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Wolff: F1 should not repeat same mistakes with new engine rules

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Wolff: F1 should not repeat same mistakes with new engine rules
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has cautioned that Formula 1 should focus on costs when deciding upon new power unit regulations for 2026.

Wolff says that the sport made a mistake when the current hybrid V6 rules were drawn up, because they have proved to be overly complex and too expensive.

Those rules will be in place for five further seasons, but discussions have already begun on what will replace them.

F1, the FIA and the manufacturers are keen to find the right balance of hybrid and internal combustion power, with sustainable fuels playing a key role.

There is also a focus on the cost element as part of an attempt to appeal to new manufacturers.

“The discussion was very good,” said Wolff. “One of the positives. It’s interesting where the auto industry goes, because everything develops in the direction of electric mobility, but there is also a new look at the internal combustion engine and the combination with electric drive.

“I believe we should look at the costs. Developing a completely new power unit is not somewhere we should go.

“We know that we made that mistake in 2011 and 2012 when we made a highly sophisticated and also very efficient power unit, but it got very complex.

“As things stand I think we need to have a combination of what we have today – an internal combustion engine and add hybrid energy and power in order to have a better ratio between sustainable energy propulsion and conventional ICE engines.”

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Wolff stressed that the cost of an engine programme and the use of sustainable fuels are the important elements for Mercedes.

“I don’t think it’s about simplifying, it’s just about trying to not have escalating costs,” he said. “And apart from the more electric component with potentially larger or more powerful battery pack, sustainable fuels are definitely the future." 

In a speech to Liberty Media investors last week, F1 boss Chase Carey stressed the importance of the 2026 rules to the organisation’s wider target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

“At the top of our priorities for both sustainability and our sport is building a road map for the combustion engine that addresses the environmental goals of our automotive partners and society,” he said.

“F1 has long served as a platform for introducing next generation advancements in the automotive world. We believe we have the opportunity to do that with a next generation engine that combines hybrid technology with advanced fuels.

“It is increasingly clear that electric will be part of the solution but that a carbon neutral combustion engine is as important if not more so to the world’s environmental goals.”

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Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper