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Red Bull: Active aero should not be treated as "patch" for wider F1 car problems

Formula 1 must not treat active aerodynamics as a quick “patch” for bigger problems with the proposed 2026 car concept, according to Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The 2026 engine rules increase the reliance on the electrified part of the hybrid powertrain - it will produce 50% of total power - while the expensive Motor Generator Unit–Heat has been ditched.

But initial data supplied to teams led to fears of ‘Frankenstein cars’, with Max Verstappen claiming he was downshifting on straights in simulator runs to compensate for massive power drop offs.

As such, F1 is expected to adopt active front and rear wings for the chassis technical regulations in a bid to reduce drag.

But Wache warns that these quick fixes, with the engine framework dictating car design, must not distract the championship from addressing the deeper-rooted issues.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport about the straight-line capabilities of the next-generation cars, he said: “The speed is going down and the feeling is not so nice. The FIA works with the teams on how this energy will be deployed to make it less annoying for the driver and to have a better speed profile throughout the lap.

“Plus, they also work on the car characteristics to have less drag and less downforce. By having less downforce, you recover more energy because you spend more time in the corners and in the braking zones, and then you spend less time on straights.”

Pierre Wache, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Pierre Wache, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Asked about the role active aerodynamics can play, Wache replied: “You cannot put patch on patch on patch to achieve something. You have to look at the problem with a bigger view and say, ‘How do I sort this out and how do I solve my problem? What car characteristic do I need to achieve something?’

“If you need a patch to solve some things, you can still do that afterwards. But you don’t start with a patch first. Otherwise, it never works.”

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Wache also warned that the more aerodynamic devices relied upon, the harder it will be for F1 to chase a desired 50kg weight saving for 2026.

It has been suggested that F1 could move away from the proposed 50:50 power split to increase the emphasis on the 1.6-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine.

But the FIA has no plans to pursue this and would face backlash from engine manufacturers who are already spending on research and development.

“The problem is that the design time and the development time of an engine are longer than the chassis,” explained Wache. “So, to change the concept of the ICE, the battery and the electrical power starts to be very difficult for them by now.

“But the thing is that they didn’t think through the full concept [of these new regulations] at the same time. First they defined the engine regulations and now we have to cope with that on the chassis side to compensate for the issue we have.”

Additional reporting by Ronald Vording

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