2010 Malaysian GP opening Lap
Wikimedia Commons/ Morio

The return of racing: an F1 2024 season preview

The Formula One season is back again and there are some thrilling things to watch out for! With the grid completely unchanged, many will be waiting to see what will happen in the next season, and looking forward to the return of the Chinese Grand Prix, a new sprint format, plus possible challengers against the dominant Red Bull team.

The 2023 season saw Max Verstappen emerge as a three-time world champion, winning an astounding 19 races, as Red Bull won the constructors championship. The season was relatively “boring” given that Max and the Milton Keynes team were so dominant, however there were highlights in the season: Oscar Piastri winning a sprint race, Carlos Sainz being the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race, the introduction of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and many others. It will be interesting to see what the 2024 season provides; McLaren battled Red Bull from mid-season onwards – perhaps they find early form this year and take the battle to Red Bull from the start.

The season will open in Bahrain, though testing will happen the week before which will be the first time we see all 20 cars out on the track. It should be exciting to see how the cars perform and whether any car could be a thorn in Red Bull’s side. However, teams may “sandbag” – purposefully underperform to hide how good they are – which may provide an unclear picture.

F1 2024 could take a number of different directions – perhaps Red Bull will have another season of domination, or maybe another team and driver can become a worthy challenger

Two months later, Formula One will return to China (where they have not raced since 2019) for the first sprint race of the season. Sprint formats have changed from last year – practice 1 and sprint qualifying will take place on the Friday, the sprint race will take place Saturday morning and then general qualifying in the evening, before the Grand Prix is held on Sunday as usual.

There has been some worry and controversy surrounding the new format; most importantly, if a driver has an accident during the sprint race, that may affect them during qualifying which consequently will disadvantage them for the main race.

Given that the driver line-up this year was unchanged, the market is wide open for next year. During winter break it was announced that Lewis Hamilton would be leaving his home team of Mercedes to drive for Ferrari in the 2025 season – perhaps the biggest piece of F1 news in modern times, if not of all time.

However, this means that Carlos Sainz will have to find a new team for the 2025 season. There are rumours already swirling that he might drive with Stake F1 for a year before they become Audi, whereas others say he might drive for Visa Cash App RB (formerly Alpha Tauri) given that he has connections there. The second Mercedes seat is also open with Hamilton’s departure.

Another off-season story has been Guenther Steiner’s departure as team principal of Haas , and subsequent replacement by Ayao Komatsu. The American team is arguably one of the weakest on the grid so it should be intriguing to see whether anything changes under the new boss.

Ben Famin will be continuing his role at Alpine after taking over from Otmar Szafnauer mid-season last year, and Laurent Mekies will be taking over for Franz Tost at the rebranded Visa Cash App team.

In the Red Bull principal seat, Christian Horner has recently been under investigation for “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female employee. A small hearing took place February 9, but nothing much really came out of it. It was later revealed that Horner was willing to pay a small settlement fee, however, the employee hasn’t taken it so the case might go further. In fact, several officials have advised Christian Horner to step down from his role so the season might see some potential interesting changes. As the case continues, we can only hope that the employee gets all the help she needs.

As we approach testing and a new season of Drive to Survive comes out, F1 2024 could take a number of different directions – perhaps Red Bull will have another season of domination, or maybe another team and driver can become a worthy challenger. One thing that can be guaranteed is excitement from the off once the lights go out in Bahrain.


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