Newey: Monaco example shows why F1 2026 will be a ‘strange formula’

Newey: Monaco example shows why F1 2026 will be a ‘strange formula’

F1 manufacturers are currently hard at work developing their next-generation turbo hybrids, which will feature a 50/50 power split between the internal combustion engine and battery.

The nature of what is coming has opened the door to what could be unique features, as energy recovery will be prioritized.

Newey revealed that effectively turning ICEs into generators means there might even be a need for weird features, like forcing them to run at full throttle on tight corners like the Monaco hairpin.

“It will certainly be a strange formula in that the engines will run flat like generators almost all the time,” he told Autosport.

“So the prospect of the engine working hard in the middle of the Loews hairpin is going to take some getting used to.”

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Prime engine formula

The engine’s unique characteristics have sparked intrigue for some time now, as F1 bosses have to create the chassis rules around them.

And that requires active aerodynamics to help provide more downforce in the corners and then reduce drag on the straights.

Not everyone is happy with the way things were done, with world champion Max Verstappen thinking it was a mistake to first set the rules for the engine and then try to mold the car rules around them.

“I think they realized that on the engine side, everything is not as efficient as everyone thought after all,” Verstappen said in Japan of progress on the 2026 regulations.

Newey acknowledges that the situation is unusual because it has made creating chassis regulations much more difficult.

Asked about the argument that the aerodynamic rules were now just a band-aid for an engine that was not delivering all that had been hoped for, Newey replied: “I think that’s a fair comment, and probably that even the FIA ​​would recognize – that only engine manufacturers wanted this kind of 50/50 thermal engine with electric.

“I guess that’s what their marketing people said we should do and I understand that: it’s potentially interesting because F1 can be an accelerated technology developer.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“The potential problem on the battery and electric side is the current cost, certainly of F1-compliant electric motors, plus inverters and batteries. It is very high, but perhaps the production techniques of the future will help to reduce it.

“The other problem is the battery. What we need, or what the F1 regulations require from batteries in terms of power density and energy density, is quite different from what a normal road car needs. And that in itself means that the battery chemistry, and possibly its construction, is different. There is therefore a risk that this will not be directly relevant for the road.

“But maybe that’s not the key aspect anyway. The key aspect, certainly for manufacturers even if they will never admit it, is the perception of relevance in the showroom. »

Active aeroactivity, a “difficult” challenge

Newey also believes Formula 1 bosses face a “difficult” challenge in finding the right solution for active aerodynamics in 2026.

The FIA ​​is expected to finalize F1’s aerodynamic regulations for 2026 by the end of June and has spent recent weeks fine-tuning some design elements.

More work is needed on active aerodynamic elements, especially after some teams noticed alarming characteristics: the new cars were virtually impossible to drive under full acceleration when put through their paces in the simulator.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Efforts are currently being made to find a solution that provides better aerodynamic balance across the entire car, which likely means increasing the moving elements on the front wing to complement what is planned for the rear.

Asked about the challenge of getting the active aerodynamics just right, Newey said: “I think it’s going to be difficult.

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“It’s fair to say that the engine regulations were created and adopted without really thinking about the chassis side, and that now creates some pretty significant problems in terms of trying to find a solution to work with that.”

“But I think the only good thing that comes out of it is that it promotes efficiency. And I think anything that does that and promotes that has to be consistent with what I said earlier: trying to use F1 to popularize a trend. »

Verstappen himself has shown little enthusiasm for the idea of ​​active aerodynamics in F1 – as he believes cars should be simpler, not more tech-heavy.

“On the contrary, we should not get into active suspension, active aerodynamics and things like that,” said the Dutchman.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“It makes things a lot more complicated, and that’s where some teams are going to excel again, to do a better job than others. You should keep things as simple as possible.

“I don’t really see that happening at the moment with the 2026 regulations, but I might be positively surprised.”


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