FIA set to vote through F1’s 2026 power unit rules
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 10th August, 2022 - 11:08am
The FIA World Motor Sport Council is set to vote through Formula 1’s next generation of power unit regulations.
After a drawn-out process that was initially set to be completed late last year, the vote is set to offer clarity over the sport’s technical future from 2026.
It’s an important milestone as it potentially eases open the door for new manufacturers to join the fray, with both Porsche and Audi having been given conditional approval by the Volkswagen Audi Group board.
A key point in both entering was an understanding of exactly what the new regulations looked like and ensuring they would have at least a sporting chance upon joining the competition.
Getting that balancing act right proved complicated, with the incumbent manufacturers reluctant or unwilling to cede too much ground to potentially all-new opposition.
What it has seen is the costly and complicated MGU-H dropped for 2026 and beyond, while the sport will move to full sustainable fuel with an increased focus on hybrid power.
However, it’s believed that what is set to be voted through the WMSC is notably different from what was initially tabled, with claims the rules will favour the existing manufacturers in the sport over new entrants.
It’s thought the changes set to be introduced for 2026 have been watered down to the point where there are a number of carryover components.
That represents a potentially significant cost saving over new arrivals heading into an era when a power unit cost cap is also set to be introduced.
Given the framework surrounding the power unit regulations for 2026 have changed, it’s possible that could see Porsche and Audi re-evaluate their position with regards to entering the sport.
The former has in principle agreed a deal with Red Bull to take a 50 percent stake in its senior Formula 1 team, though that has not been completed and hangs on whether Porsche finds the new regulations palatable.
Its interest, like Audi’s, is centred largely on two factors; agreement and finalisation of the 2026 power unit rules, and approval from the VAG board (which has been conditionally granted).
Audi has been linked with a buyout of Sauber, the operation which currently competes under the Alfa Romeo banner.
Speedcafe.com has heard conflicting claims that the softened power unit regulations could see the German marque baulk at joining the Formula 1 grid, with others suggesting it will make little to no difference.
Ultimately, it will come down to finance and whether the brand can rationalise the expenditure.
Costs in Formula 1 have been dramatically reduced in recent years, in large part thanks to the introduction of a cost cap, which will be extended onto the power unit side from 2026.
That offers a degree of confidence to the likes of Audi who can more or less forecast their total investment, once they take into account sponsorship incoming and prize money from the sport itself.
The WMSC, which historically does little more than rubber stamp proposed rule changes to enshrine them into the regulations, is set to vote through the 2026 power unit framework next week.