Formula 1 engines in 2026 with overtaking aid and special rules for high-speed tracks

The FIA ​​will publish the technical regulations for Formula 1 from 2026 onwards by June 30th at the latest. The regulatory framework for the next generation of Formula 1 cars must be in place by then. Active aerodynamics, lighter cars and narrower cars and tires are expected. On the engine side, the regulations for 2026 have been in place for almost two years, but there have recently been some interesting changes.

The latest version of the Power Unit regulations features the overtaking aid known as ‘Override Mode’ and a special clause for race tracks that require particularly high-speed driving. The last point is also a response to the harsh criticism that came from Red Bull and Max Verstappen in particular.

After initial tests in the simulator, the world champion complained that the speed profiles did not feel like racing. He would have had to downshift on the start and finish straights in Monza to achieve the optimal lap time – because this allows the battery to be charged particularly efficiently in terms of lap time.

Red Bull therefore wanted to negotiate a higher fuel flow in order to put more focus on the combustion engine. However, the FIA ​​and the other engine manufacturers wanted to stick to the original plan, which included around 400 kilowatt combustion engines and 350 kilowatt electric motors.

New F1 cars in 2026: Will they force Max Verstappen to retire? (17:55 min.)

Nevertheless, the FIA ​​was aware of the problem: for some tracks, there is simply not enough electrical energy to achieve speed profiles that are common in motorsport. The drivers will have to push themselves to the limit in 2026 as well. On the one hand, the chassis regulations are intended to achieve speed profiles typical of Formula 1. Less air resistance means less energy is needed for consistently high speeds on the straights. But that alone is not enough.

Special engine rules for special routes

“We want to ensure that on tracks with very long straights, the power is used a little more evenly over the straights and not all of it is used up at the beginning,” explained FIA technical director Nikolas Tombazis in an interview with

The energy is released at the start of straights in a lap time-optimized manner. The problem: Because the battery capacity remains at 4 megajoules – with almost tripled electric power – and the amount of recuperated energy is limited, the energy is not enough for a permanent electric boost. The phenomenon feared by Max Verstappen could occur, especially on high-speed tracks.

That is why several measures were included in version 6 of the engine regulations. This means that there is no longer such an extreme need to counteract the chassis. An important part of the measures is a special clause for high-speed tracks.

Slower decline in performance in Spa, Monza and Co.

On tracks where full throttle is driven for more than 3,500 meters, different rules apply than on ‘normal’ race tracks. The electric power of the MGU-K cannot be reduced as quickly on the high-speed tracks as usual. The electric thrust can be reduced by a maximum of 50 kilowatts per second. On all other tracks, the electric thrust can be reduced by up to 100 kilowatts per second.

With a maximum boost of 350 kilowatts, it takes at least seven seconds at full throttle until the MGU-K can no longer push any extra power onto the crankshaft on high-speed routes. This should result in the power being delivered more evenly over the straights and the top speed not being reached in the middle of the straight.

How exactly the full-throttle portion is determined and defined in advance, i.e. which tracks are affected by the special rule, is still being defined in more detail. At the moment, Jeddah, Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Baku and Las Vegas could be affected. These are tracks that have long laps on the one hand, and many long full-throttle passages on the other.

For this purpose, the maximum charging power for the battery was limited to 100 kilowatts as long as the combustion engine is delivering power. This is to prevent too much petrol from being burned to charge the battery, i.e. the power unit is used as a serial hybrid. The maximum charging power during braking remains at 350 kilowatts.

No electric power at Formula 1 top speed

The regulators have also made changes to the power output in order to control the speed profiles. “We also want to ensure that we don’t have insanely high speeds on some routes. We now have that under control,” said Tombazis.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) at the Formula 1 race in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) followed by Lando Norris (McLaren).
Full-throttle circuits like Jeddah are a challenge for the future of Formula 1, Photo: LAT Images

From 290 to 340 kilometers per hour, the permitted electric power decreases linearly with speed from 350 to 100 kilowatts. From 340 to 345 kilometers per hour, the maximum e-boost decreases linearly again from 100 to 0 kilowatts; at higher speeds, the combustion engine has to do the work alone.

Override mode the engine’s DRS

However, there is one major exception to this: the so-called ‘override’ mode. This should not be confused with the ‘overtake’ mode, which is already available. With this overtaking mode, pilots can already activate the power unit when they urgently need power. This allows them to drain the battery, but they are not allowed to use more than the 120 kilowatts that are already applicable from the MGU-K.

Each team can configure the Overtake mode individually, and it can be used whenever the driver presses the corresponding button – as long as there is energy available. This will remain the case in 2026. In addition, there is the Override mode to help with overtaking.

When exactly, how often and for how long the mode can be used has not yet been determined. This must be regulated by the sporting regulations. Similar specifications to DRS or a certain number of time intervals per race are conceivable. The technical parameters are already in place, however: In override mode, more electric power can be used at high speeds. In this mode, the maximum power of the MGU-K drops linearly from 350 kilowatts to 0 between 337.5 and 355 kilometers per hour.

Overtaking aid recuperation

But that’s not all the help you need to overtake: in the current version, the amount of energy allowed for recuperation has been reduced. Instead of 9 megajoules, only 8.5 megajoules per lap can be fed into the battery by the MGU-K. On some race tracks, where the amount of energy can hardly be achieved through recuperation, the limit is even reduced to 8 megajoules.

This leaves a little room for improvement. Under certain circumstances – which also still need to be defined more precisely – half a megajoule more can be recuperated as an additional overtaking aid. This means that not only more power, but also more energy is available for duels.

A more detailed article on the 2026 Formula 1 engines can be found in the current print edition – which is already sold out, however. To avoid missing out again, it is best to order today Pre-order issue number 97 here!

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