Although almost all the seats for next season have been taken, Mike Krack admits that the 2026 overhaul will play a significant role as drivers look to their futures.
2026 not only sees a new set of rules for the chassis but for the engines also, and as a result it is a step into the unknown.
It was Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda who persuaded Lewis Hamilton to leave his comfort zone of long-time backers McLaren for 2013, confident that the Hybrid era to be introduced in 2014 would favour Mercedes. They were right, and until recently the British driver has never looked back.
However, as we have seen with the turnaround by Honda, not to mention teams like Aston Martin and McLaren, things change, and consequently this will play a part when drivers come to considering their long-term futures… or at least those who have ambition.
“These days just opening a wallet of money is not any more an argument or not a major… it is an argument definitely, but the drivers these days, and especially their management, they’re asking many more questions than this,” says Aston Martin boss, Krack.
“I think the power unit is playing a substantial role,” he admits, “but I think also the track record and also I think the current status is always playing a role and is factored in.
“I think the whole convincing bit is much more difficult because there was only a few top drivers or that the drivers that everybody wants to have and you have to have a proper set of presentations and arguments ready to convince them.”
“There’s no crystal ball for 2026,” adds Christian Horner, whose Red Bull Power Trains will be taking one of the biggest steps into the unknown. “Who knows who’s going to be competitive?
“There’s going to be completely new chassis regulations, complete new aerodynamic philosophy so the chassis is going to play a key role, the engine is going to play a key role with the split between electrification and combustion and fuel is going to play a key role in that as well.
“So for us, starting from scratch, it’s our biggest risk and it’s our biggest opportunity so it’s going to be an interesting journey and I’m sure all the engine manufacturers are working incredibly hard. We’ve got new manufacturers coming in and Audi as well. But it is a significantly different challenge to the current set of PU regulations.”
“On our side, I think we are very happy with our drivers and this is not our first concern,” insists Alpine’s Bruno Famin, parent company Renault having badly misjudged the 2014 rules overhaul and still trying to catch up.
“Our first concern is to extract the best possible from the team… the best possible performance and to develop the best possible power unit. I’m talking about the power unit for 2026.
“The goal is to develop the best possible power unit. One thing after the other. We are happy with the drivers we have now and let’s build a good package.”