Abiteboul: 2026 engines will be the next battlefield

Cyril Abiteboul

Formula 1’s next round of engine regulations are likely to require a significant rethink of the current power units, says Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Despite their mixed reception since being introduced in 2014, the current V6 turbo-hybrid engines are set to continue in F1 until at least 2025.

After that point, Abiteboul suggests the sport will have to make signficant adjustments to the engine regulations in order for them to remain attractive to teams and suppliers.

“There is probably more work to be done on the power unit side,” he explained to Autosport. “It’s good, but it’s still bloody expensive to maintain and operate these engines.

“The next step is to have a good look at what can be done in order to make sure that the next generation of power unit is a more economic sell.”

Revealing that Renault has already started to plot-out what it would like to see in the next regulations, Abiteboul suggested the next power unit needs to strike a better balance between sustainability and technology.

“I’ve mentioned one as probably the most important, the economical sustainability of the next power unit programme, because clearly the current one is very difficult.

“The next thing we need to think about is the technology involved. We see the pace at which electrification is gaining everywhere around the world, and therefore we need to think very hard about what that means for F1, what that means in the context of racing, what that means in the context of some parallel co-existence with Formula E.

“We need to think about that, as it’s the next battlefield, in my opinion.

“I think we’d like to have the big principle of the engine agreed for 2021 or 2022, so that development can start in 2023. That’s the sort of macro planning we have in mind.”

As to whether those plans would include the much-maligned MGU-H energy recovery system, the Frenchman believes it would be hard to get rid of completely.

“We have the MGU-H for the fuel efficiency of the engine. Are we prepared to say that we will lose something like 20-30% of fuel efficiency?

“I don’t see us carrying more fuel, because we already know that the cars are even heavier in 2022.

“We are talking about another 50kgs of fuel if we remove the MGU-H in order to have the same sort of energy density.

“It’s a very difficult equation. With the prospect of the cars not being lighter I think it will be difficult to remove that device if we want to get to the same level of sustainable power.

“You can have big power, for sure, but if you want to have sustainable power which is F1, it’s difficult to do without that component.”