The technical regulation for the 2026 power units has now been established and the manufacturers have begun the first phase of studying and data analysis. Audi has made no secret that the first power unit to be produced by the German brand will go into motion at the end of the year.
The strong controversies that had prompted Ferrari not to sign the agreement for the 2026 engines are long gone, even if an important point of discussion still remains that has not yet been defined. We are referring to e-fuel, the synthetic fuel that will have the task of powering the next generation F1 engines, given that the power units currently in use will be homologated until the end of the 2025 season.
What is the drop point on carbon neutral fuel? It seems that an agreement has not yet been found whether to define a single supplier that would supply all the manufacturers or whether, instead, to leave an open field of research that could allow manufacturers to produce a fuel which can be evolved in pursuit of performance.
The promoter of Formula 1 would be pushing to go in the direction of the single supplier, while the producers of e-fuel (it is not certain that they have to be oil companies like Aramco) would like their hands free to have the possibility of developing fuel, aiming to the innovation that could have a direct impact on new generation of internal combustion unit engines that will be specifically designed to power the cars which will still be able to go on the market.
The engine manufacturers and, more generally, the F1 teams, fear that with a possible single supplier, the possible savings deriving from a standard product that is the same for everyone could be affected by the exit from the sport of big oil companies (Shell, Petronas, ExxonMobil, BP) who contribute with their generous sponsorships to the teams’ budgets.
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Since it is a sensitive issue in the definition of a Formula 1 and the sustainability factor, the subject has been treated with a grain of salt for now, even if the power unit manufacturers would like to work in the right direction.