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James Vowles

F1 remaining 'the pinnacle' is 'imperative' come 2026 - Williams

Williams team principal James Vowles has said it is "imperative" F1 remains the "pinnacle" of motorsport once the new power unit and chassis regulations are introduced in 2026.

Vowles
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Williams team principal James Vowles has defended the need for F1 to remain the "leading series in motorsport" after the next generation of regulations is implemented in 2026.

The FIA unveiled the new chassis rules ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. They include the much-discussed X and Z modes, which will bring active aerodynamics to the front wing as well as the rear of the car.

Although necessitated by the new power unit regulations, the hope is that the approach will protect top speeds, which are set to be curtailed by the increase of hybrid power in the engine rules, whilst maintaining the necessary downforce to maintain cornering speeds. 

However, there are concerns that the overall direction will drastically increase lap time, seeing F1 slipping towards the level of other series, such as Super Formula, IndyCar and even F2 - something Vowles is adamant F1 needs to be safeguarded against.

"It's imperative that we are still the leading series in motorsport," Vowles told media including RacingNews365 when asked how important it is that F1 remains the pinnacle of motorsport. 

"That's how I see us. We're the pinnacle of this. And therefore, as a result of that, we need to make sure that we're maintaining the performance and speed we have. And right now, I think Andrea [Stella, McLaren team principal, who said the new cars will currently be too slow in corners and too fast on straights] summarised it well, there's a mismatch there, fundamentally."

Vowles 'confident' solution to F1 regulations will be found

There is little genuine concern that F1 will end up slower than F2, and the FIA remains open to tweaking the regulations - although teams will need to work together to have the already-confirmed power unit rules changed.

However, the gap minimising to only a matter of seconds is too close for comfort for Vowles. Despite this, the 44-year-old remains confident that a "better solution" will be reached.

"The performance difference to an F2 car could be as small as a few seconds. And that's starting to get a little bit tight, especially when you compare it to the other series around the world that you've nominated [Super Formula and IndyCar]," he explained.

"But also, as Andrea mentioned, these are draft regulations. And just this week, in fact, there were two changes which took quite a bit of downforce away. 

"I'm confident we'll get to a better solution in that regard. It's not that we're so far away. Just a little bit more work required, though."

Also interesting:

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The trio discuss how significant this weekend is in the title fight, whether Red Bull's advantage will return and if Andrea Kimi Antonelli will now make his F1 debut at just 17 years old. Much, much more is also discussed! 

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