Details of the next generation of Formula One cars have been released by the FIA, with the sport’s governing body promising smaller, lighter and more raceable cars in 2026.

The new regulations will see 30 kilograms shaved off the minimum weight of the cars, while also introducing active aerodynamics to reduce drag levels on straights and a new electric power boost system to replace the existing DRS overtaking aid.

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The 2026 cars will also be smaller in dimensions, with 200 millimeters taken off the length and 100mm off the width.

The 2026 rule book, which is set to be ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council on June 28, has been written around a “nimble car” concept, designed to address concerns among drivers that the current generation of cars are too large and heavy to promote good racing.

The regulations have been written to work in tandem with F1’s new engine rules, which were signed off in 2022 and will result in revised power units for 2026 with much more emphasis on electrical power.

Improvements in safety will also be made, with a new two-stage crash structure that is designed to protect the car from a second hit once it has already had an initial accident.

The changes to the regulations will result in a car that is visually different, notably with a narrower front wing and boxier rear wing — although the images provided by the FIA are just examples of what the cars might look like, with variation in design still expected once the teams reveal their versions in 2026.

As a result of broader changes to the aerodynamic regulations, including a narrower floor width, the FIA is predicting a 30 percent reduction in downforce, which will likely result in lower cornering speeds in 2026. However, a predicted 55 percent reduction in drag should mean top speeds increase significantly.

New tyres are also being developed by Pirelli that will be 25mm narrower at the front and 30mm narrower at the rear, although the plan is to make those changes with a minimal loss in grip level.

Overtaking power boost

F1 will scrap its DRS overtaking system in 2026 and replace it with a push-to-pass style boost known as Manual Override.

F1 will continue with V6 turbo hybrids in 2026, but the next generation of F1 power units will run on sustainable synthetic fuels and derive nearly three times as much power from the electrical side of the hybrid system.

The MGU-H element of the current energy recovery system, which works via the engine’s turbo on the current engines, will be scrapped.

The V6 internal combustion engine will have its power reduced by approximately 200 brake horsepower, through a combination of reduced fuel flow and a limit on turbo pressure, while the electrical part of the power unit will be able to deploy a massive 475bhp under acceleration — up from the 160bhp of the current power units — which will account for nearly 50% of the total power output.

The electric side of the power unit will also be able to double the amount of energy it can recoup under braking to recharge the battery.

With so much more electrical power on tap, the FIA has done away with DRS in its current form and substituted it with Manual Override to give a chasing car more electrical power than the one it is pursuing.

When two cars are racing, the electrical deployment of the lead car will start to taper off at 180mph and reach zero at 220mph, while the chasing car will be able to override this drop off and deploy full electrical power up to 209mph.

In the same way that the DRS on current cars offers the chasing car a straight-line speed advantage, the same should be true when using the Manual Override system.

Exact details of when and how the Manual Override will be available have not yet been published, but the FIA is confident it will be effective in promoting good racing.

“To help the overtaking, we are going to allow the car behind to deploy more electrical energy for a given portion of time during that lap,” FIA single-seater technical director Jan Monchaux said.

“So, right now with the DRS you are behind a car, within a second, that ticks a box and you are allowed to open your DRS in a straight line. This will not be the case anymore.

“However, the logic will be the same: I’m close enough to another car, I am given an extra amount of energy for that one lap, which I can deploy any way I want.

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

Active aerodynamics

Another new feature of the 2026 regulations is active aerodynamics, which will allow drivers to switch from a high-downforce setting to a low-drag setting at the touch of a button.

The concept is similar to the existing DRS overtaking aid, but the new system is targeted at efficiency rather than overtaking and will allow drivers to activate flaps in both front and rear wings.

With 50% of the engine’s power set to come from battery in 2026, there were concerns that the cars would run out of power at the end of straights and start to slow significantly before reaching a braking zone.

By having an option to reduce drag at high speeds and increase the efficiency of the car, the FIA believes this will not be an issue.

“One of the aspects of the 2026 power unit is the greater reliance on electrical energy,” the FIA’s head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville said.

“If you were to drop the 2026 power unit into a current car, given the underlying drag level, the energy required to push the car through the air is rather high, and that wouldn’t be very well aligned with the characteristics of the power unit.

“We would end up with a severe drop off in speed on the typical main straights. So, the focus for 2026 aerodynamically has been to reduce the base level of drag of the car, while trying to maintain a good level of downforce in the corners, and that’s led us towards active aerodynamics.”

The FIA has labelled the standard mode when the wings are closed as “Z-Mode” and the low-drag mode used on the straights as “X-Mode.”

The new rear wings will have three elements that open in a similar way to the current DRS, but will shed much more drag in the process. To ensure drivers do not lose control with a sudden loss of rear downforce, the front wing will feature a two-element active flap that will also shed drag and downforce from the nose in order to balance the car.

Unlike the DRS overtaking aid which is only available to drivers during races when they are within a second of the car in front, X-Mode will be an option on straights at all times and irrespective of the distances to other cars.

“X-mode is our terminology for the low drag mode and that gives you your high top-speed,” Somerville said.

“And that’s the state you’d be in when you’re on a straight or past exiting a corner.

“As you approach the braking zone, you’d then pop into Z-mode, which is where the downforce is required to get through braking and around the corner.

“So we have these two modes that would be set up in terms of zones around the lap, and the drivers would be able to switch between these two modes when permitted.

“There may be Sporting Regulations, that for example prevent use in wet conditions, but otherwise we would expect the drivers to have access to both modes around the track for every lap.”

No head starts

Aerodynamic development of the new cars is not allowed to start until Jan. 1, 2025, with the aim of preventing teams focusing all their resources on getting a head start. However, work on the chassis and mechanical side of the car will be possible as soon as the regulations are confirmed.

The FIA’s single seater director, Nikolas Tombazis, has overseen the formulation of the regulations and is confident they will result in better racing.

“A significant part of these regulations has involved thinking about the fans,” Tombazis said.

“We believe we made a step towards closer racing in 2022, but there were also things we got wrong and we’re trying to get it completely right now.

“We believe the racing will be much more exciting and much closer between cars.

“We expect cars to be still very challenging to drive, there will be a bit less downforce on the cars, there will be a few more things to look after for the drivers.

“And hopefully that, together with the closer racing, will always keep it a drivers’ championship and a big challenge for these very intelligent and talented individuals.”

Asked if the new regulations would result in a change in the competitive order, which has largely been dominated by Red Bull since the last regulation change in 2022, Tombazis added: “We don’t set out to do regulations with a pecking order in mind, we can never predict who will get it right and who will not. But when there are big changes​, and these are big changes, we do expect a bit of a reshuffle.

“We can’t predict the nature of that reshuffle but it is natural to expect one.

“This is the second set of regulations where teams will be developing a car under the cost cap. And that is an opportunity for some of the smaller teams to catch up.

“The bigger teams can’t just spend irrationally and in all possible directions. All of the teams will need to prioritise and decide on where to put the effort.”