The FIA has outlined plans for its next-generation powertrains to feature simplified hybrid elements and run on sustainable fuel. The Volkswagen Group is poised to enter F1 with either the Porsche or Audi brand when the new power-unit rules come into force in 2026, and this latest announcement further boosts that prospect.
- VW has been pushing for less complex F1 hybrid systems
- Current 1.6-litre V6 engine will be retained
F1 to drop MGU-H
Volkswagen has attended a number of meetings about the new rules, but its entry was also dependent on a decision to simplify the hugely complex twin hybrid system that F1 currently uses.
The FIA Motor Sport World Council has now validated a basic framework for the 2026 power unit regulations. Powertrains will continue to be built around turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 combustion engines. The total electrical power available will be increased to 475hp, although this will now come from a single Energy Recovery System (ERS) hybrid unit.
The hugely complex Motor Generator Unit - Heat (MGU-H), which captures energy from exhaust gases, will be scrapped, with all the electrical energy now generated through the Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic (MGU-K), which recaptures energy under braking.
The Volkswagen Group had been reluctant to commit to the expense of developing an MGU-H system, given that it has little relevance to road cars. By comparison, the MGU-K system is similar in concept to energy recapture systems on most road-going hybrids and EVs.
100 percent sustainable fuel
The engines will also run on "100 percent sustainable fuels", although no further details of this have been given. Porsche recently started production at a trial e-fuels plant in Chile and is aiming to eventually switch the one-make Porsche Supercup – which runs on the F1 support package – to the fuel.
The FIA said the rules were designed to meet four key objectives. These include delivering “a powerful environmental message” through the use of 100 percent sustainable fuel and a shift of focus to electrical power, and a pledge to make it possible for newcomers to join the sport “at a competitive level”.
The governing body also wants the new rules to enable a significant cost reduction and to “protect the show” through powerful, high-revving and loud cars that give the drivers the ability to race. A more detailed outline of the planned 2026 Power Unit Regulations will be given early next year.