Frustrated Max Verstappen demands F1 ‘get rid of hybrid engines’

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver and reigning F1 World Champion Max Verstappen looks on from the garage during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. Styria, June 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looks on from the garage during qualifying for the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has doubled down on his criticism of F1’s planned rule changes for the 2026 season, claiming he would “definitely” get rid of the hybrid engines if he was in charge of the sport.

Verstappen spoke out against the 2026 regulations following his victory at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, declaring the new cars look “pretty terrible” from what he had seen from Red Bull’s simulations.

The reigning World Champion claimed drivers would be downshifting even while flat-out on the long straights at Monza, and spoke of his fears of F1 becoming an engine formula with a “massive development war.”

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

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Speaking to the media including at Silverstone ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, Verstappen argued the 2026 cars will likely require a counter-intuitive driving style similar to the days of blown diffusers between 2009-13, when Red Bull stormed to four consecutive titles with Sebastian Vettel.

And with such innovations as active aerodynamics potentially on the way too, he has called for competitors to put what’s best for the sport above their own ambitions.

He said: “It’s just not right, I think, that you have to drive the car like that.

“And also, the way under braking the engine just almost stays flat out, I think it will just create [a] very weird atmosphere – it’s a bit like with the blown diffusers, just being flat out almost.

“For me, it just looks very weird and also with the active aero that is regulating itself, it looks a bit odd to me. I think it’s really overcomplicating a lot of things.

“And, from the engine side, like I said already in the press conference last time, we really need to have a good look at it. But I also know that people think they will have an advantage, so they will say that the regulations are good.

“I think from my side, just looking at it as a racing driver, it looks wrong. But you always have these politics in Formula 1 where one team thinks: ‘We can take an advantage out of this.’

“They will say it’s great, but at the end of the day we really have to look into what is good for the sport and I think at the moment, with how it’s looking, I don’t think it’s good for the sport.

Asked if Verstappen’s fellow drivers share his concerns, he replied: “Yeah – I’m just not sure how many are actually fully aware of how it’s looking.”

Despite his personal dislike of the rules, Verstappen is playing an active role in Red Bull Powertrains’ preparations for 2026, when the Milton Keynes-based operation will join forces with Ford and has been encouraged by what he’s seen so far from the team.

“I think it’s a very interesting project and for me it’s also very important to know what’s going on also for my future within the team,” he explained.

“It’s all looking very promising. Of course, to go up against all these manufacturers is going to be very tough, but the signs are good, but now we have to try and deliver.

“I think we started at the right time, we are ahead of schedule but in [another] way ’26 is just around the corner.

“A lot of things still need to be done but I think we are on a good track, but because we have to keep on pushing flat out to be able to deliver a very strong engine.”

Verstappen was then asked what he would do if F1’s new rules were completely up to him – and he started by saying he would immediately drop the unloved V6 hybrid engines used in F1 since 2014. recommends

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He said: “These [current] cars are, of course, incredibly fast. Of course, I still enjoyed the 2020/21 cars – they were a bit more agile, a bit more fun, but also they were very heavy.

“I would definitely get rid of the hybrid. I think all the time, when I jump back in a V8 [car], I’m always so surprised how smooth the engine is.

“The top speed is slow compared to what we have now, but it’s just the pickup of the engine, the torque – it’s so smooth, the whole delivery process, the downshifts, the upshifts. So much more natural to what we have now.

“Of course, the safety standards have to go up and they have to improve – that’s why the cars are getting heavier and heavier, to basically make the chassis stronger, all these kinds of things, so that naturally has [an impact].

“We can’t go back to 500/550 kilos, but I think where we are at the moment is way too heavy and we need to look into that.

“Also, I think these big tires, you don’t really see a lot when you go into corners in terms of hitting an apex, so I prefer the smaller tyres – I thought [that era] was a lot more fun.

“So quite a few things I would change. I would make the cars also a lot more draggy so you don’t have to rely so much on the DRS.

“And again, with these new cars for ’26 they look like they have again a lot less drag, so it will be even harder to pass as well.”

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