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F1 gearboxes could see cost reduction changes from 2026 (Feature Image Credit: @Autosport on Twitter)
F1 gearboxes could see cost reduction changes from 2026 (Feature Image Credit: @Autosport on Twitter)

Are gearbox changes coming in 2026?

With the cost of gearboxes astronomical, could changes be made to transform their sustainability?

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As the costs of gearboxes in modern F1 threaten to spiral out of control, could the FIA be about to intervene with changes for 2026?

An F1 gearbox is a costly piece of equipment, with teams having a limited number of units available per season. (Image Credit: formula1.com)
An F1 gearbox is a costly piece of equipment, with teams having a limited number of units available per season. (Image Credit: formula1.com)

A gearbox penalty in F1 can significantly hamper a team in more than one instance. Even if awarded at the start of the season, the impact is still massive.  Currently, the limit of gearboxes is set at four for a whole season. Charles Leclerc has already seen crashes in Miami threaten his gearbox allocation. Alex Albon’s crash in FP1 at Monaco caused concern for Williams.

Errors or reliability issues lead to inevitable sporting penalties during the year. Hampering the driver over a race weekend, a grid penalty has a knock-on effect for the rest of the season.

Push for change

The unseen element of a gearbox penalty is the financial hit to the team. An F1 gearbox is a complex piece of technology, costing millions of dollars to create. Every time a gearbox fails, the replacement sets the team back.

Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack is now pushing for cost reduction changes for 2026.  Speaking to motorsport.com, Krack stated that the difference in performance between rival gearboxes is now minimal, “If you look at the gearbox these days, and you compare it with other motorsport categories, the gearbox is not a performance differentiator anymore. Everybody has more or less the same performance from the gearbox”

“But the cost for gearboxes is horrendous, especially if you compare it to other categories.”

Krack believes the team are wasting millions of dollars due to the need to replace them so often. Not included in the cost cap regulations, Krack asks why when no performance difference is seen:

“So in a cost cap world it’s a question that you have to ask – if it makes sense that you go with such complicated technology if there is no difference in performance?

“Every team is just writing off $8-9 million a year for gearboxes where there is no performance difference at all.”

FIA discussions

Given F1’s push for sustainability, Krack has revealed that discussions have begun with the FIA ahead of new potential regulation changes in 2026. The focus according to Krack is for “more cost-effective” gearboxes: “We have been in talks with FIA about if it does not make sense to go simpler, go more cost-effective on gearboxes, with simpler technology, and also maybe less units per year that you would need in an attempt to just make the whole sport more sustainable,” said Krack.

“The sum of the paddock [spending] is over $100 million a year. You could ask yourself, is that needed, if you look at other categories?

“So that’s that was the reason why we are in talks and why I think as a sport we have to ask these questions, and think about is it making sense that we make things a bit simpler?”

“I think the list could be long. There can be a healthy compromise between keeping some kind of technology. Take F1 differentials for example, which are unique compared to other categories.

“Seamless is something that you can discuss, the amount of gears you can discuss, or you can introduce some level of standardisation.

“I would not go as far as saying a common gearbox for everybody, or the same gearbox for everybody, but design specification or stuff like that, just to cut the costs down.”

Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur has also weighed in on the argument, agreeing gearbox cost changes are a possibilty for 2026: “The regulation about transmissions and so on, for sure, we can try to find something a bit simpler,” he noted. “But we have also the cost cap and that you can’t play on both sides. I think the cost cap, if everybody respects the cost cap, is enough for me.”

Feature Image Credit: @autosport on Twitter

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