Ahead of the 2026 regulation changes, the F1 teams won’t be able to steal a march by embarking on early aerodynamic or CFD work.
F1 introduces a whole new regulation set for 2026, with sweeping chassis changes to come alongside new power unit regulations.
While the PU regulations have largely been firmed up, the technical regulations for the new cars are not yet fully solidified but, even once they are, teams won’t be allowed to switch their attention over to the new machines too early.
FIA technical regulations updated to ban aerodynamic development
At the recent F1 Commission meeting held during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, agreement was reached that teams would not be allowed to begin any wind tunnel or CFD work for the new cars until 2025.
With the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council meeting in Baku this week to ratify the changes agreed at Commission level, how this prohibition will be put in place has been revealed through the issuing of the new Sporting Regulation rulebooks.
Under the latest Sporting Regulations published for 2023 and 2024, Article 3 of Appendix 7 reveals that wind tunnel testing may only be carried out using cars that conform with the technical regulations for the 2023, ’24, and ’25 seasons.
“In order to prevent testing which aims to develop for the 2026 season, from 1/12/2023 until 1/1/2025 inclusive, RWTT [restricted wind tunnel testing] may only be carried out using a scale model that substantially complies with the 2023, 2024 or 2025 F1 technical regulations,” reads the rule.
“With the exception of dyno testing aimed to develop brake system components with minimal air ducting and provided such tests do not concurrently test (or in any way provide incidental data or knowledge on) the performance or endurance of parts or systems classified as bodywork, no wind tunnel testing may be carried out using car geometry partially or wholly compliant with and/or substantially derived from drafts and/or published versions of the 2026 F1 technical regulations or FIA proposed 2026 bodywork geometries and concepts.”
Article 4 (e) of Appendix 7 also clarifies a ban on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research for 2026.
“In order to prevent CFD simulations which aim to develop for the 2026 season, from 1/12/2023 until 1/1/2025 inclusive, RCFDs may only be carried out using geometries that substantially comply with the 2021-2025 F1 Technical Regulations,” the rule states.
Team are permitted to start development on their 2026 cars based on the technical regulation drafts currently available, but will not be able to carry out any wind tunnel or CFD testing of their ideas.
In other changes outlined in the updated Regulations, the FIA has outlined four days of car testing will be put aside for specific testing into the research of how to reduce spray in heavy rain conditions, following some initial testing of a car package during the 2023 season.