Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

FIA closes off backdoor route to obtain rivals’ F1 engine secrets

The FIA has closed off a potential backdoor route for Formula 1 manufacturers to get hold of rivals’ 2026 engine IP through the use of fuel suppliers.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, at the start

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, at the start

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

F1’s car makers are currently working on the design of the new turbo-hybrid power units that will come into play from 2026.

While the basic formula of the 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid ICE will remain the same, the power balance between combustion and electrical energy will shift.

F1 is doing away with the MGU-H, and is aiming for a straight 50/50 power split between batteries and the ICE.

The changes will require all-new engine designs, and that has opened the door for Audi and Red Bull Powertrains to join the field as suppliers – ramping up competition on the grid.

But as work progresses on the power units, the FIA has intriguingly issued amendments to the 2026 engine rules that have closed off any scope for manufacturers gaining an illicit advantage through the use of fuel partners – whose input is essential to maximising potential with the new designs.

Changes to the regulations have clamped down on the potential for fuel suppliers to do engine bench testing with a full V6, which would have fallen outside restrictions that manufacturers themselves have to comply with.

Red Bull Racing RB19, Power Unit

Photo by: Erik Junius

Red Bull Racing RB19, Power Unit

An addition to article 2.8 of the 2026 F1 power unit sporting rules states: “A PU Manufacturer’s Existing or Prospective Fuel/Oil Supplier is not permitted to operate a Power Unit Test Bench for the purposes of 2026 PU development or development of fuel and/or oil for the 2026 PU, with the exception of one Single-Cylinder Dynamometer exclusively for the development of fuel and/or oil, provided that it is one of the Single Cylinder Dynamometers declared by the Power Unit Manufacturer to FIA.”

This regulation would rule out the possibility of a manufacturer gaining advanced knowledge of engine design from bench testing done by a fuel supplier – that beforehand would have been without restriction.

Further limits have also been imposed on any transfer of 2026 engine IP through fuel suppliers, and any staff who could move between companies.

In a revised Appendix 2 of the 2026 technical regulations, the FIA lays out the elements of engine IP that cannot be shared with fuel suppliers.

This includes:

1) Any drawing and/or CAD and/or any physical parts (such as but not limited to piston, cylinder head, etc.) of the combustion chamber.
2) Any information relating to gas exchange within the combustion chamber (such as but not limited to cams, ports, plenum, exhausts, cam timing, etc.), apart from cylinder pressure data, simulation and dyno test results.

In addition, there are also restrictions on personnel from fuel suppliers being able to take IP with them if they switch allegiances.

Fuel drums outside of the Ferrari garage

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fuel drums outside of the Ferrari garage

New rules state: “No PU Manufacturer may use the movement of personnel (whether employee, consultant, contractor, secondee or any other type of permanent or temporary personnel) with an Existing or Prospective Fuel/Oil Supplier or another PU Manufacturer, either directly or via an external entity, for the purpose of obtaining an Intellectual Property transfer and/or circumventing the requirements of this Article.

“In order that the FIA may be satisfied that any such movement of staff is compliant with this Article, each PU Manufacturer must inform the FIA of all relevant staff movements at the end of each calendar quarter using the template which may be found in the Appendix to the Technical and Sporting Regulations and must demonstrate that they have implemented all reasonable measures to avoid the disclosure of Intellectual Property, including but not limited to that explicitly detailed in this Article, between the PU Manufacturer and an Existing or Prospective Fuel/Oil Supplier involved.”

Additional clarifications

The updated engine regulations also feature modified wording of certain articles, in order to add clarity.

And, while most of the changes are correcting what many might consider to be word salad in the first place, there are a number of additions that will make sense in regards to the long term development of the power units.

The highlights of these include in the Technical Regulations.

5.7.2 The overall mass of the PU must be a minimum of 185 kg (Only the ICE was previously listed in this section, with a minimum mass of 130 kg selected).
5.8.3 There must be no more than one butterfly or rotating barrel, as described in Article 5.1.33, in the geometrical path of air exiting the compressor outlet and going to any cylinder.
5.11.7 The High pressure fuel pump may only be driven by one of the camshafts actuating the intake or exhaust valves.

Article 6.4.2, which covers the temperature of fuel in the car, has also been overhauled, increasing the time an ambient reference temperature is recorded prior to the sprint or race sessions. This will now allow a three-hour window ahead of these sessions, rather than two. The fuel flow meter has been designated as the sensor that will record this information.

Be part of Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Bodyguard-protected Verstappen feels “safe” in Mexico amid “made-up” Perez F1 rivalry
Next article Perez hopes Mexico F1 paddock access clampdown will create “nice balance”

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe