Max Verstappen says he is worried that Formula 1 cars in 2026 will be “terrible” after carrying out work on the simulator.
F1 is set to introduce new technical regulations in three years’ time, with new power unit rules agreed upon in 2022.
During the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner highlighted that there were concerns over increasing weight and the ratio between combustion power and electrical power.
Verstappen mirrored Horner’s comments, stating that he found himself downshifting while flat out at the end of long straights due to it being faster.
“I’ve been talking about that as well with the team and I’ve seen the data already on the simulator as well,” the two-time World Champion said.
“To me, it looks pretty terrible. I mean, if you go flat-out on the straight at Monza, I don’t know what it is, like four or five hundred [metres] before the end of the straight, you have to downshift flat-out because that’s faster.”
“I think that’s not the way forward. Of course, probably that [Monza] is one of the worst tracks [to test on].”
Six engine manufacturers have signed up for the 2026 season, with Ford tying up with Red Bull, Audi making its F1 debut and Honda returning to the grid alongside the already established parties.
F1’s last major revamp of the engine regulations occurred in 2014, with Mercedes jumping out of the gates as the strongest holding an advantage over its competition for several years.
Verstappen believes that in its current state, the 2026 pecking order will be defined by the strongest engine, rather than the entire car package.
“For me, the problem is, it looks like it’s going to be an ICE competition, like whoever has the strongest engine will have a big benefit,” he said.
“But I don’t think that should be the intention of Formula 1, because then you will start a massive development war again, and it will become quite expensive to find, probably a few horsepower here and there. I think it actually should be the opposite.
“Plus, the cars probably have a lot less drag. So, it will be even harder to overtake on the straight. And then I think yeah, you have the active aerodynamics, which you can’t control.
“The system will control it for you. Which then I think makes it very awkward to drive, because I prefer to control it myself.
“Of course, when you’re behind someone, maybe you need more front or more rear. These kind of things. If the system starts to control that for you, I don’t think that’s the right way forward.
“Plus, the weight is going up again. So yeah, we have to seriously look at this because I mean, 2026 is not that far away.
“And at the moment, to me, it looks very bad from all the numbers and what I see from the data already. So, it’s not something I’m very excited about at the moment.”