For the 2026 season, F1 is looking to introduce active aerodynamics in an effort to increase the excitement of individual battles. Last year, Pirelli reported that there were 785 overtakes in the 2022 season, up from 599 overtakes in the previous 2021 season. Much of that increase is due the use of DRS (Drag Reduction System) but the FIA is looking to make overtaking a bit more challenging come 2026.
According to this new report from Motorsport, F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds said that DRS will remain but added active aero will bring some downforce back to cars that lose it while closely following behind another car.
DRS works by having an active rear wing that can be opened by the driver in DRS-enabled zones to reduce drag for cars that are within one second of the car leading them. That reduction in drag provides a temporary boost in speed, helping drivers overtake. However, overtaking almost became too easy with DRS, which may have reduced the excitement of individual driver battles throughout the season, according to Symonds.
"It's the battle that's interesting, it's the unpredictability—is he going to get past? And I know a lot of people criticize DRS, and that was the trouble with DRS, it can make a pass too easy," he said.
Having more comprehensive active aerodynamics could augment drag while DRS is enabled, to balance out driver advantages and make individual battles more exciting. However, aside from some active aero, the 2026 cars should be pretty conventional, according to Symonds. He said that the FIA looked into a variety of different ideas, including some from the past, like skirted ground effect cars and even the famous Brabham fan car. Though it seems the FIA settled on something fairly simple. Teams will get a first look at the 2026 chassis regulations toward the end of the month.
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