bit. Being lighter, they will go faster in a straight line, but will generate less aerodynamic load.
“So we will need to increase the hybrid’s energy recovery to ensure adequate lap performance.
“A lot of work has been done to understand how energy recovery and management will have to be done, and how overtaking can be done based on the aerodynamic configuration.
“We have carried out many simulations by changing these parameters and we have found solutions that seem to work adequately.”
Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen made his dislike of the 2026 rule changes clear ahead of July’s British Grand Prix, telling media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper of his belief that the regulations risk taking F1 in the wrong direction.
Verstappen also expressed fears that drivers will be forced into a counterintuitive driving style with the 2026 engines, requiring downshifts even on the longest straights as a means of charging the hybrid systems.
However, Tombazis, a former McLaren and Ferrari engineer, feels such a stance is already outdated, stressing that the 2026 engine and chassis regulations must be viewed as a full package.
He said: “If one took the 2026 power units and mounted them on the current cars, probably the result would be the scenario put forward by those who were worried.
“But in recent months, we have collected a series of very positive developments, so the comments express old positions.
“We also need to take into account that the engine and chassis will have to evolve together, and it will not be possible to think of one without the other.”