Honda F1 Engine

F1 News: New Hybrid Power Units will initially ruin F1’s close racing

More engineers are saying the 2026 F1 hybrid power units will be very difficult to design and that could ruin F1’s close racing.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

If the 2026 power units will be difficult to design, some are bound to get it right, and others terribly wrong.

The Result?

Close racing in F1 will be destroyed. Cars will be strung out all around the track until the laggards eventually catch up years later.

Honda Hybrid F1 engine. Because of the heavier batteries in 2026, the power unit becomes 90 pounds heavier
Honda Hybrid F1 engine. Because of the heavier batteries in 2026, the power unit becomes 90 pounds heavier

Who can forget the power advantage Mercedes had at the beginning of the current hybrid era. They won nearly everything despite not having the best drivers.  The Mercedes Power Unit was so superior, no one else had a chance.

Why waste all the money on these new 2026 engines if you are risking ruining the races for the first 2 or 3 years?

Because they have real-world applications.

Car manufacturers are learning that consumers want hybrid engine powered cars, and few want 100% all-electric. Hybrid engine cars are far more popular with consumers than all-electric ones.

And the 2026 F1 hybrid power units will be ‘works of art’ – supplying nearly 50% of the overall power from the electric motor.

A difficult task, but think of the positive effect it will have on Fuel Mileage Ratings for passenger cars when the technology filters down to consumer vehicles.

Enrico Gualtieri explains the challenge ahead

Ferrari power unit technical director Enrico Gualtieri has said that Formula 1’s new engine manufacturers will face a ‘huge challenge’ preparing for the sport’s new regulations set to come into force in 2026.

Enrico Gualtieri, Head of Ferrari F1 Power Unit Area

Audi and a Ford-supported Red Bull Powertrains program are to join the four incumbent engine providers for F1’s 2026 shakeup of its power unit regulations with Andretti-Cadillac a possibility to join that list mid-cycle.

Gualtieri has warned of a challenge for those without the benefit of existing knowledge of F1 hybrids and the infrastructure required to build a championship-contending engine.

“It’s hard to say because, obviously, I’m not in their facility or in their shoes,” Gualtieri said of the expectations for the likes of Audi and Ford ahead of 2026.

“But in the end, I think that for sure the level of complexity of this product is high. And it’s true that preparing for a brand-new project is not an easy task for anyone.

“So I can for sure respect the job that they are doing on this, because for sure you need to learn and to create something that is not only related to design, competencies or skill from the engineering perspective, but also logistics or infrastructure. So they are facing an important and huge challenge as well.”

“On our side, obviously, it’s a different thing,” he continued. “It’s true as well that we have to cope with the current program that is still somehow requiring energy in order to be obviously looked after in view of what we have to deploy on the season.

“So somehow they are different challenges, but both of them are quite high in terms of level of effort that we have worked to deploy.

“It’s true that we are entering this stage at which we are developing the core parts of the new hybrid power unit.

“But in terms of percentage it’s somehow easy, because at the end we have dyno hours for the current period that are somehow defined, and these are reducing season by season.
“So this season we will have a further reduction on the dyno hours that we can deploy on the current power unit. So we are reducing somehow by definition what we are putting on the current engine, and all the rest obviously has to be driven through the new project.

“Despite this challenge we are focused on the 2024 season as well, because this seems to be the longest season ever, and we know how challenging it will be for the components and for the power unit itself. So still, the focus is really, really high on the season that we are about to start.”

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