Jenson Button urges Formula 1 bosses to make a significant rule change

Jenson Button urges Formula One bosses to make a significant rule change that ‘every driver would hope for’ – but 2009 world champion outlines a major caveat

  • Formula One replaced naturally-aspirated engines with hybrid units in 2014 
  • The sport will be even more reliant on electric energy from 2026 
  • Button hopes sustainable fuels could lead to combustion engines returning

Jenson Button wants to see combustion engines reintroduced in Formula One, provided they can be run on sustainable fuels.

The sport bid farewell to naturally-aspirated V8 engines nine years ago and replaced them with 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 power units which are supported by energy recovery systems that the drivers can deploy.

Formula One’s so-called ‘Hybrid Era’ will enter a new phase from 2026, with cars to be powered by new engines running on sustainable fuels but with a higher proportion of electrical power.

Button has backed the sport’s push to become more environmentally friendly and believes sustainable fuels could pave the way to a return to combustion engines, which would improve both the quality of racing and the sound of the cars.

Speaking at the Goodwood Revival earlier this week, the 2009 world champion suggested running combustion engines on sustainable fuel would represent a perfect solution for the sport.

Jenson Button has called for Formula One to reintroduce combustion engines as long as they can be run on sustainable fuels

‘I love that we’re pushing different technologies and I love that we’re pushing EV, hydrogen, but for me the most exciting has to be sustainable fuels because I love a combustion engine,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘I think every driver would hope [that Formula 1 will return to combustion engines], we just love the sound of the engines and I think it doesn’t matter how quick the car is if it sounds good, the fans love it as well.’

To ensure it meets the targets set in its 2030 ‘Net Zero Carbon’ project, in 2026 Formula One will introduce a new carbon-free fuel to cut fossil fuel carbon emissions to zero.

And Button believes the introduction of sustainable fuels could have a revolutionary impact not just on Formula One, but on car roads as well.

‘We have to be doing the right thing as well, and if we can work with sustainable fuel and we think it’s the right direction, the great thing is we have three different options for the future in terms of road cars and racing cars,’ he said.

‘The sustainable fuel one is the most exciting for people who are in this business already. 

‘We love the sound of a revving engine, we love how it feels underneath you in terms of the feeling you get from it, so if we can work that out that’s great.’

As part of the rule changes in 2026, Audi and Honda will join Formula One as engine manufacturers.

Formula One cars are powered by 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 power units which are supported by energy recovery systems that the drivers can deploy

The sport last used V8 combustion engines back in 2013 after introducing them in 2006

Cars will also be fitted with MGU-K (or Kinetic Motor Generator Unit) capable of producing three times the amount of electrical power produced by the current hybrid components.

The higher proportion of electrical power means less fuel will be used overall – approximately 70kilograms per race, compared to 100kg in 2020 and 160kg in 2013 – but the power units will still provide over 1,000 horsepower.

Speaking to Autosport in January, Formula One chief technical officer Pat Symonds said the new engines regulations were aimed at levelling the playing field.

‘We set a lot of high-level objectives with the new regulations, and one of the high level objectives for the 2026 power unit was to level the playing field for newcomers,’ he said.

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