Environmental sustainability is one of the main goals of current Formula 1 policies, which has set itself the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Therefore, the 2026 engine regulations are among the many steps that need to be taken along the way, as the next generation of power units will lead to the debut of newly conceived fuels with climate protection in mind.
To achieve the goal, fuels will no longer rely on fossil fuels, but will consist of a blend of bio-components and synthetic types.
The technical regulation scrupulously regulates the environmental sustainability of new fuels, also taking into consideration the European Union standards. In fact, article 16.1.2 reads: “The final fuel mixture must achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the one derived from fossil fuels, at least equal to what is defined for the transport sector by the Directive of the European Union on Renewable Energy in force on 1 January of the year preceding the Formula 1 Championship being analyzed”.
In the regulation there are several articles drawn up to ensure effective environmental sustainability in every way possible and not just for the sake of it. In fact, the possible social implications and the impact on local ecosystems are also taken into account, for example by prohibiting the exploitation of biomass obtained from land subtracted from food cultivation. In other sections, however, it is required that for the synthesization of fuel “in any process where sustainable energy is used, this must be in excess of local domestic needs”.
In summary, the FIA and Formula 1 have done everything possible to push engine manufacturers and companies towards research that ensures the neutral balance of carbon and greenhouse gases over the entire cycle of production and combustion of fuels. However, gaps remain in terms of harmful effects of fuels for human health, as even in 2026 there will still be a substantial percentage of carcinogenic components, already present in the fuels used for current power units. This aspect was criticized by Claudio Lombardi, a former director of the Ferrari engine department, in a recent interview for FormulaPassion.it:
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection from Puma! Enter the online Puma Store and shop securely! And get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
“We show off environmental sustainability, but it is surprising how a composition of 40% aromatic compounds is granted for the fuel. The aromatic is extremely carcinogenic, but it is granted at 40% then putting the “fig leaf” of benzene limited to 1%. All aromatic compounds are carcinogenic, for example toluene comes to mind. This is a point that deserves to be carefully considered and is incomprehensible, because for the same reasons we are moving towards a reduction of aromatics in mass production”.
This is a point that will not represent a step back compared to the current Formula 1 technical framework, but also not a step forward.