Ex-F1 driver calls for two-year regulation change delay for key reason

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris leads a train of cars at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Lando Norris leads a train of cars at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

The new Formula 1 chassis and power unit regulations on their way for 2026 need to be delayed by two years, according to former racer Karun Chandhok.

The most recent overhaul to the F1 regulations came back in 2022, triggering a return to ground effect aerodynamics, though the 2026 reset represents arguably an even greater change, with the power unit regs set to be revamped too for the first time since 2014.

Karun Chandhok fears fresh field spread in F1 2026

Red Bull has dominated the F1 ground effect era so far, though there are signs in F1 2024 of rivals finally starting to eat into their buffer, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz having taken the win in Australia, where the dominant force of this F1 Max Verstappen suffered a DNF, while McLaren’s Lando Norris beat Verstappen to the win last time out in Miami.

McLaren provided Norris with a heavily-upgraded MCL38 for the Miami GP, which he put to very good use, while Ferrari are expected to unveil their SF-24 ‘2.0’ version at the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The signs of convergence are there, but now Chandhok sees a huge threat on the horizon.

And that is the 2026 reset, as Chandhok made it be known on the Sky F1 podcast that he wanted these new rules to be pushed back two years so that we can see the grid come closer together, before the fresh split which he anticipates with the new-look chassis and power unit rules.

“I feel like we’re just finally getting this point where they’re getting closer,” said Chandhok.

“Because what happens if the regulations change, the rich get richer, the teams with more money, more resources… I know we have a budget cap, but actually, they’ve got more resource at the factory and they’ve all got loopholes around the budget cap anyway, you actually get this split.

“And to me, I would have loved to have seen the regulation change pushed back two years, because we’re getting to this point now where the teams are starting to close in a bit more on Red Bull.

“Next year will be closer and then the hybrid rules are coming out for ’26. Somebody is going to get it massively right, and somebody is going to get it massively wrong.”

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Chandhok’s Sky F1 podcast co-star Natalie Pinkham had a more positive outlook on the rule change, claiming “convergence is inevitable” as ultimately “the cream rises to the top again”.

“And that is the foundations of a meritocracy,” she added.

To that point, she does not believe this process must always be a long one, pointing to the rapid progress of McLaren, who went from being at the back of the grid at the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, to winning the race a year later.

“You can have a change in fortune pretty quickly,” she said. “I mean, McLaren didn’t even get out of Q1 [in Miami] last year, they were languishing at the back and they won the race 12 months later.

“So I think that keeps us, as an audience, on our toes because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“And their big upgrades started to come in Austria last year and we just saw this massive turn and change in fortune which they were then able to build on. They didn’t kind of shimmy forwards and then back. The trajectory was a really positive one that’s carried on going.

“And so I think that could give, and should give, all the teams hope.”

Red Bull sit comfortably atop the standings heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Max Verstappen 33 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull are 52 clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’.

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