‘Big issues in place, but still sticking points’ for 2026

Jamie Woodhouse
F1 logo displayed on a gantry at the Bahrain GP. Formula 1 Sakhir March 2019.

Formula 1 logo displayed on a sponsorship gantry at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir March 2019.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says major pieces of the 2026 engine puzzle have been put in place, but there is still some way to go.

As part of Formula 1’s push towards a sustainable future, the new generation of power units are scheduled to be a huge factor.

Formula 1 is developing a fully-sustainable biofuel which will power these new engines, while also putting a greater emphasis on the electrical side although the MGU-H is set to be scrapped as part of cost-cutting measures.

Potential new manufacturers are also involved in the talks, most notably Porsche and Audi from the Volkswagen Group.

But Wolff points out such regulations, with various manufacturers involved, simply take time to be finalised.

And although progress has been made towards a final decision, there are still some kinks to iron out.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen fighting. Formula 1 Saudi Arabia December 2021
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton fighting against the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Saudi Arabia December 2021

Asked why it will take until 2026 for these new engines to be built, Wolff told Auto Motor und Sport: “The development time at an automobile manufacturer simply takes so long.

“This is a completely new engine with sustainable fuel. If you do this sensibly, it takes time.

“The big issues are in place but there are still a few sticking points that still need to be negotiated.”

On the chassis side a budget cap is already in place and another is expected to be brought in for the new engines, with cost being a current pitfall of the power units used in Formula 1 today.

Asked where he would like engine spending capped with the new units, Wolff replied: “At $70million. From the moment the new engine is ready.”

McLaren confirmed recently talks have been held with Volkswagen, although their short-to-medium term focus remains on Mercedes power.

Audi have most commonly been credited with an interest in striking a deal with McLaren, while Porsche have been heavily linked to Red Bull.

But Wolff assured Mercedes and the other established manufacturers are not afraid of Porsche and Audi, instead welcoming their interest and potential F1 involvement.

“Not at all,” was Wolff’s response to the suggestion of fear surrounding Porsche and Audi.

“It would be sensational if the two of them joined. That must also be supported.”

 

That said, Wolff stressed the current three manufacturers must be “respected” in the process of making the new engine rules.

Of course, Formula 1 actually has four – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and now Red Bull, who took over Honda’s engine following the departure of the Japanese manufacturer at the end of 2021.

“But we also wanted to make sure the three current manufacturers were respected when the rulebook was developed,” Wolff stated.

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Still a long way to go on 2026 engines

Toto Wolff has revealed there is still a long way to go before the 2026 engine puzzle is complete.