Valtteri Bottas airs ‘only worry’ over F1 2026 rules after FIA reveal new-look cars

Jamie Woodhouse
A close-up shot of Valtteri Bottas in the Monaco paddock

Sauber's Valtteri Bottas.

While Valtteri Bottas mostly likes what he sees after the FIA revealed the overhauled regulations for 2026, he has his concerns when it comes to performance.

On the eve of the Canadian Grand Prix, the hotly-anticipated F1 2026 regulations were released by the FIA, with huge changes on the horizon as the FIA works to its ‘nimble car’ concept.

Valtteri Bottas has ‘overall performance and downforce’ question mark

The lighter, shorter and narrower cars from 2026, which will be 30 kilograms lighter, will utilise active aerodynamics and an all-new ‘Manual Override Mode’ will take over from DRS as the overtaking aid among the changes.

F1 2026 will also see the introduction of new power units, featuring an equal split between electrical power and the internal combustion engine running on fully sustainable fuels.

It is an overhaul which Bottas looks upon positively, though he is wary of the “overall performance and downforce” having heard that grip levels will be significantly reduced compared to the current challengers.

“A new era of regulations is always exciting, brings opportunities to different teams. It’s nice to see a change,” he said.

“I do like that the cars are slightly smaller. Obviously, it’s a small step. But I think it’s in the right direction. Same thing with the weight. It’s a good one.

“I still haven’t in the simulator tried the new power unit settings let’s say, so I can’t really give much on that, but if it’s more total power and a bit more freedom on the energy usage in terms of the the race tactics, I think that’s positive. So for now, I don’t see any red flags.

“I would say that the only worry I have is overall performance and the downforce level. I’ve heard some rumours that it is quite a lot less grip overall, which I don’t know how much it’s going to be and I think that’s what we’re going to figure out.”

More details on the F1 2026 regulations

👉 The five key takeaways from the FIA’s major 2026 regulations overhaul

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Appearing in the presentation of the F1 2026 regulations, the FIA’s single-seater techincal director Jan Monchaux confirmed that there will be “less downforce” with these challengers, as he explained their plan to generate a closer field and more overtaking action.

He said: “The decision was made a year or so ago – a bit less than a year – to go for what is called a nimble car, so a slightly smaller car, less downforce but with a big focus on less drag.

“The DRS in itself on the rear wing will not be used to allow or facilitate overtaking anymore.

“It will be used by default on every straight by every car to just drop your drag level on the straight, because this comes along with some strong benefits for us and energy consumption but also having a higher top speed allows you to recover more when you are braking on another straight.

“Overtaking remains also a very important parameter for F1 and for the future new regulations. It’s going to be tackled in two manners.

“The first one is continue to have a aero concept for the car which reduces the losses generated by a car which is negatively impacting the following car, because to be able to overtake you need to be close to the car ahead of you.

“And if you can’t follow in a corner because it’s generating so much dirty air that your car gets unstable and you need to pull away, then the moment you are on the straight you need to recover all that loss.

“So it’s very important for us that you can reasonably follow another car in a cornering situation and to do that we need to make sure from the aero concept – the amount of dirty air being generated – is not impacting too much the following car. That’s number one.

“So you enter the straight, a car is fairly close to the other, to help the overtaking – since now both cars will have the rear wing open and front wing flap open – we are going to allow the car behind to deploy more ERS for a given portion of time during that precise lap.

“So right now with the DRS, you are behind the car and within a second it ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS on a straight line.

“This will not be the case anymore [but] logic will be the same.

“I’m close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for one lap, which I can deploy the way I want.

“The extra amount of energy is defined and that will give a boost of energy to eventually give the following car a chance to overtake by the end of the straight.”

However, Bottas does not currently see the competitiveness of the grid as an issue, arguing that making some tracks more overtaking-friendly is an issue that still needs “high focus”.

“I mean, I think the field is very close,” he said, “I think the races are interesting, so I don’t think that’s an issue.

“I think some tracks overtaking is so difficult, but that’s something that needs to be high focus still, but at least from what I’ve seen, there should be a bit more action.”

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