“The fears are accurate”: FIA director confirms drawbacks about some of the 2026 F1 regulations

F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews
FIA Head of Single Seater Technical Matters Nikolas Tombazis looks on in a press conference to announce the rules for the 2021 Formula One season during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas on October 31, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

FIA Single Seater Director Nikolas Tombazis confirmed the concerns surrounding the 2026 F1 chassis regulations. Speaking to media including Sportskeeda, the former Ferrari car designer claimed that the regulations had gathered a mixed reaction from teams and drivers concerning the weight and speed of the cars.

After the preview released by the FIA, various teams and drivers have expressed their concerns regarding the new F1 cars for the 2026 season and beyond. The cars are speculated to be slower and the weight reduction could be expensive in the cost cap era of the sport. Tombazis suggested that the regulations are yet to be fine-tuned and submitted to the World Council. He confirmed that there were issues raised by teams in Canada.

According to reports, there was supposed to be an emergency meeting between F1 teams, FIA, and Stefano Domenicali in Canada to address the concerns. Tombazis dismissed concerns that the cars won’t be quicker than F2 cars as suggested by Williams team principal James Vowles. He reckoned that the final regulations would be approved by the end of the year. The former car designer and FIA single-seater technical director Jan Monchaux addressed the media in Canada via teleconference to address various issues.

Asked about concerns raised by teams and drivers that the cars will not be quick enough, the F1 single-seater technical director said,

“I think the fears are accurate because people are taking a snapshot of what the regulations on a piece of paper are now and are making comments on the basis of what they see. So I don't have any concerns about these issues raised by people. But clearly, as I explained at the start, we have full expectations to make some steps up for performance. And that's exactly why we've set the bar reasonably low to start with, so we can build up on that. with the collaboration of the teams."
"And to increase the downforce of these cars is actually quite easy. It's not, you know if you have the regulator of freedom, I mean. And that's exactly the step we want to take. So I understand the comments. I don't think there's any concern that these cars will not be faster than F2 or anything like that. I think that would be 100% resolved by the time we are in the final regs.”

On the reaction surrounding the 2026 F1 chassis regulations, Tombazis said:

“Well, there's been quite a varied reaction. I mean, there's been a lot of positive reaction in terms of supporting our aims. There's clearly some concern expressed by some drivers or some teams. Let me say a few things here. I mean, first of all, these regulations are not yet approved. We are presenting them to the World Council on Tuesday in a very extensive manner – the aim being to have them approved by the World Council towards the end of the month, but that's still not the case.”
“So between, let's say, the end of the month, when these regulations will hopefully be published, and the start of 2025, when teams can start aerodynamic development – because they cannot start earlier – we do expect a reasonable amount of extra work to be done in full consultation with the teams, with FOM and everybody else, and hopefully that will then lead to some refinements that will be submitted to the World Council maybe a bit later in the year and hopefully approved.”

FIA reckons that weight reduction of new F1 cars will be challenging but not a hurdle

FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis believes that the 2026 F1 cars will be lighter as they are determined to make them more agile. One of the concerns surrounding weight reduction has been the financial difficulty of reaching the optimum weight level to make the cars quicker. Another concern was drivers weighing more than 80 kilos could be punished with the extra weight. The Greek tech expert suggested that the limit will be increased to 82 kilos. The current F1 cars have been criticized for being heavy, long, and too wide, thereby affecting their agility.

Asked about the concerns about the weight of the 2025 F1 cars, Tombazis said:

“Well, we are quite determined to reduce the weight of the cars. We've been working on a range of assumptions based on work that Jan has been doing in collaboration with the teams. And we've got a range of areas where we know the weight will go up, and we've got a range of areas where we know the weight will go down. And what we have as a target is based on a challenge but what we feel is a feasible target. Clearly, we are going to be still asking the teams for some estimates about the weight savings they can make and so on, and we are going through that process. But we are pretty determined to reduce the weight in a significant way, which is the first time this is happening, I think, in Formula 1, since probably the ‘80s or something.”

Upon being asked if the weight limit for the F1 drivers was being removed, he explained:

"No, it's not correct. The discussion has been whether the allowable weight for the driver should be 80 or 82 kilos. And the feeling was that 80 could penalize a few of the slightly heavier drivers. And we are going to be going with 82 kilos.”

The 2026 F1 car regulations will also witness DRS being removed from the cars and new modes introduced. Drivers like Max Verstappen described them to be Mario karts, while many others expressed concerns about their driveability. On the other hand, the teams were also not satisfied with the regulations and will be convening a meeting soon to discuss the possibilities of improving and tweaking the regulations in the next F1 commission meeting.

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