Why Formula 1’s 2026 Engines Prevent The Cars Being Smaller

Why Formula 1's 2026 Engines Prevent The Cars Being Smaller
Why Formula 1's 2026 Engines Prevent The Cars Being Smaller

The 2026 Formula 1 regulations have caused a lot of controversy, with one of the main criticisms being that the cars still won’t be small enough.

However, as ex-VP of Siemens Motorsport Ed Bernardon explains, this is an inherent problem with electric technology…

Transcription

 So the, the Formula 1 regulations for 2026 have been spoke about a lot. They’ve been theorized and there’s been all kinds of things going around saying there’ll be this, there’ll be that. But we actually found out recently what they’re going to be. And we’ve seen a bit of a show car from the FIA as well.

The big takeaway is that they’re going to increase the amount of electrical power. So that it’s going to be a 50 50 split between combustion engine and the electric motors as well. But what they’re also doing is that they’re aiming to make the cars smaller and lighter. But some people, including myself, I’ve done a few videos about this too, think that it’s not quite bold enough, it’s not quite light or small enough, but realistically, Ed, is that the kind of, potentially the limit of what they can achieve right now, given that, you know, They’re going to need more electric motors for more electric power, and that’s going to weigh the car down.

Well, if you think about where is the weight going to be, and I think you’ve, you’re absolutely right. If you’re going to put more batteries into the car, you’re going to raise the electrical side of it. You have to be able to compensate for that weight. Now, what has to handle that weight? Maintain the stiffness in the vehicle, the strength in the vehicle, the durability in the vehicle, so that it can actually maneuver, and that’s the rest of the chassis.

So the challenge is going to be to make that chassis lighter, but still strong enough and stiff enough to handle the additional weight you’re going to get from the rest of those components. So it’s with any set of new regulations, when they first come out, That’s when the engineers have to really go to work.

And what’ll probably happen, and you saw the same thing happen in 22, is one of the teams, or a couple of the teams, are gonna come up with a really innovative way of doing that, and you’re going to get what you have with Max at Red Bull. They’re gonna be way ahead, and slowly but surely, Over time, they’re going to start to converge.

The thing that I would ask you is, Well, what is? Why smaller? Why do you want it to be smaller? Better for passing? Better accelerate? What’s, what’s your goal? Why isn’t it small enough? I mean, I think the classic example of why isn’t it small enough is that you just need to look at the Monaco Grand Prix.

It’s Nigh on impossible to overtake around a really tight track like that. And, on top of that as well, from an engineer point of view, for me, you know, the wider these cars are, the harder they’re gonna be to actually get more fuel efficient. You know, there’s a reason why, I mean, there’s obviously weight in it, of course, too, but there’s a reason why an SUV consumes more fuel than a, a little, you know, a little go around car that, that you tend to go around the city in, because it’s got a bigger profile.

And there is that too. I mean, yeah, it’s not, it’s not the most important thing, but you know, when you put it into context, Formula One cars now have a similar profile in terms of their actual footprint on the ground as a Mercedes Maybach, which is a huge car. So, So some people, because of that, they don’t look like Formula One cars, which is, unfortunately, that’s part of the product, that’s part of the sport.

I think you’re right, because if you take Formula One cars from 10 or 15 or 20 years ago and you put them side by side, there’s a big, big difference. And when you make a rule change, especially in this case, you’re making big, big changes on the power unit side. That’s going to be a lot of challenges for the engineers.

And maybe the thought is, well, okay, but if we’re going to be adding all that weight on the power unit side, we need to reduce the weight of the rest of the car. So there are going to be challenges to meet those weight constraints with that added weight. And maybe you, you can challenge engineers, but maybe there’s a limit to how much you can do it and, and still have, you know, a good competitive race.

So that’s probably playing it. But I do believe what you’re saying is absolutely true. Is maybe in the 34 regulations push even further, greater percentage, even more on the electric side, keep that engine roar and push them to do even more with light weighting and materials. So that it becomes more relevant for what could be used, say, on the commercial side.

Yeah, thanks for that, Ed. Some great information there, and a good discussion. But, guys, what do you think of the 2026 regulations? Are they going far enough? Are they going in the right direction? Let us know in the comments below, as always. And, yeah, let us know what you want me and Ed to discuss next. Ed is a former VP of Siemens Motorsports, so he’s a, he’s a very knowledgeable person when he comes.

He’s a great person to chat to, as always. And yeah, as always, you know, subscribe and follow our video channels and audio channels to see much more content just like this.

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