Russell concerned by ‘exceptionally quick’ 2026 Formula 1 cars

© XPB 

George Russell has sounded the alarm on the potential dangers that drivers could face with F1’s next-generation 2026 cars and their projected blistering top speeds.

On Thursday, the FIA outlined the concept and the main technical features of Grand Prix racing’s 2026 designs that place a significant emphasis on ‘active aerodynamics’.

While the future machines will see decreased cornering speeds through increased downforce, the cars are expected to be considerably faster on straights with less drag, with speeds potentially reaching a staggering 360 kilometers per hour on most tracks.

Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association has expressed concerns over the future cars’ velocity and urges the FIA to prioritize safety improvements in light of the significant performance changes that are projected.

Read also:

"The cars are going to take a quite a big turn in terms of how they perform," explained the Mercedes driver.

"They're going to be exceptionally quick in the straights, 360km/h probably at most tracks, which is pretty impressive.

"Obviously then the safety needs to be probably improved, because having a crash at 360, 370km/h is going to be pretty crazy."

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. 20.04.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sprint and Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Russell questions whether the pursuit of ever-increasing speeds in F1 aligns with the sport's core values and fan expectations.

"When it comes to safety, unfortunately, history has told us that incidents need to happen before changes are made," he continued.

"Everybody needs to do a really thorough job ahead of these regulations, because the cars are going to be so quick.

"It's going to have so little downforce in the straights, it's almost going to feel like you're just flying through the air.

"You can imagine in a race that it starts raining and you're on slick tyres, and you're doing 250 miles an hour on a street circuit. That's going to be a bit of a sketchy place to be, so these are questions that need to be answered.

"To be fair to the FIA, they are fully aware of this and they're on top of this, and they're looking at all of the possible scenarios of what could happen.

"Time will tell, but the cars are already bloody fast as they are. Where do we stop, are we going to get up to 400 kilometres an hour? Do the fans really need or want to see this?"

While acknowledging the thrill of today’s high-downforce racing, thanks to F1’s ground-effect machines, Russell would consider the potential rule changes in 2026 as a worthwhile trade-off if they improve the spectacle out on the track.

"From a driving standpoint you want the fastest cars, you want to feel like you're in a fighter jet and in 2020 and 2021 that's how it felt, and now these cars are getting very quick again," he added.

"It would be a shame to lose some of that performance of the car. But on the flip side, it will improve the racing if there's less downforce and there's less dirty air.

"You can't have it all and you've got to choose your battles. What is it that we want to achieve?

"For me, you want to have good, hard racing, and strong competition, ideally, between every team and every driver."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter