Drivers fear that new technical rules can create big gaps between teams

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Formula One drivers fear that teams will be separated by big gaps in the pecking order when the sport introduces the heavily-revised cars for the 2026 F1 season.

Formula One announced the heavily-revised technical regulation last week, confirming key tweaks to the aerodynamics and the power units of the cars that will arrive in 2026.

Previous regulation changes have often seen the pecking order spread out, helping certain teams to secure a big competitive advantage over their rivals.

In 2014 when the sport made the switch from the V8 engines to the V6 hybrid power units, Mercedes emerged dominant.

With in-season development having been heavily limited, rival engine-makers were unable to catch up quickly which meant that Mercedes could maintain its advantage for several years.

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri has not experienced any big technical overhauls yet as he joined the pinnacle of motorsport last season which was the second year of the current generation cars.

However, the Australian fears that the complete overhaul of regulation could mean that a team kicks off a long period of dominance.

"I mean, I kind of agree with both points. I think every time the regs have changed, it's led to a pretty big spread, especially with engines, 2014 being the last time with that and kicking off a really long period of dominance.

"And I think we've seen even with these regs, we're only just starting to catch up to Red Bull, week in, week out, now. I think we have an important place in society to be at the forefront of technology and innovation, and I think that's always what F1's been about in some ways.

"And I guess you could argue that sometimes that does come at the cost of the racing, which is always a shame. Yeah, I think both points are kind of separate, really. I wouldn't be surprised if the teams sort of separate a bit more in 2026, both with different aero regs and especially the engine regs.

"There's a very big chance, I would say, that the teams are going to be more spread out than what they are now. But we'll have to wait and see," added Piastri.

Over the course of his decorated career that saw him secure seven world champion titles, Lewis Hamilton has experienced on multiple occasions how a technical revamp can influence the pecking order.

Interestingly, the Briton fears that the changes to the power unit regulation can turn the pecking order on its head, but he hopes that engine manufacturers can stay close to each other.

"Probably similar to what Oscar said. I think it's difficult to say, but more often than not, when they've done the changes, some teams do better than the others, and there is a bit of a difference early on.

"I hope that with this new regulation change that everything's a bit closer, and the engine's not a complete revamp.

"It's not like moving from V8 to V6, so hopefully through that, that doesn't make too big a difference, and then it's just about getting the cars right.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez thinks that it is possible that a team will find a loophole in the regulation which will help him secure an edge over its rivals.

"We’ve got to enjoy the year and a half that we’ve got left with this regulation in this very close racing. Because there's always a potential that someone is going to get it right – very right – like we've seen some other teams have done that in the past.

"And then it's really difficult. It takes a few years to catch up. So I do expect that to happen in ‘26. As always, I think the best for the sport will be to keep the rules as consistent as possible.

"But also, like Oscar said, there is a lot to do with the sport, with the technology involved to attract new manufacturers' said the Mexican.