FIA responds to criticism of Formula 1 rules 2026: Deliberate hasty decision

After the FIA ​​presented the F1 regulations for Formula 1 cars from 2026 on Thursday, there was a hail of heavy criticism. Drivers and especially team bosses did not agree with the rules for several reasons. On Saturday, the FIA ​​responded in a press conference. FIA Formula 1 boss Nikolas Tombazis and technical director Jan Monchaux answered questions from journalists in Canada. has summarized the most important points.

Are the rules poorly thought out?

The team bosses agreed that the rules presented are still a long way from being final regulations. While the public has only received the framework so far, the teams already have a complete set of regulations. Nevertheless, the FIA ​​knows that the teams’ concerns are justified. “It’s only a first step, it’s not final yet,” reassures Tombazis. “Many things still need to be adjusted, and we are fully aware of that. We know about the problems with downforce and top speeds.”

Why are unfinished rules being adopted?

Although the rules are clearly not where everyone wants them to be, they will be presented to the FIA ​​World Motor Sport Council next week. The WMSC is also expected to confirm the rules at the end of the month, and the complete regulations will then be made available to the public. Until then, however, there will be no major changes. But why would anyone knowingly adopt half-baked rules? The matter is a little more complicated and has to do with the rule-making process.

According to the International Sporting Code – the basic law of motorsport – the FIA ​​must announce major rule changes by June 30th at the latest, one and a half years before the calendar year of the motorsport season in question. Until this point, the FIA ​​can determine the rules without Formula 1 and the teams having a say. After the deadline, the rule-making process set out in the Concorde Agreement must be used for changes. That is why the FIA ​​is determined to push through the rules by the end of June.

Jan Monchaux recently wore team clothing himself, Photo: LAT Images
Jan Monchaux recently wore team clothing himself, Photo: LAT Images

The FIA ​​has deliberately tightened the screws in its version. “The teams are always reluctant to make major changes,” says Monchaux, who recently switched sides and came to the FIA ​​from Sauber. So the FIA ​​set the tone for the major changes. But it won’t stop there. “This version is the most restrictive that the teams will see,” promises Monchaux. “It’s easier to make the regulations more open than the other way around.” It’s easier to find the necessary majorities when the regulations are opened up than when there are restrictions.

Are the cars getting too slow?

After the publication, some people were already talking about Formula 2 level. Tombazis admits that the fears are currently justified – but only for the moment. “We have only set the bar low and can raise it higher,” he explains. “It is relatively easy to increase the downforce, and that is exactly what we will do. I think the problem will be 100 percent solved in the final regulations.” As with the freedoms, the FIA ​​assumes that the necessary majorities are easier to find for more downforce than for less downforce.

Are the cars becoming too dangerous on the straights?

George Russell has already expressed safety concerns. The low air resistance on the straights means that speeds are too high, while the low downforce makes it difficult to control the cars. “Yes, the top speed is currently increasing, but we are aware of that,” replied Monchaux. “We will ensure that the top speed does not reach a level where it becomes a safety risk. We do not want to take absurd risks and see cars traveling at 380 km/h in Monaco.”

The decreasing MGU-K performance at high speeds has already been counteracted in the engine regulations. It is also possible to intervene on the racetracks by not allowing X-Mode in certain places. The X-Mode itself can also be restricted by limiting freedom of movement.

By when should the rules be final?

Work in progress was the motto at the FIA ​​press conference. But when should the rules be finalized? “We expect that a lot of work will be done on the rules between now and the beginning of 2025,” said Tombazis. Until then, the teams are not allowed to develop the aerodynamics for 2026 anyway. The sporting regulations only allow CFD and wind tunnel work on the 2026 cars at the beginning of the year – by then the regulations should already provide a good basis.

Why were the unfinished rules presented publicly?

The FIA ​​knows how Formula 1 works. “We wanted to inform the media because we didn’t want them to hear it from the teams. We wanted the media to have the whole picture,” explains Tombazis. If the information hadn’t been made public, the teams would have complained to the media in the background. Then there would have only been negative stories about the 2026 Formula 1 rules.

Are there any changes to the engine regulations?

Possibly, but changes on this side are much less likely. The rules have been in place here since mid-2022, and the manufacturers have already done a lot of development work. Changes must also be supported by the manufacturers; the FIA ​​can no longer decide on its own here – as it did on the chassis side until June 30. “Normally, there is good cooperation among the engine manufacturers. If a few changes were necessary, I am pretty confident that the manufacturers would not object,” believes Tombazis.

Engine manufacturers will no longer accept major changes, Photo: Mercedes/Honda/Renault
Engine manufacturers will no longer accept major changes, Photo: Mercedes/Honda/Renault

However, major changes to the hardware of the F1 engines are unlikely. Even though the almost equal distribution between combustion engines and electric motors is increasingly emerging as a fundamental problem with the chassis rules, there are no plans to change anything in this regard. Instead, there could be adjustments to the energy management.

Why is there a dispute about the minimum weight?

The weight of the Formula 1 cars was a big topic after the rules were published. Williams in particular criticized that the minimum weight was almost impossible to achieve. The cars are to be 30 kilograms lighter, although the power units are getting heavier. “The weight is based on some assumptions that Jan [Monchaux] in collaboration with the teams. There are areas where the weight will increase and others where the weight will decrease. The target (768 kilograms) is based on that. It is challenging but we think it is doable,” defends Tombazis.

There is also confusion about whether there will continue to be a minimum weight for drivers. Some in the paddock thought that this passage had been removed from the regulations. “That is not correct,” Tombazis clarifies, explaining: “There were discussions about whether the minimum driver weight should be raised from 80 to 82 kilograms.” Currently, the driver, driver equipment and seat together must weigh at least 80 kilograms. Lighter drivers have additional weights in the seat. The regulations currently stipulate 82 kilograms for 2026.

Here is a video summarizing the known innovations for 2026:

F1 rules 2026 revealed: This is what the future of Formula 1 looks like! (16:24 min.)

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