Nov.23 - Toto Wolff admits that he has no clear idea what Formula 1 cars will look like in 2026.

Red Bull and Max Verstappen are utterly dominating in the new-in-2023 'ground effect' era, but the rules are changing completely for 2026.

"The engine rule has been agreed," Mercedes boss Wolff told Kronen Zeitung newspaper. "100 percent sustainable fuel, and up to 50 percent electric drive.

"That's set in stone," he said.

But that doesn't mean everything about 2026 is set in stone, Wolff insists. One uncertainty, he explained, is energy recovery.

"With the current cars, we wouldn't have enough energy to drive full throttle on the straight in Baku and Monza," he said.

"This is a huge challenge. Because we also have to develop a car that is lighter - and with a battery.

"But the car should be shorter, narrower and so aerodynamically efficient that we have the lowest possible drag on the straights without losing much downforce in the corners," Wolff added.

So what will the new-gen Formula 1 cars look like in 2026?

"I don't know whether they will be dragsters or small spaceships where the wings retract in a straight line," Wolff smiled.

"But that's exactly what makes it so exciting. And that's exactly how F1 has to be - namely, that it opens up these new paths."

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6 F1 Fan comments on “Wolff Uncertain: 2026 F1 to Usher in Radical Changes

    • ReallyOldRacer

      Yeah, let's limit our financial exposure. :) Mind you, I'm not saying RB will retain its huge design advantage, only that Mr. Newey is ahead of the curve. If the totster is correct about smaller, lighter cars that will bring some welcome design competition.

  1. Kenneth J LaBry

    The focus will likely be on electrical energy recovery which currently is kinetic. An option that has not been evaluated is using a piezo electric array on the floor of the car as well as the upper aerodynamic surfaces to generate electric charge. This is viable but the challenge would be to determine if this will add drag or significantly increase cost. Piezo electric arrays are cheap and the X-ducers can be made wafer thin thereby not adding much weight but a practical evaluation would have to be made and I don't know of any team currently even considering this.

      • Kenneth LaBry

        That is the innovation of F1. The rules do not specify what type of ERS is to be used. That is open for development by the teams. Just like they don’t specify the material that the chassis and body panels are made of. They just specify the strength requirement of the material. The rules do specify the maximum ERS per lap but not the technology used or the rate of ERS within a 1 lap window.


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