Max Verstappen expresses desire for lighter Formula 1 cars in 2026

• Formula 1 editor Joost Smedemaredacteur in Montreal

• Formula 1 editor Joost Smedemaredacteur in Montreal
• 10 centimeters smaller, 20 centimeters shorter, 30 kilograms lighter. If it were up to Max Verstappen, the new generation of Formula 1 cars would have been much smaller. “They should definitely have been 100 to 150 kilograms lighter.” On Thursday, the FIA presented the technical regulations and the appearance of the cars that will be racing in Formula 1 from 2026. Verstappen is happy that they are getting a bit smaller. The Red Bull driver has mentioned multiple times that he finds the current cars too cumbersome. However, Verstappen understands why they have only reduced the weight by 30 kilograms. The electric component in the hybrid engines is increasing, making the cars more sustainable. “The battery of that electric motor is a quite heavy and large part. A reduction of 100 kilograms is not possible at the moment, but that is what we need to make the cars more agile and the racing more enjoyable,” said Verstappen at the Montreal circuit, where the Canadian Grand Prix is taking place this week. Verstappen is pleased with the re-signing of Pérez and the new Formula 1 regulations.

Lighter cars have excited all drivers. Lewis Hamilton calls the weight reduction “a step in the right direction,” as does Daniel Ricciardo. “I loved the car in 2016, it was even narrower and lighter,” says the Australian. “It won’t be as extreme as back then, but they have listened to what we as drivers find important. This is a good step.” DRS disappears from 2026, a button on the steering wheel that allows drivers to open a flap on the rear wing to overtake a car within shooting distance by reducing air resistance. The new Formula 1 car from 2026 also has a feature that is intended to promote more overtaking maneuvers, but it is less visible than it is currently. When following a predecessor within one second, the engine power can be temporarily increased. The new cars will also have an active aerodynamic system on both the front and rear wings. Drivers can adjust the wings in corners or straight sections, regardless of whether an overtaking maneuver can be initiated. Verstappen says, “I have to say, between the first things I saw and these latest reports, good steps have been taken in the way the engine and chassis relate to each other. Maybe you need bananas or red shells. But I don’t know how effective it will be yet. Maybe you need bananas or red shells,” jokes Verstappen, who, from racing on the console, knows the overtaking tricks of Mario Kart. “I find it difficult to say anything about it now.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc also does not yet know what to expect from 2026. “It is difficult to comment on numbers and what you read on paper, but bit by bit, more clarity will come in the coming months.” For his teammate Carlos Sainz, the new regulations are particularly interesting. Due to Hamilton’s arrival at Ferrari in 2025, Sainz will have to look for a new team. The rule changes a year later make that search “a lottery,” says the Spaniard. “It is impossible to predict who will be competitive, I think everything could be turned upside down in 2026.” This creates a mixed feeling for McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. “Every time the rules change drastically, the teams are far apart,” he points out, especially in 2014, when the introduction of new engines marked the beginning of years of Mercedes dominance. Now a new regulation is coming. Just as Ferrari and McLaren are closing the gap with Red Bull, the strongest team since the 2022 car generation. “A rule change can lead to big differences, making people think: oh, it’s boring again,” says Piastri’s teammate Lando Norris. “I hope it doesn’t go that way.” Verstappen also knows: “the longer you keep the rules the same, the closer the teams get.” This is evident from the fact that now, in the third season, Ferrari and McLaren are challenging Red Bull. Piastri says, “But Formula 1 also wants to lead in innovation, that has always been the focus in this sport. You could argue that sometimes it comes at the expense of racing, which is always a shame. It could well be that the field is being pulled further apart again. “But that could attract new engine manufacturers to the sport,” adds Sergio Pérez (Red Bull). “Let’s enjoy the next year and a half with these regulations and the excitement in the races that comes with it.” The Canadian Grand Prix on NOS.