Formula One has always controlled the domination of the sport by a team via creating significant car or engine regulation changes periodically. From 1950 to 2005 the engine specifications were repeatedly changed though V12 power units dominated that era. Then for 2006 V8 engines were mandated by the FIA through until 2013 when the latest V6 turbo hybrids were introduced.
However, the FIA has used other design regulations to switch it up mostly around the aerodynamic and mechanical designs of the F1 cars.
There were few changes in most of the car and power unit regulations between 2014 and 2021, which saw Mercedes dominate the world construcotrs’ title with 8 consecutive wins.
FIA change up regulations to prevent domination
For 2022 everything was set to change. F1 power unit designs were frozen given most teams had caught up with Mercedes and nobody had a significant advantage in that area.
Yet the car design regulations for 2022 were described by F1 commentators as the biggest in a generation and the domination of Mercedes appears to have been broken by this.
Formula One has has in recent times had 4 engine suppliers in Mercedes, Honda, Renault and Ferrari but there has been attempts for some time to lure other manufacturers into the sport.
The cost of the latest 1.6litre V6 hybrids is so eye watering, Formula One’s regulators believed it could resolve the problem by introducing new power unit manufacturers.
6 years have passed since new engine regs proposed
Discussions began back in 2017 with a range of potential new entrants to agree a design for the V6 replacements penciled for implementation in 2021 but quickly delayed to 2022.
The initial proposal was to simplify the incredibly complex V6 power units which in turn would cut costs together with enticing new entrants to the sport.
The V6 configuration would be retained but the expensive and complicated Motor Generator Unit-Heat would be abandoned given few sports or manufacturers deploy this technology other than Formula One.
The MGU-K which recovers energy and allows electrical deployment of power was to be made more powerful and there were to be many more standardised components to prevent customer teams being locked into one power unit supplier.
Porsche were keen to see 4 wheel drive included which mirrored technology used on their 919 Hybrid race car.
No new F1 manufacturers applied
However the FIA failed to drive any applications for the new manufacturers to join Formula one in 2021 or 2022 so the teams agreed to freeze the current V6 design and opted for a radical design in the chassis, body and aerodynamics of the F1 cars.
Most in Formula One are desperate to ditch the expensive current V6 power units with their price tag believed to be in excess of $10m per unit. Teams are allowed 3 per season before sporting penalties and 4 per season when the calendar hits 24 races.
Yet 6 years on from the first FIA working party in 2017 it appears little progress has been made. Despite interest from Porsche, Audi, Ford and even Hyundai only Audi has so far declared its hand.
With the loss of Honda to Formula One in 2021, Red Bull racing are expected to enter their own power unit for 2026, though collaboration with Honda on the battery side is expected.
F1 deadlines moved again
However, deadlines to commit to enter Formula One in 2026 have come and gone and even Red Bull Racing has yet to submit is application to the FIA.
Christian Horner was recently asked why the team had missed the latest FIA deadline for applications.
“It has been delayed for the reason that there are still elements regarding the governance and the regulations that are being tidied up. That affects everybody, not just Red Bull,” explained the Red Bull boss.
The original deadline for 2026 was set by the FIA for August 31st this season and Audi announced just a few days before this passed.
However with the breakdown of the Porsche-Red Bull discussions, the decline was extended to mid-October and has now passed again.
Horner clarifies, “The deadline has been extended again. Until mid-November at the moment.”
Red Bull Powertrains not ye entered for 2026
This is presumably to allow Porsche a last ditch effort to join the party with presumably the Williams team.
However there are still arguments behind the scenes on the exact specifications for the 2026 replacement for the current V6 hybrid and Red Bull Racing is also waiting for clarification it will be treated as a “new manufacturer”.
New manufacturers without F1 recent engine development and production experience will be given more leeway in terms of capital spend and testing time on their 2026 power units.
Red Bull Powertrains (RBP) currently supply the Alpha Tauri and Red Bull teams with their current F1 power units, though these are in effect Honda produced and manufactured with Honda retaining the intellectual property rights.
RBR is in reality at present a branding exercise.
The deadline to enter means teams already in can participate in the fie tuning of the regulations for 2026. Thos who apply after the closing date will not.
TJ13 believes the FIA have not agreed a basic set of regulations that satisfy all parties at present who with to apply and will most likely be forced to extend their acceptance of 2026 entries once again.
Romain Grosjean explains how Max Verstappen has evolved over the past seasons to become a dominant World Champion! 👇 pic.twitter.com/c0CUIf5WVP
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 31, 2022