Formula One: What’s next?

Often referred to as the pinnacle of motorsport, F1 is a high octane exhilarating sport, where only the fastest drivers in the world can compete. Gathering more and more in popularity, particularly in the US. Even having an American Driver in the form of Logan Sargant on the grid. Albeit, his first season, and not quite going the way he himself would admit. Nevertheless, the sports’ popularity saw attendance figures for the Austin GP last year a record high of 440,000. Where does it go from here?

Engine Evolution

At present, we are in the Hybrid era of F1 engines, a 1.6 Liter v6 engine pumping out around 1,000HP. The environmental aspect and reliability factor is what drove the FIA away from the screaming V10’s. The Hybrid era has certainly been exciting, particularly the 2021 controversial Abu Dhabi season finale. One factorthe V6 is certainly lacking, the soundtrack we associated with Formula 1 of old. With the advancement in technology, we could see a return to the mighty high revving, glorious sound of the naturally aspirated V10 monster. All thanks to biofuels, these are being tested in modified engines. Biofuels are safe for the environment, emitting no toxic gasses as well as not being a fossil fuel. The 2026 season will see the introduction of 100% sustainable fuel, whilst this will likely be with the V6 engine, the anticipation of a V10 return still grips the hopes of millions of F1 fans around the world.

Ground effect on the driver

The effect this had on the current drivers was immediate, teams struggled to get to grips with the new style of car and caused friction up and down the paddock. An iconic image of physical stress this new ground effect flooring was 7 times world champion being helped out of the car at the end after a 2-hour full throttle race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The drivers’ heads bobbing up and down furiously on the straights, this phenomena is coined ‘porpoising’, caused by the air stalling underneath the car when it’s sucked to the ground on the straights underneath the new ground effect chassis. Due to this force being exerted on the lower back of the drivers, many of the teams consulted with injury lawyers on what the best course of action would be. Some teams managed to get on top of the issue, in particular Redbull, who ultimately went on to be the runaway winners of the season. The start of the 2023 season saw every car on top of the porpoising issues. Ground effect will continue to be developed and play a pivotal role in the future of F1.

Full Grid

For the last 20 years or so, there have been 10 teams on the grid, 20 drivers. This could change very soon.Andretti Autosport, have submitted an application to the FIA to be considered for the 2026 season. There is a potential to be involved in the sport earlier with rumors of a partnership forming between Andretti and Alpine, this is just speculation at this stage, we’ll wait for. Audi have reached an agreement with Sauber again for the 2026 season, who currently run under the Alfa Romeo brand. It’s not clear if Alfa Romeo will continue in the sport after the 2026 season. They still have a partnership with Ferrari for power units, until then. All fans are eagerly waiting on news for the future of the Italian based outfit.

New Regulations

Major regulation changes will be happening in 2026. What those are we don’t know yet, what we do know is the already previously mentioned 100% synthetic fuel will be introduced. We also know there will be increased electrical power usage from a 120kW motor to a 350kW motor. Furthermore, the removal of the MGU-H will be enforced. This is the element that allows recovery of energy, drivers use this as a means to help make it a little more difficult for a car to overtake using the DRS (Drag Reduction System). Back to the fuel, current regulations state 100Kgs is the allocated allowance, this will be reduced to 70kgs from the 2026 season, the engines will be more efficient, and the overall weight of the car will be reduced, however it will still play it’s part in the technical design of the car.

Conclusion

Overall the combination of the aforementioned areas of improvement will ultimately lead to an incredibly exciting future for formula one. With a vastly growing audience, the FIA are continuing to look at ways to improve the sport. The future looks bright, full of change, and not to mention the exciting young drivers coming through the ranks from the formula 2 series, it’s unfortunate there are limited spots in F1, however, with new teams, it gives more opportunity for future talent. It’s a fascinating sport and well worth the effort to watch. Much of the technology we see in today’s road cars started their life from F1 car development, which is also an exciting glimpse into the future of not just motorsport today, but the cars of the future.