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EXPLAINED: More electrical power, more overtaking aids, more sustainable – the inside scoop on the 2026 power unit regulations

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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Formula 1 is set to get more powerful and be kinder to the environment from 2026, thanks to new power unit regulations announced today by the FIA. The rules run for pages and pages, so let us bring you the highlights.

Okay, hit me. When you say more powerful, what are we talking? And how have they done it?

Two very good questions. The current 1.6-litre, V6 turbocharged hybrid internal combustion engine – already the most efficient engine in the world – has been given a facelift.

READ MORE: FIA unveils Formula 1 regulations for 2026 and beyond featuring more agile cars and active aerodynamics

From 2026, it’ll feature a far more powerful battery component that will allow it to generate three times the electrical power produced by the current hybrid components, rising from 120kW to 350kW.

And even though the power from the engine element drops from between 550-560kW to 400kW, overall there will be more power available and it’ll be produced more sustainably, from the world’s most efficient hybrid engine.

2026 Formula 1 Regulations Explained

Nice, I like the sound of that. And what’s this I hear about more energy being recovered during braking?

You’ve got good sources! It’s true – the amount of energy recovered from braking is doubled to generate around 8.5 megajoules per lap.

What is the tangible benefit of an increased amount of energy recuperated through braking I hear you ask?

EXPLAINED: From more agile cars to 'X-mode' and 'Z-mode' – unpicking the 2026 aerodynamics regulations

I’m meant to ask the questions…

Sorry. Well anyway, higher acceleration out of the corner, due to an additional 120 horsepower, plus cars which are 30 kilograms lighter (more on that in our aerodynamics explainer) and less drag will lead to additional energy recovery at the end of a straight.

Cars will have three times more electric braking power – while different energy harvesting strategies will be available too, which means drivers can be more creative with how they utilise the extra energy they’ve collected.

From 2026 the new hybrid engine will feature a far more powerful battery

From 2026 the new hybrid engine will feature a far more powerful battery

Now while we’re talking about extra energy, can you explain what this manual override mode is all about?

Sure, this is a new feature that has been added to the 2026 rules in a bid to improve overtaking opportunities.

How does it work? Well, while the energy deployment of the leading car will taper off after 290kph, reaching zero at 355kph, the following car can benefit from the ‘MGU-K Override’ which provides 350kW all the way up to 337kph – that works out at around 0.5MJ of extra energy.

It can be used anytime a driver is within one second of the car in front.

GALLERY: Check out every angle of the 2026 F1 car

Lovely stuff. Switching topic slightly – the new rules seem to have attracted a lot of engine manufacturers…

They have indeed. From 2026, there will be six manufacturers involved.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have committed to remain in the sport, with Honda returning, Audi joining for the first time and Ford teaming up with Red Bull Power Trains.

The newcomers are said to have been attracted by the opportunity to develop a hybrid engine with a high energy recovery capacity, close to a 50-50 energy split, which in turn helps them develop technologies that are relevant to the road car arm of their businesses.

The removal of the MGU-H, which has proved a tricky component to master, was a popular move, too.

And they love the idea of running 100% sustainable fuels, given it supports their respective wider company goals of building to a more sustainable future.

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From 2026 there will be six engine manufacturers involved in Formula 1

Ah, yes. 100% sustainable fuel. Tell me more.

Before 2022, cars were running on fuel containing 5.75% bio-components. That ratio rose to 10% in 2022 through a move to E10 fuel (E stands for ethanol, 10 refers to the percentage in the mixture).

From 2026, following intense research and testing with Formula 1 partner ARAMCO, the fuel in every race car will be fully sustainable.

READ MORE: How sustainable fuels can benefit the world – and are more than just the future of F1

That means no new fossil carbon will be burned. Instead, the carbon will be derived from non-food sources, genuine municipal waste or even out of the atmosphere.

The fuel will also be ‘drop-in’, which means it can be used in almost any internal combustion engined vehicle around the world. By 2030, there will be around 1.2bn such cars on the road worldwide and thus fuel developed in Formula 1 could be used to reduce emissions.

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