Latest News

2024 Formula 1 season preview: The chase to catch Red Bull is on

February 28th, 2024

Max Verstappen is the driver to beat for the Formula 1 world title. (Photo by Ayman Yaqoob/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Can anyone keep up with Red Bull?

That’s the biggest on-track question heading into the 2024 Formula 1 season opener at Bahrain after Max Verstappen won his third consecutive driver’s title in remarkable fashion.

Verstappen put together the most dominant season in F1 history over 2023 with 19 wins and 21 podium finishes over 22 races. He had an average finish of 1.3 and his lone finish outside the top three came in Singapore when he finished fifth.

The RB19 was an extraordinary car that won 21 of the season’s 22 races as Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez scored two wins and finished second in the points standings.

Red Bull’s 2024 car is designed to capitalize on the success Red Bull has had since F1’s regulations changed ahead of the 2022 season. The team usurped Mercedes at the top of the F1 heap after cars had to be redesigned for new rules and specs after the 2021 season and there are some significant changes to this year’s Red Bull car.

The biggest visual change fans will notice is to the side pods. They’re much smaller this year — similar to the small pods that Mercedes tried in 2022 and 2023. Of course, Mercedes struggled with the small side pod design. It seems doubtful that Red Bull will thanks to the baseline of success the team has already established with this car platform.

A preseason testing a week ago, Red Bull looked the quickest team once again. It’s hard to read too much into testing because there are so many variables and teams are experimenting with anything and everything they can to get a better read on their cars. But it’ll be a significant surprise if Verstappen isn’t the driver to beat over the course of the race weekend in Bahrain.

Off the track, the biggest storyline swirling around Red Bull is the status of team principal Christian Horner. Horner has been accused of inappropriate behavior by a female Red Bull employee and was the subject of an independent investigation into the accusations. Horner has denied the publicly unspecified allegations.

There had been suggestions that Red Bull wanted the investigation and the subsequent decision wrapped up before the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend and F1 has even publicly said that it wants the matter resolved as soon as possible. But the first practice of the season is just hours away. Horner was at preseason testing. Barring a decision that doesn’t go in his favor ahead of the race weekend, he’ll likely be in attendance and in his usual role.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team during Day Three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team during Day Three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton has won six of his seven championships with Mercedes. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton’s final year at Mercedes

Mercedes held off Ferrari for (a distant) second in the constructor’s standings to Red Bull in 2023. What the team lacked in raw pace it made up for with consistency and reliability. Lewis Hamilton failed to finish just one race while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had seven DNFs between them.

The two teams look set to be the two main Red Bull chasers again in 2024 as Hamilton will move from Mercedes to Ferrari at the end of the season.

Hamilton’s shock departure from Mercedes comes after he signed what was reported to be a two-year contract extension with the team during the 2023 season. That contract had an out clause, however, and Hamilton took advantage of it to sign with Ferrari as he chases his record eighth world championship.

It’s reasonable to wonder if Hamilton made the move from Mercedes because he believed Ferrari was best positioned to challenge Red Bull in the years to come. After eight straight constructor’s titles from 2014-2021, Mercedes has one race win over the past two seasons.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023. And he’s the man making way for Hamilton in 2024. It’s a prove-it year for Sainz at Ferrari with an open seat at Mercedes and Audi’s arrival in F1 to join forces with the rebranded Sauber team in 2026. Can he finish ahead of Leclerc in the standings?

Is McLaren’s 2023 improvement a sign of things to come in 2024?

McLaren was out to lunch to start the 2023 season. Lando Norris had a miserable start to the season with four 17th-place finishes over the first seven races of the season and a best finish of sixth.

But things turned around for Norris after a 13th-place finish at Montreal. Over the final 14 races of the season, Norris finished in the top eight all but once thanks to an early crash because of a mechanical failure at Las Vegas. He posted six second-place finishes in that span.

Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri also benefited from McLaren’s improvement as the season went on, but not as much as Norris did. Piastri scored two podiums and had nine top 10s over the final 14 races of the season.

The speed over the second half of the season meant McLaren finished the season a comfortable fourth in the constructor’s standings and barring any surprises, it’s heading over another top-four finish in 2024.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Sparks fly behind Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Sparks fly behind Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Aston Martin was fast to start the 2023 season but didn’t keep up with everyone else’s rate of development. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Can Aston Martin rebound?

As McLaren struggled early a season ago, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was Red Bull’s primary challenger. Alonso finished in the top four in each of the first six races of the season and was second at Montreal.

But as McLaren surged, Aston Martin faded. Alonso kept putting together top 10s, but the third-place finishes fell to seventh and eighth-place finishes. After six podiums over the first eight races of the season, Alonso had just two the rest of the way.

Aston Martin’s early pace came from some, uh, technical inspiration from the 2022 Red Bull car. But the team’s updates didn’t do much to improve it, especially compared to Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren. Being able to keep up with everyone else’s upgrades will be key in 2024.

Who can make a move in the bottom half of the field?

If you’re looking for a team to jump up the standings this season, the former AlphaTauri team — now known as Visa Cash App RB — is the popular choice to make a move. VCARB is leaning heavily on its ability to get information from Red Bull Racing, and both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda looked quick in preseason testing.

Alpine will also be eying a better 2024 after a disappointing 2023. Esteban Ocon failed to finish on the lead lap in nine races a season ago and he combined to score just 120 points and two podium finishes with teammate Pierre Gasly.

2024 Formula 1 schedule

  • March 2: Bahrain Grand Prix

  • March 9: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  • March 24: Australian Grand Prix

  • April 7: Japanese Grand Prix

  • April 21: Chinese Grand Prix

  • May 5: Miami Grand Prix

  • May 19: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

  • May 26: Monaco Grand Prix

  • June 9: Canadian Grand Prix

  • June 23: Spanish Grand Prix

  • June 30: Austrian Grand Prix

  • July 7: British Grand Prix

  • July 21: Hungarian Grand Prix

  • July 28: Belgian Grand Prix

  • Aug. 25: Dutch Grand Prix

  • Sept. 1: Italian Grand Prix

  • Sept. 15: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

  • Sept. 22: Singapore Grand Prix

  • Oct. 20: United States Grand Prix

  • Oct. 27: Mexican Grand Prix

  • Nov. 3: Brazilian Grand Prix

  • Nov. 24: Las Vegas Grand Prix

  • Dec. 1: Qatar Grand Prix

  • Dec. 8: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
Disclaimer/Note: TGM Radio’s latest news posts are a collection of curated and aggregated, fresh content from the best news sources across the globe.

Tags:

Comments are closed.