Red Bull guru Adrian Newey previews the bleak future of F1 from 2026

Formula 1 expert anticipates “much slower” cars for the near future, which is not very exciting for fans of the competitions

Adrian Newey, the renowned designer of Red Bull, has warned that F1 cars in 2026 will be “much slower” as the sport prepares for sweeping changes to power units. Just as the 2022 season marked a change in chassis regulations, 2026 will be a year of transition for the power unit, with new rules making it cheaper and more efficient to build and operate Formula 1 engines.

The new power units of F1 will run on fully sustainable fuels and will have three times the electrical power of current motors. Expensive components, such as the MGU-H (Motor Generating Unit – Heat), have driven down costs, attracting manufacturers such as Audi, Sling and Ford to join or rejoin the sport. Despite these modifications, the cars are expected to still produce over 1,000 horsepower, but use considerably less fuel.

The dark future of F1 according to Adrian Newey

The impact of changes to F1 regulations

While the changes in regulations are certainly positive for the environment and for the pocket of the suppliers, one consequence could be that the F1 cars have already reached their maximum speed. This is precisely what Newey anticipates, suggesting that the 2026 regulations will force cars to be “quite a bit slower”.

“Everything is controlled by regulation, so if we didn’t have regulations, the cars of Formula 1 they would be ridiculous,” he said on Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast. “They would be like rockets, which from a security point of view would be a big problem.” Although the need to improve safety has prevented F1 teams and designers from creating the fastest car ever, we have gradually seen top speed increase over the years.

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What is the fastest F1 car of all time?

Keke Rosberg kept for a long time the record for the fastest average lap when he reached an average speed of 259.01 km/h at Silverstone in 1985. It wasn’t until 19 years later that Juan Pablo Montoya broke that record with a speed of 259.83 km/h during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix of 2004.

In 2018, Kimi Räikkönen set a new record with 263.586 km/h at Monza, and it was at this same circuit that Lewis Hamilton set the current fastest average speed, with 264.362 km/h in 2020, surpassing Räikkönen’s mark by just under eight tenths. As for the maximum speed reached in a race, that record belongs to Valtteri Bottas, who reached 372.5 km/h.

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