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2024 Formula One Season Preview - What to expect

Jim K 02/29/2024
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Formula 1 race

 

The Formula One 2024 campaign is nearly upon us, featuring a record-breaking 24-race calendar, 20 drivers, 11 race winners, 10 teams, six sprints, and three world champions. The sport's growing popularity and global fanbase will see 21 countries host a Grand Prix weekend over 11 months in a long year of racing.

F1 2024: Talking Teams

It all begins in Bahrain, the site of February's three-day pre-season test, and the island country is where fans will get the first idea of 2024's pecking order. Testing suggested reigning champions Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen will be in charge once again, with the question being whether anyone can stop a clean sweep of victories for the duo.

Formula 1 race

 

Ferrari seemed to have some promising pace, with McLaren also continuing their upward trajectory from 2023's back half. Mercedes will try to bounce back for a third successive year after the team's first winless season in over a decade, but their era of domination is rapidly fading into history.

Away from the frontrunners, two new team names and liveries will greet fans at the curtain-raising round. Alfa Romeo ended their naming partnership with Sauber, and the team will sport a luminous green for 2024 as Stake F1, or Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber, to give their full name. Somehow, even that sponsorship exercise pales compared to AlphaTauri's new moniker, the Visa Cash App RB Formula 1 Team, as Red Bull's second entry reverts to its previous blue-white-and-red colors.

Formula 1 race

 

Elsewhere, Williams has far more sponsors as the team continues rebuilding after reaching rock bottom. Haas is under new leadership with Ayao Komatsu after Guenther Steiner unexpectedly left the American squad in January. Alpine will try to steady the ship after a turbulent revolving door of personnel in 2023. And Aston Martin will seek to recapture their podium-finishing ways from last season's opening rounds.

Expect Driver Drama in 2024

Verstappen looks as strong as ever and will take some beating by the sport's other 19 racers. There are no driver moves between the teams or other racing series between 2023 and 2024, and the 20-strong line-up of the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP will race for their same employers for Round 1 and beyond.

Formula 1 race

 

It's an unprecedented phenomenon in F1's 75-year history but something that won't happen in 2025. Hamilton's Ferrari switch leaves the driver market in a mouthwateringly fluid state for the 2024 season, and the jigsaw puzzle of moves is something we'll see evolve all year.

The seven-time champion's departure from Mercedes marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for him. Hamilton follows in Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel's footsteps — a champion heading off to wear red. From a wider lens, though, the move triggered a domino effect in the driver market, with teams scrambling to secure their line-ups in the wake of such a consequential landscape change.

Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris are two names not in focus for the upcoming silly season, with both men signing extensions for Ferrari and McLaren, respectively, in the days before Hamilton's announcement. The Spanish duo of Alonso and outgoing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz are two of the chief contenders in the running to occupy the second Mercedes seat alongside George Russell.

Formula 1 race

 

Sergio Perez also doesn't have a contract for 2025, and driving alongside Max Verstappen in the class-of-the-field Red Bull car would be a top target for all the drivers looking to advance their careers — something the Mexican will need to prove isn't necessary. Irrespective of any expected one-driver domination this year, 2024 will be a shop window for most racers hoping for a top team to choose them over their competitors.

F1's Future in Focus

The growing strain between Formula One and the FIA poses another off-track narrative for the 2024 season. As the sport continues to evolve, disagreements over its governance and the future direction of F1 have continued dogging the relationship between the two. As ever in this unique sport, more intriguing entertainment may happen outside of the in racing 2024 rather than in it.

Toto and Susie Wolff's conflict of interest FIA investigation that created controversy at the end of the 2023 season was another skirmish between the governing body and the sport to close out the year with. F1 rejecting Andretti Autosport's entry to join the grid, despite the FIA's approval, showed 2024 would be no different. It seems inevitable that another FIA vs F1 spat is waiting around the corner.

Rumors of a Chicago GP, in what would be the fourth race in the USA, also show a focus shift, with more American racing and street tracks. The long-standing Barcelona-hosted Spanish GP will wave goodbye to a dedicated racetrack for 2026 in favor of a city circuit in Madrid. Should Chicago join the fun, it'd be another tilt to the sport taking to public roads rather than traditional circuits. Expect some announcements this year that suggest how different future calendars will look.

Back to 2024, though, China returns after its Covid-induced absence, and Imola will again host the Emilia Romagna GP after last year's floods. This season, the sport has tried to reduce the strain on teams and employees by better grouping races by geography. Japan and Azerbaijan are the most notable changes, with Suzuka moving forward to April and Baku coming later in September. A month in the Americas before a Middle Eastern doubleheader finale will round out the 24-race championship on December 8th.

Whether it's the battle at the sharp end, the intrigue of the driver market, or the evolving landscape of team and F1's identities, there's no shortage of drama on the horizon. As teams and drivers prepare to face the longest season ever, there's plenty to keep an eye on for the millions of fans around the world for F1 2024.


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