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The medical car at the back of the field for the restart
Prime
Opinion

Why the 2026 rules expose the perils of F1’s road car quest

OPINION: Formula 1's next generation engine rules for 2026 have lured in new manufacturers and led to a need for active aero. But the world championship taking a pioneering role in this dimension unintentionally suggests that its desire to maintain road relevance may not be without its perils

To justify and secure an existence amid the climate crisis, the professional motorsport world is bearing down on two goals. First, carbon neutrality to show everyone that at least these series don’t come at a cost. Second, reasserting racing as a live technical testbed for innovations that can soon enough trickle down into the wider road car industry to bring about a greater good.

Formula 1 – working to be net carbon zero by 2030 – has done well to repeatedly achieve the latter over the decades. See driver aids, semi-automatic gearboxes, carbon fibre construction and so on. Although these innovations didn’t necessarily all debut in the top flight, it’s where they cemented their pioneering, needle-moving reputation.

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