Jul.14 - Renault-owned Alpine has joined Mercedes in publicly backing Formula 1's controversial engine rules for 2026.

Christian Horner, in charge of Red Bull's F1 team that is producing its own engine - 'Red Bull Powertrains' - in collaboration with Ford for 2026, has sounded the alarm about problems with the rules.

He is worried about heavier batteries, a lack of overtaking because of the need to slash drag, and even 'downshifting' on the straights due to needing to preserve electrical power.

Horner has even likened the 2026 car-plus-engine package to "Frankenstein".

"We haven't gotten that far yet," Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer said. "We haven't defined the chassis regulations but I hope the cars will not be Frankensteins.

"I do remember how the current rules were defined, and everyone, including me, said it will be terrible, all the cars will look the same, it will no longer be F1.

"It didn't work out that way," he insisted. "It's hard to predict the future, especially when it comes to rules that haven't been decided yet. I hope everything works out."

While Alpine is owned by Renault, the French carmaker produces the team's Renault power units separately at Viry-Chatillon.

"I spoke to the guys from the power unit department and we want to leave it at that," Szafnauer insisted when asked about the 2026 rules and Horner's proposal to tweak them.

"I don't follow closely, I didn't participate in the negotiations, I'm not immersed in the reasons," he added. "But I asked them these questions, and we are satisfied with the version of the regulations that we have now.

"As far as I can imagine, they are unlikely to be changed."

Mercedes' Toto Wolff responded immediately to Horner's concerns by suggesting that he is probably just worried about the progress of Red Bull's engine unit.

Indeed, the specialist German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports rumours that Red Bull are "slightly behind schedule" for 2026, with "teething problems" dogging the 2026 engine.

Mercedes, meanwhile, is rumoured to already be leading the pack, with engine boss Hywel Thomas publicly not concerned about the 2026 rules.

"When we started engine development for the current regulations cycle in 2011-2012, we couldn't have imagined what was possible by 2014," he said.

Wolff commented: "We need first-class chassis rules to meet the state-of-the-art engines, but does anyone believe that Formula 1 is unable to write rules so that drivers don't have to downshift on the straights?"

Horner, though, responded: "I'm not sure how close Toto is to the engine business because he's a client. He's not technically involved in the engine division.

"I'm getting feedback from our program, which is starting to come alive and we see some limitations. It's unavoidable.

"I would say this is probably a consequence of the fact that we have made a lot of progress, so we see limitations. And we don't need big changes.

"We're not saying we need to destroy everything and start over," Horner added.

"We still have time. If we shift the distribution of power by 5 or 10 percent in favour of the combustion engine, the problems could be solved."

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10 F1 Fan comments on “Red Bull's Horner Raises Concerns: Is the 2026 F1 Car a 'Frankenstein'?

  1. smokey

    Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into!
    Sounds like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing! Too many secrets in F1 these days!

  2. Jere Jyrälä

    Old news already since his view came out on the Austrian GP weekend, but I highly doubt his prognosis becomes a reality, especially as teams don't have the latest data anyway.
    Besides, narrower-shorter car dimensions + a smaller fuel tank (because synthetic fuel allows for around 75-80 kg as the maximum permitted capacity in a race), possibly also a smaller 5-speed gearbox if that's still on the table, would decently compensate for increased battery capacity, albeit lighter batteries should be doable with matured hybrid technology anyway.
    Alternatively, shifting the ICE-electric power ratio towards the former would also minimize impact, perhaps 60-40 or 70-30 in percentage, because the current electric power amount from MGU-K/ERS is perfectly enough & should also be even without MGU-H.
    Additionally, his claim about Toto being client is inaccurate because the Mercedes team is technically a full PU works team & the same with Ferrari, Alpine under Renault Group, & Audi in the future.
    AM, Mclaren, & Williams are so-called customer as are Haas & Team Hinwill.
    Both Red Bull teams also use another manufacturer PU, only rebranded to Red Bull's name.

  3. shroppyfly

    The inference is that the cars will be a Monster calling them Frankenstein, a typical error as Frankenstein was the literary creator of the monster, not the monster itself who never had a name

  4. Kenneth J LaBry

    Battery and battery management system development will be the key with current lab scenarios getting recharge rates for automotive EV battery packs down to 4min. I suspect that for F1 competition we will see some keen advancements in battery and EV technology. Horner may also may be playing a psychological game here as he will have access to one of the most extensive EV development centers in the world. The FMC EV experimental center has existed for 15 years now and covers a very extensive campus in Dearborn. RB teaming with Ford for powerplant development may be a very advantageous strategic move and Horner may be doing a little complaining to play that down.

    • shroppyfly

      If batteries were the be all and end all Im surprised Toyota didn't jump in, esp going against Honda, those Priuses have been around for a long long time, just a thought

  5. CanadianEh

    So is it pronounced "Frank - en - stein"? Or "Fraank - en - steen" which was Gene Wilder's preferred pronunciation.

    Though Dr. Frankenstein's creation of bits-and-bobs harvested from assorted recent burials had no name, the good Doktor's surname became synonymous with the monster he created.

    So, what then shall we call The Dame - Wolfenstein?


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