Could changes to Formula 1 attract another new car company?

Formula 1 is inching towards an agreement on a new engine design to be used from 2026 – and it looks increasingly likely that its introduction will tempt at least one of the Volkswagen Group’s brands to join the grid.

Two key aspects of the sport’s plans have attracted VW.

They are a simplification of the hybrid engines, levelling the playing field for a new entrant competing with others who have been in the sport for decades, and a commitment to adopt sustainable fuels.

The VW Group has been involved in discussions over the new engine formula in the past months, and senior F1 insiders say they are increasingly certain that at least one VW brand – mostly likely Audi or Porsche – will enter in 2026.

From F1’s point of view, that would be a vote of confidence from the world’s second largest car company in a direction of travel based on the premise that electrical power is not the only answer to a sustainable future for motive transport.

Talks are not finalised, but a broad agreement on the way the future will look has been reached, with smaller details still to be resolved.

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What’s changing on the engines?

The key difference between the engines F1 will use from 2026 and the current ones will be the removal of a device called the MGU-H.

This is the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo-charger. It is at the heart of the revolutionary levels of efficiency F1 engines are able to achieve, but it has some key downsides – it is incredibly complex and expensive to perfect, and it has proven not that relevant to application in standard road-car engines.

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