Two-time world champion Max Verstappen has slammed regulations set to be introduced into Formula 1 in 2026.
He reasoned that the focus on 50 percent of the power unit's output coming from the hybrid system would lead to undesirable impacts on the sport.
An increase in weight, the volume of batteries that would need to be carried, and the impact that has on aerodynamics, he suggested, were all reasons the sport needs to re-examine its approach.
“I've been talking about that as well with the team and I've seen the data already on the simulator as well,” Verstappen began when asked his thoughts on the 2026 ruleset.
“To me, it looks pretty terrible.
“I mean, if you go flat-out on the straight at Monza, I don't know what it is, like four or five hundred [metres] before the end of the straight, you have to downshift flat-out because that's faster.
“That's not the way forward.
“Of course, probably that's one of the worst tracks but for me, the problem is, it looks like it's going to be an ICE competition – like whoever has the strongest engine will have a big benefit.
” I don't think that should be the intention of Formula 1 because then you will start a massive development war again, and it will become quite expensive to find, probably a few horsepower here and there.”
Verstappen's comments, which echo those of his team boss, come as Red Bull is ramping up its own power trains division.
It has signed a commercial agreement with Ford, which will see branding on the power unit the team uses from 2026, in a project that is a significant investment from Red Bull.
However, Verstappen's concerns of a development arms race seem to misrepresent the rules as they will be applied.
For 2026, a cost cap will be placed on power units, as there is the operational cost on teams (including chassis development).
While that could still see one manufacturer with a clear advantage, it is no greater risk than any other change to the engine regulations.
Regarding the hybrid system, Verstappen and Horner have been the lone voices suggesting drivers will need to downshift on straights.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff didn't share their opinion and suggested the new regulations open opportunities for designers and engineers.
“I think what frightens him (Horner) more is that maybe his engine programme is not coming along and maybe he wants to kill it that way,” Wolff remarked.
“You always have to question what is the real motivation to say something like that.”
While the chassis regulations have not yet been fixed for 2026, the working concept currently involves moveable aerodynamic elements.
Those too came under fire from Verstappen, who suggested they were a solution to a problem that need not exist in the first place.
He also questioned the implementation of such a concept.
“You have the active aerodynamics, which you can't control,” he explained.
“The system will control it for you, which then I think makes it very awkward to drive because I prefer to control it myself – when you're behind someone, maybe you need more front or more rear, these kind of things.
“If the system starts to control that for you, I don't think that's the right way forward.
“Plus, the weight is going up again.
“We have to seriously look at this because, I mean, '26 is not that far away and at the moment, to me, it looks very bad from all the numbers and what I see from the data already.
“It's not something I'm very excited about at the moment.”