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fia f1 2026

FIA Presser: Tombazis and Monchaux explain 2026 F1 rules

fia f1 2026

Earlier this week the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) released details of the 2026 Formula 1 cars, to kick-start the sport’s new era, provoking mixed reactions from drivers, teams and pundits alike.

The 2026 F1 rules regulating next-gen cars in the top flight have been praised by some while not convincing others, including seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

FIA technical representatives Nikolas Tombazis (FIA Single Seater Director) and Jan Monchaux (FIA Single Seater Technical Director) faced media in Montreal. This is the transcript from the press conference today.

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Q: Nikolas, perhaps we could start with you with a brief overview of the aims of these new FIA compiled F1 rules.
Nikolas Tombazis: Well, good morning, everybody. The aims have been in the making for some time. We’ve already discussed the ones for the power unit, which are related to, of course, a greater level of sustainability, fully sustainable fuel, and also an increase of the electrical component, as well as some simplification in order to be able to have new manufacturers joining the sport. So these were already approved a long time ago. On the other hand, extending those aims to the chassis, we want to, of course, have exciting racing. We believe we have had some deterioration of racing as of late. The aims of 2022 of having close racing have deteriorated and cars can’t follow each other as closely as we would have liked. We are planning to fix that. And so exciting racing is an important one. We want the cars to be more efficient. We do want the cars to be what we call a bit more nimble. We’ve been working hard on the weight. and reducing a bit of dimensions, so reversing the trend over the last, I don’t know how many, almost decades, I would say. And that has been another important aim for that.

Q: And what kind of reaction have you had since the announcement?
NT: Well, there’s been quite a varied reaction. I mean, there’s been a lot of positive reaction in terms of supporting our aims. There’s clearly some concern expressed by some drivers or some teams. Let me say a few things here. I mean, first of all, these regulations are not yet approved. We are presenting them to the World Council on Tuesday in a very extensive manner – the aim being to have them approved by the World Council towards the end of the month, but that’s still not the case. Additionally, I would say that we clearly wanted to share these things with the media early because we didn’t want things to leak from teams, we just wanted the media to get the full picture early on. But finally, the most important of all, I would say, the World Council discussion and hopefully the approval is the first step. We’re not in the final set of regulations yet. We do have quite a few things that we need to define and discuss with the teams. We are fully conscious of some of the concerns of, I don’t know, level of downforce of the cars or straight line speed, and these are things that we class as the refinements that still need to take place. So between, let’s say, the end of the month, when these regulations will hopefully be published, and the start of 2025, when teams can start aerodynamic development – because they cannot start earlier – we do expect a reasonable amount of extra work to be done in full consultation with the teams, with FOM and everybody else, and hopefully that will then lead to some refinements that will be submitted to the World Council maybe a bit later in the year and hopefully approved.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) There have been some question marks about the performance of the cars and the challenges therein. You talked about, obviously, the fact the chassis regulations are still evolving, but is there potential for the power unit regulations to be tweaked in terms of the power regime and all that kind of thing in order to help achieve those targets? Or as far as FIA are concerned, are the power unit regulations locked and that’s not going to move?
NT: Well, there’s a slightly different position in terms of governance in the power unit, because we are already under governance agreement in relation to the power unit regulations, which means that any tweaks that may be necessary will still need to be agreed with the power unit manufacturers and cannot be done, let’s say, unilaterally. But because there’s, generally speaking, a very good spirit of collaboration, if there are some tweaks needed, I’m quite confident that PU manufacturers would help and be collaborative here.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Nikolas, a couple of concerns raised were about the performance of the cars relative to other categories, particularly Formula 2. James Vowles said yesterday it might only be a few seconds quicker than F2. Have you got a target pace in mind for these new regulations? And do you think those fears about the ballpark figure for how quick these cars will be are correct?
NT: I think the fears are accurate, because people are taking a snapshot of what the regulations on a piece of paper are now and are making comments on the basis of what they see. So I don’t have any concern about these issues raised by people. But clearly, as I explained at the start, we have full expectation to make some steps up for performance. And that’s exactly why we’ve set the bar reasonably low to start with, so we can build up on that. with the collaboration of the teams. And to increase the downforce of these cars is actually quite easy. It’s not, you know, if you have the regulator of freedom, I mean. And that’s exactly the step we want to take. So I understand the comments. I don’t think there’s any concern these cars will be not faster than F2 or anything like that. I think that would be 100% resolved by the time we are in the final regs.

Q: (Albert Fabregas – ESPN LATAM) I’m sure you have been working together with the teams to define this draft of the regulations. Did they already express these concerns on all this process until we arrive here?
Jan MONCHAUX: Yeah. Good morning everyone. So we are still in discussion and we are always in discussion with the teams. They have expressed concerns for sure. Typically, teams are always a bit reluctant at implementing large changes. So it’s a bit of an ongoing compromise that needs to constantly be found. As Nikolas said, the approach we had, since we needed to respect the framework in terms of date of publication, the regulation as has been presented now and which hopefully will be voted is probably the most restrictive teams will be seeing, because we think also it’s going to be far easier in the next months to start increasing the freedom and review some aspects of the regulation which potentially currently are far too constrained than the other way around, because they will all agree on having more freedom. If we had gone the other way around and effectively, let’s say, have something like providing a lot of freedom in their ability to design the cars, we would potentially realise in October or November on that one, we don’t necessarily want because it might put at risk some of the targets we want to achieve with these new regs. So it’s simply the approach we think is more reasonable, to effectively, now, step-by-step, since we have, I think, a solid basis to start discussion, to review some areas where for the moment we offer little or no freedom, if we convince ourselves with the support of the active support of the team to potentially, to say okay In this area, you can do more. It’s OK for us. You have more freedom because we are convinced, through work that we’ll have to do, that it’s not going to put at risk all the high-level objectives Nikolas mentioned, the nimble car, which comes with reduction of weight, which comes with some reduction of downforce. And I think the process like this will be working because it’s pretty much straightforward because it will always say yes for more freedom.

Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) Two questions on the weight issue. First, how fixed are you on that weight target you’ve got? Because I think Williams have said that it’s going to be impossible for any team to reach it and will end up being very expensive as teams chase marginal gains to get down there. And second, is it correct that the 80 kilo allowance for drivers has been taken out of the regulation? Someone suggested that, and if so, why has that happened?
NT: Well, we are quite determined to reduce the weight of the cars. We’ve been working on a range of assumptions based on work that Jan has been doing in collaboration with the teams. And we’ve got a range of areas where we know weight will go up, and we’ve got a range of areas where we know weight will go down. And what we have as a target is based on a challenging but what we feel is feasible target. Clearly, we are going to be still asking teams for some estimates about the weight savings they can make and so on, and we are going through that process. But we are pretty determined to reduce the weight in a significant way, which is the first time this is happening, I think, in Formula 1 since probably the ‘80s or something. On your second question, no, it’s not correct. The discussion has been whether the allowable weight for the driver should be 80 or 82 kilos. And the feeling was that 80 could penalise a few of the slightly heavier drivers. And we are going to be going to 82 kilos.

Q: (Filip Cleeren – Motorsport.com) Obviously, the tyres are going to be made narrower as well to help save weight, but what is the impact going to be on things like mechanical grip, and how does that work in conjunction with the lower downforce levels in terms of trying to help improve the racing?
JM: In general, the reduction that has been done on the tyres, mainly in width, as you rightly mentioned, has been discussed with Pirelli and also backed by some simulation work to make sure the tyres will not… We don’t want the tyres to be a source of concern early 2026 and with these new PUs, which will have, for the moment or at least on the paper, especially in the traction phase, a massive amount of power, we simply were a little bit nervous that going much smaller, at some point there was discussion to go to 16-inch, could lead to some overheating issues, which then would become the only topic people and teams discuss about the start of ‘26. So the reduction on the tyres is certainly less than we would have all hoped at some point. But as I mentioned, we didn’t want too a big departure, if you want, from the known product, which currently we have and we are fairly happy with. We’ve got already enough changes, if you want, through the power unit, the chassis, and also the aero regs, that taking another eventual risk there, we didn’t feel was the right choice to do so. Hoping it answers your question, we are not expecting significant difference in those changes being done on the tires with respect to general mechanical grip and grip. It might be a slight reduction because the tyres are smaller. But it’s not a departure which is a source of real concern for us.
NT: I would also add one more thing – that we are giving Pirelli, together with the teams, Increased opportunities to do their testing and development programme throughout the remaining part of 2024 and I think the first test will be in September and throughout 2025. So we are giving them maximum time to develop as much as possible in order to have as suitable a tyres as possible for this new formula.

Q: (Nigel Chiu – Sky Sports) We’re expecting to see much higher top speeds and lower cornering speeds from 2026. Can you just kind of explain how much closer you think the cars will be able to follow? And will the slipstream effect be different as well?
JM: So, as of today, yes, the top speed might be slightly higher than the top speed we currently have, but also there, because we’ve heard about some concerns, it is something we are aware of and we will make sure, and that is a very important message, we will make sure that the top speed are not reaching levels which would be a safety concern. and we have the means to do that. We can impact on the low-drag configuration, which is opening the rear wing and the front wing, by either forbidding it on given straight or reducing how much you can open, we will have a mean to control the top speed. And similarly, we see the deployment of electrical energy, we have provision if needed to readjust where we feel is necessary to make sure the achieved, in reality, top speed would be fairly similar to the actual ones. We’re not interested in taking absurd risks and having cars going down the straight line in Monaco with 380 kph. This is nonsense and it will not happen. if we wouldn’t take any action the risk would be there but we are aware of it and we’ll make sure once the cars are more mature, that the level of simulation from the teams is also more mature, that the necessary amendments and tweaks will be done to ensure that it’s comparable to what we currently have, plus or minus, I don’t know, 5 kph or so. With respect to the cornering speed, if we are talking about a nimble car and slightly less downforce, it is to be expected that the cornering speed will be slower than the actual cars, which have an unprecedented level of downforce and which we, back in the day, with the teams, all agreed. If we were to go to a nimble car, which means agile, we wanted to also reduce the downforce so the cornering speed will be lower. What the teams have seen for the moment is a car with, I can’t remember, 35 or 40% less downforce – don’t quote me exactly on the number – but as Nikolas said, over the next months, we are, once teams will have done more simulation, refined their understanding of the regs and have maybe a more mature layout of their own car, we will be discussing with them what is an adequate level of downforce, which might be a couple of percent higher than what we currently pitch the regs at. And that should be also fairly easy to achieve through simple means on the regs, on the floor to give, I don’t know, 10, 20, 25, 30 points downforce more than currently we were encompassing. We’ll nonetheless try to have a sort of ceiling, but it’s certainly going to be a bit higher than it’s now in the regs, but clearly lower than the actual car. So unfortunately, the cornering speed will be a bit slower. There’s no magic.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Another concern that was raised yesterday was the complexity of some of the new regulations, particularly for fans. We’ve got X-Mode, Z-Mode, Manual Override. Are you worried about sort of all of these new terms coming into the regulations? Is it kind of an inevitability when you do a rule rewrite? And are you looking at refining that to maybe simplify a little bit in these talks coming up?
JM: When you see the speed at which kids nowadays are handling their iPhone or mobile phone, I think we should be cautious to say it’s going to be too complex for them to understand. I mean, we are talking about an X-Mode, which is a low-drag, which is just the DRS, and in addition, the front wings that will open in the same time. And that’s the only thing that will be active. The Z-Mode is a standard configuration, so it’s not really a mode. It’s a normal state of the car. There is one active mode and this override, which Nikolas will certainly explain better.

NT: Yeah, I don’t think I would have used the kid example, but that’s a very good one indeed! I confirm what Jan said, and in reality, The X-Mode and the Z-Mode are really parts of the normal running of the car. Then the elements to assist getting close to the front car, the equivalent of the current DRS, will be handled by the electrical power. I think it’s a smidgen more complicated than what we have now. I don’t think it is rocket science. And clearly, we will need to explain it adequately to everybody so people understand what they’re seeing. But I don’t think it is really that complicated.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for both. This is about sustainable fuels. First of all, with the switch to 100% sustainable, how do you monitor what the teams are actually using is from a sustainable product? And secondly, with the internal combustion engine regulations quite prescriptive with the amount of power you want, are you going to be kind of monitoring and banning certain chemicals and certain additives as well?
NT: Perhaps I can take this one because Jan wasn’t yet with FIA when all of this discussion took place. There will be some independent checking about the exact source of the various components of the fuel, and there will have to be a certification for the fuels used by the fuel suppliers in order to make sure they have a generally sustainable source. So that is a process that would be happening upstream from a Grand Prix. Clearly, then, as we currently do, we check the chemical composition that is used when we take fuel samples and make sure it is accurate in relation to the homologated fuel. On the other question you asked, we do have regulations on the power unit. We will be measuring performance, because we always want to know roughly where we are. And I think the fuel regulations are quite restrictive in some ways, because they are trying to achieve fuel that has some relevance to road fuels and isn’t some complete outlier. I think that is work that has happened upstream. If there were to be any changes in the future, they would have to go through governance. But I don’t predict that would be necessary.

Q: (Adam Cooper – Adam Cooper F1) Two questions for Nik. Firstly, with everything you know now and everything that’s going on with these discussions, is there anything FIA would have done differently when you fixed the power unit rigs a couple of years ago? And secondly, you mentioned FOM earlier. Obviously, Pat Symonds played quite a big role in formulating these regulations. He’s very close to the guys that used to work for him, now work for you. Has his departure and the timing kind of been a bit of a hiccup in what’s going on now in terms of the relationship with FOM?
NT: Is there a thing we would have done differently? I think there’s very few things in my life. I would have not changed in one way or another if I had more time. So, yes, there are things we would have had more time to discuss. As always, you have to act against time and so on. Would it have been drastically different to where we have it? I don’t think so. I think we have to stress the fact that we have much bigger participation of PU manufacturers than before. And I think that’s something to be proud of. Regarding the relationship with FOM, yes, Pat did have a very important role. And we were closely working on things. And I wish him luck in his new endeavours. Our relationship with FOM has never been stronger, and we do discuss it very closely. So, of course, it is putting a bit more of a burden on us, the FIA, but I think that’s under control.

Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) There’s obviously been a lot of talk about the active aero and the switching between X and Z-Modes, can you just clarify exactly what’s going to be driver controlled, what elements of automation there will be within that, how much governance there will be in terms of when you can and cannot switch, and also the safety failsafes that are going to be built into the regs, because of concerns of if you’re in the low drag mode when you don’t want to be through some failure.
JM: OK. All that is currently still in discussion with the teams. So it’s not like we have fully described all the detail of how and when you activate. The general line we will follow is similar to the DRS. So the DRS, you need to tick the box in terms of distance or lap time distance to the car in front of you at a given point, and then the driver can deploy. But it’s a driver that pushes a button and deploys the DRS. And he is also closing it. So it’s going to be effectively, currently, if you think about how the DRS work, we think the approach for the X-Mode would be exactly the same. Some conditions are being fulfilled, like very low or no lateral acceleration, so effectively exiting the corner. If these conditions are ticked off, then when he will press a button, the driver will press, and it’s not going to be automated. Then his DRS and the front wing will open up to go in the low drag. And shortly before arriving on the braking zone, he will deactivate it. And if not, it will make sure it does deactivate. The approach on failure analysis, or FEMA failure, and the system could be subject to, it will be subject to the same approach that back in the day was done with the DRS. And we’ll just have the same extremely rigorous approach, making sure that the system, once deployed the first time during the winter test, will be just doing what it’s supposed to do and not subject to constant reliability issues or even worse, safety. That a few teams might have a few hiccups in the first winter test is to be expected, but I genuinely think the experience gained over the years on the DRS should be perfectly transferable on the front and therefore the system will not be a huge challenge for the teams in terms of can we get it to work and can we get it to work safely, reliably, because it’s going to be almost on every straight line. This we are not too worried about.