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Why Mercedes blocked October delay over F1’s 2026 rules

Formula 1 is facing a critical few weeks to try to get consensus over a reshaping of the planned 2026 regulations.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

With the FIA having taken teams by surprise last week in revealing details of what has been laid out for F1's next rules revolution, the state of the draft rules caused some unease in the Montreal paddock.

Amid a consensus that the performance of the cars falls short of what F1 needs – with the current ideas making them too fast on the straights and too slow in the corners – revisions are now on their way.

Indeed, the FIA's single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis told both the media and teams during separate gatherings on Saturday that the draft rules were set to be altered.

"We are not in the final set of regulations yet and we do have quite a few things that we need to find and discuss with the teams," he said.

"We are equally conscious of some of the concerns regarding downforce with the cars or straightline speed, and these are things that we class as refinements that still need to take place."

The path to finalising the modified rules is interesting because it will be taking place under governance that requires formal support from teams.

Up until now, the FIA has had the right to sort out the regulations alone as the International Sporting Code means that rules do not need to be approved by the competitors within 18 months of them coming into force.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, the rest of the field at the start

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

In fact, with a June 30 deadline to lay down the 2026 rules, while the FIA has consulted teams on ideas and asked for feedback, it has not required any backing from them over what was being put down in the rule book.

That all changes on July 1 when the rules will then fall under the jurisdiction of the Concorde Agreement – which requires that any modifications from that point will require support from the F1 Commission.

It is a scenario that could potentially make altering some things more time-consuming, as the process means discussions will have to go through the formal routes of the Technical Advisory Committee and referred up to the F1 Commission.

There a majority of support will be enough to see through any alterations. But, in the world of F1, nothing is ever guaranteed so there could be unexpected roadblocks in achieving some tweaks.

The prospect of things potentially being more complicated to solve from July 1 prompted some thought recently that there should be a delay to the framing of the 2026 regulations until October – which would give the FIA more time to get them in better shape.

It also appeared to make total sense as, under current regulations, teams are not allowed to start any aerodynamic work on the 2026 cars until January.

So, an October publication would theoretically make no difference to one happening in June.

However, those plans fell through when a team vote failed to get the unanimous support needed – as Mercedes refused to support it.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

That decision forced the FIA's hand in sticking to the June 30 deadline and setting up the circumstances that F1 finds itself in right now.

While there are some who feel F1 could have benefitted from this extra time to get the 2026 regulations improved, it is understood Mercedes' stance was fuelled by the fact that it did not want to kick the can down the road.

The fear was that if publishing the draft rules was delayed until October, then there was no guarantee that those regulations would not require the same scale of improvements the current ones do.

But in October, there would effectively only be a two-month period to get things settled before teams kicked off their work in January – which may not have been enough time to finalise all that could be needed.

So, in flushing out the draft regulations now, the hope is that the six-month window should at least allow things to be in a much better shape by the time the green flag is waved in January.

And while the governance process that is about to kick off to shape the 2026 rules does have its risks of competitive self-interest taking over, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said in Montreal he had no doubt the end result would be a good one.

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"The FIA and the teams agree that we need to optimise the regulations because the car's performance is just not good enough at this stage," he said. "I'm sure we can achieve that."

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