Horner has been expressing his concerns during both F1 Commission and team principal meetings regarding the formulation of the 2026 racing rules package. He warns that inappropriate drafting of the rules may lead to the creation of ‘Frankenstein’ cars.
According to him, the combination of the combustion engine and battery may potentially lead to power units swiftly exhausting their electric power on the straights if the cars are not sufficiently aerodynamic, thereby ridiculing the sport’s spectacle.
Contrarily, Wolff does not concur with Horner’s apprehensions on this matter, suspecting that this might be a strategic move connected to Red Bull’s in-house Powertrain development.
Marking a historical first, Red Bull is designing and manufacturing its proprietary engine, a venture that will partner with Ford starting from 2026.
When questioned about his perspective on Horner’s 2026 viewpoint, Wolff responded: “It seems more likely that his concerns stem from his own engine program not progressing as planned, and this might be a tactic to quash the new rules.
“So, one always needs to scrutinize the actual intention behind such remarks.”
Horner advocates for a reduction in the reliance on batteries by revising the 50/50 split between combustion and electrical power.
Photo by: Mark Sutton / F1 Flow Images
However, Wolff believes that retracting from the proposed 2026 engine rules, which were exhaustively formulated to draw in Audi and convince Honda to recommit, is completely out of the question.
Wolff adamantly stated, “This retraction is absolutely impossible. Zero chance, in uppercase. Hence, I’m unsure why these concerns are being raised.
“These regulations, developed over numerous years with the contribution of all automakers, lured Audi into finally joining the sport and encouraged Honda to maintain their presence. This is the ideal scenario for F1.
“Is it a challenging proposition? Do our chassis designers ponder on its execution? Absolutely. But it’s excellent.
“The regulations are now final and will not be deferred any longer, as it’s crucial to exhibit innovations towards sustainability. We have to cut down emissions. And we’re genuinely thrilled.”
Despite the impending challenges to ensure the active aero, planned for the 2026 cars, effectively retains the F1 cars’ performance in corners and on straights, Wolff believes these issues are surmountable.
In response to claims that the spectacle will be marred due to drivers downshifting on the straights to recharge batteries, Wolff retorted, “These are simply naysayers.
“Do you honestly believe that we, as a sport rooted in innovation, cannot devise chassis/engine regulations that prevent drivers from downshifting on the straight?
“It’s true that incorporating the future power unit into today’s chassis would lead to significant power unit derates on some tracks with extended straights (allegedly including Monza, Saudi, and Baku). But that’s only based on current efficiency.
“We’re not simply attaching these to the existing heavy, elephantine chassis. That’s what we need to reengineer for 2026.
“Whether that means incorporating retractable aerodynamic elements, or altering the shapes of the cars to meet the demands of a more sustainable world with improved aerodynamic efficiency, I believe that’s exciting.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 2026 rules
What are Horner’s concerns about the 2026 F1 rules?
Horner is worried about the potential for the 2026 rules to lead to ‘Frankenstein’ cars. He is concerned that the combination of the combustion engine and battery could cause power units to quickly run out of electric power on straights if the cars are not sufficiently aerodynamic.
What is Wolff’s response to Horner’s worries?
Wolff disagrees with Horner’s fears, suggesting that they might be politically motivated due to issues with Red Bull’s own Powertrain development. He believes the 2026 rules are set and will not be changed, emphasizing the need for innovation and sustainability in the sport.
What change does Horner suggest for the 2026 rules?
Horner proposes revising the 50/50 split between combustion and electrical power in favor of less reliance on batteries.
What significant step is Red Bull taking from 2026?
For the first time in its history, Red Bull will be designing and manufacturing its own engine. This effort will be in partnership with Ford from 2026 onwards.
What does Wolff think about the challenges of ensuring the active aero for the 2026 cars?
Wolff acknowledges the challenges but sees them as surmountable. He dismisses claims that the spectacle of the sport will suffer due to drivers downshifting on straights to recharge batteries and is excited about potential innovations for more sustainable and efficient cars.