Mercedes team principal Toto Wollf and his Red Bull peer, Christian Horner, have exchanged more words, this time over Formula 1’s engine regulations for 2026.
Changes were decided in August 2022, but Horner has said that he and others want tweaks, with the rules meant to improve the sustainability of the sport.
Regulations will improve the electric power to be three times as powerful as current engines, with less fuel used – down from 100kg in 2020 to 70kg. A cost cap will be specified for engines, and no carbon from fossil fuels will be produced..
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Red Bull’s Horner is one principal amongst, reportedly, others who think that these regulations will not produce sufficient power for a flat out approach to a whole lap.
“I think that perhaps where we need to pay urgent attention, before it’s too late, is to look at the ratio between combustion power and electrical power,” he said.
“(We need) to ensure that we’re not creating a technical Frankenstein, which will require the chassis to compensate to such a degree with moveable aero and reduce the drag to such a level that the racing will be affected – and that there will be no tow effect and no DRS because effectively you’re running like that at all points in time.
“Plus, with the characteristics of these engines, that the combustion engine just doesn’t become a generator to recharge a battery.
“We still have two and a half years, and I think if there is a slight redress it would then create potentially a better platform for the chassis. Otherwise, the chassis regulations that are undefined yet and uncommitted, we’re going to be trying to cater for those compromises.
“You have got to look at the thing holistically from both the technical point of view, and most importantly what is F1.
“F1 needs to be wheel-to-wheel racing. We can’t afford to lose that challenge and have drivers downshifting on the straights to regenerate batteries.
“I know the FIA are taking it very seriously, and they’re looking at it very closely as the simulations become more advanced.”
Wolff said in response to the request for changes: “That’s not going to happen, zero chance, capital letters.
“So I don’t know why these things are even coming up. We’ve developed those regulations over many years with all the auto manufacturers being involved. It was a compromise that attracted Audi to finally join the sport, for Honda to stay in there – the best possible case that one could imagine for F1.
“Is it challenging? Our chassis designers are saying ‘well, how are we going to do this?’ Yeah, super (challenging). But zero, these regulations are not going to change any more, they’re not going to be postponed any more, because the world needs to show innovation around sustainability, we need to reduce emissions, and we are super excited.”
He added: “I think what frightens him more maybe is that his engine programme is not coming along and that maybe he wants to kill it that way.
“So you always have to question what’s the real motivation to say something like that.”
In turn, Horner hit back.
“Unfortunately that’s typically Toto where he’s just focused on self-performance,” he offered. “My interest is actually about the sport rather than self-gain.
“It’s still way too early to say who’s going to have a competitive or uncompetitive engine in 2026… for me the most important thing is from a sports point of view, that we all have a collective responsibility to work with the FIA and the commercial rights holder to ensure that the product is as good as it can be, otherwise we’ve all failed.
“I think the FIA is being very responsible in terms of doing its due diligence, and I think certain teams share very similar opinions to that of our own. I think they have a capable team, I think they’re aware of what the challenges are.”
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