F1技术首席让“预算花在警钟”dig over Red Bull’s 2026 rules fears

Michelle Foster
Red Bul driver Sergio Perez battles with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023. Track limits

F1 technical chief Pat Symonds reckons Red Bull and Co must be spending a large part of their budgets “buying alarm bells” as they talk up “Frankenstein” fears ahead of the 2026 engine regulations.

Last August Formula 1 signed off on the 2026 engine regulations with the sport agreeing a 50/50 split between engine and battery power, enticing the likes of Audi, Ford and even Honda to sign up.

But of late there have been voices of discontent speaking out, led by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

2026 engine regulations have alarm bells ringing

Declaring Red Bull are “well advanced” in the design of their 2026 power units, he has spoken of a fear of “Frankenstein” technology with the drivers unable to race flat-out because they’ll need to recharge their batteries during the lap.

“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,” explained Horner.

While Mercedes and Renault have rubbished Horner’s concerns, Ferrari agree that if it is a case that drivers have to “lift off early or to so-and-so” then tweaks must be made.

Symonds, F1’s chief technical officer, has scoffed at that.

“Teams spend a large part of their budget on buying alarm bells,” he told Motorsport.com.

“We had exactly the same with 2022, that it won’t work, and we [the teams] have been through it all before and we know what we’re doing.

“The 2026 car in my mind is no bigger a change than the 2022 one. I would argue that it is actually a bit less aerodynamic [a jump]. Yes, it got more active components in there but there’s nothing magic about active aerodynamics. I’m quite confident.”

Red Bull and Ferrari’s concerns lie in part with the fact that F1 has yet to decide the 2026 chassis regulations, although Symonds says FIA head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville is working on those plans.

“There are some impressive drag targets but Jason and his guys are there with it,” added Symonds. “So yeah, I think we can do it.

“And the team’s alarm bells, and talking about Max who has driven it in the simulator: he hasn’t driven what’s there. I know that, because we are obviously months ahead of where they are.”

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He added: “We needed to get a set of regulations out for the engine, and put some energy management numbers in there,” he said.

“They were very immature. We knew that they wouldn’t work and we knew that they needed to be developed. And where we’ve got to in the nine months since is transformational.

“The performance profile of a 2026 car in simulation now doesn’t look terribly different to 2023.

“So all of this thing about hitting the top speed in the middle of the straight, it’s not like that anymore.

“You have to bear in mind that these cars don’t reach top speed at the end of the straight anymore; so all this thing about changing down gears on the straight simply isn’t true.”

As for concerns the next generation of cars will lose the slipstream effect, Symonds says F1 is trying to balance that versus complaints of DRS trains.

“One of the objectives, and what we’re trying to do in 2026, is to get rid of the DRS train,” he explained.

“At the moment, we’re talking about a car that has four aerodynamic states. I don’t think we’ll end up with four aerodynamic states, we will end up with two or possibly three.

“But while some of that will be through technical regulations, some of that will be through sporting regulations as well.

“The thing with the 2026 cars is that you don’t have these huge amounts of energy available that you have got at the moment.

“When we conceived the car, the idea was to have front axle recovery. The manufacturers ditched that, so that made our life really difficult. But it doesn’t make it impossible.

“So I think now we have to look at the sporting regulations and think very carefully about how you recover energy and how you deploy energy. So it won’t just be a technical exercise, it will be a sporting exercise as well.”

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