Sunday, April 14, 2024

2024 F1 season preview: Crew previews, testing recaps, questions that may dominate the season, and predictions


Method 1 is again.

However in some ways, it appears nothing has modified.

For the primary time within the historical past of the game, the very same driver lineup that completed the 2023 season will take to the grid to start out the 2024 marketing campaign. As an alternative of a “foolish season” crammed with driver motion, all 20 drivers are again in the identical seat to start this yr.

Giving it a really acquainted really feel because the yr beckons.

What additionally feels acquainted? The notion that everybody is chasing Max Verstappen. “Ominous” was one of many main phrases used to explain what we noticed throughout pre-season testing final week, as Verstappen and the RB20, Purple Bull’s challenger for the 2024 season, appeared dialed in all through the week.

Maybe extra ominous? Verstappen’s declaration that the RB20 is “for certain” higher than the RB19, one of the vital dominant automobiles within the historical past of the game.

The subsequent few months will settle whether or not Purple Bull actually is forward of the sphere, and in that case how the pecking order will get sorted behind them. However it’ll additionally form how the grid seems to be when 2025 begins. With greater than half the grid — 13 drivers to be precise — set to see their contracts run out on the finish of the 2024 season, many drivers are combating for his or her F1 futures this season.

Then there may be the matter of Lewis Hamilton, set to embark on his last yr at Mercedes earlier than he strikes to Ferrari for 2025.

So sure, F1 has a well-known really feel to it forward of the 2024 season, and we may even see a well-known face on the entrance all yr lengthy.

However so many issues are about to vary.

Crew-by-team previews

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 3

Photograph by Mark Thompson/Getty Photos

Can Haas take a step ahead as a brand new period begins?

Large adjustments have come to Haas in the previous few days, not solely with the departure of Steiner, but additionally the departure of Simone Resta, the group’s Technical Director. Ayao Komatsu steps into Steiner’s position, having beforehand served because the group’s Director of Engineering.

That transfer shines a light-weight on the place the group wants to enhance.

As famous above, one-lap tempo was not the issue for Haas, however race tempo definitely was. Waiting for their 2024 challenger, they should do higher on this division, and to keep away from the tire degradation points that plagued them a season in the past. When reviews of Resta’s departure surfaced, there was hypothesis {that a} distinction between Resta and Gene Haas, the group’s proprietor, was on the coronary heart of the state of affairs. Resta wished to deal with improvement for the VF-23 throughout final season, whereas Haas wished to forge forward with a imaginative and prescient just like Purple Bull’s RB19 for the 2024 marketing campaign.

When you find yourself the one signing the checks, you get to make the large choices.

They’ve two succesful, veteran drivers, and a automobile that at occasions carried out properly on Saturdays. If they’ll kind issues out for Sundays, they’ll climb out of the cellar.

If not …

Learn the Haas preview right here.

Sauber is a group in transition

Like each different group on the grid, Stake is seeing their 2023 driver pairing return for the 2024 marketing campaign. Bottas is getting into the third and last yr of his present deal, and Zhou signed a one-year extension with the group. However with the upcoming transfer to Audi, each drivers — in addition to the group at giant — will likely be beneath strain to cut back the hole between them and the remainder of the sphere.

Learn the Stake F1 Crew Kick Sauber preview right here.

VCARB on the entrance foot?

As for the way the group will fare on the monitor, having the driving force pairing of Tsunoda and Ricciardo in place to start out the season ought to put them on the entrance foot. The group has determined to forge forward with veteran drivers, moderately than utilizing these two seats as extra of a proving floor for Purple Bull.

Then there may be the thrill about their 2024 challenger, which is rumored to be implementing many options and parts of the RB19. That might additionally see the group on the entrance foot to start out the 2024 season, though it has led to some complaints from different groups — most notably Zak Brown at McLaren — concerning the relationship between Purple Bull and their sister group.

Learn the Visa Money App RB F1 Crew preview right here.

How excessive can Williams climb?

Nonetheless, there are dangers. Development and improvement are usually not linear, and whereas expectations will likely be in place for Sargeant to have a stronger sophomore season, which may not come to fruition. Whereas Williams is receiving their justifiable share of expectations in the meanwhile, nothing issues till the stopwatch is operating.

That could be why the group in latest days began to downplay ideas of a transfer greater up the desk. In an interview with Auto Motor und Sports activities, Vowles outlined that combating with Alpine and Aston Martin won’t be within the playing cards for them in 2024. “That’s not life like,” mentioned Vowles when requested about difficult these two groups forward of them. “I do know the true hole between the 2 groups and I do know our velocity of improvement. What we wish to change remains to be too distant to permit us to take this step subsequent yr. I’m assured that we’ll be higher off subsequent yr. However I gained’t do something that jeopardizes our long-term aim.”

Nonetheless, that was in line what what he was saying a yr in the past, earlier than they delivered their stunning seventh-place end.

Learn the Williams preview right here.

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 3

Photograph by Philippe Nanchino/Eurasia Sport Photos/Getty Photos

Can Alpine escape the center?

When you think about how a lot time they have been shedding every lap with the A523, the actual fact Alpine managed to complete sixth is nearly spectacular. They’ve an skilled driver pairing, and if they’ll extract extra energy — and higher lap occasions — from the A524 than its predecessor, they might definitely enhance their standing subsequent season.

If not, nonetheless, it might be one other yr that finds them caught within the center.

Learn the Alpine preview right here.

Can Aston Martin determine the mid-season improvement window?

The group hopes that the selections made down the stretch in 2023 will repay in an enormous means, not simply in the beginning of 2024, however all through the whole season.

“We recognised that we wanted to do one thing that was going to show us classes for 2024 and we did. And I believe to come back out of that having achieved good performances in the direction of the top of the season, culminating in a podium in Brazil and [fifth] place [in the championship], which was an important consequence for us, after which to come back out of that after which to clearly have that momentum going into this yr, I believe that was the actually key bit for us,” added Fallows. “Having been by means of that course of and persevering with that momentum into ’24, I believe provides us plenty of confidence going into this season.”

Improvement is the vital subject going through Aston Martin this yr. They began 2023 on the fitting notice, however light down the stretch. If they’ll maintain tempo with their rivals with upgrades all through 2024 to the AMR24, they could be capable to maintain tempo with them on the monitor as properly.

Learn the Aston Martin preview right here.

Will McLaren maintain the momentum going?

Their sturdy closing stretch has given the group a ton of momentum heading into 2024, however the largest query is probably going this: Can they begin on the entrance foot with the MCL38, and never on the again foot as they did a season in the past with the MCL60?

We’ll get our first solutions to that in pre-season testing in a couple of brief days.

Nonetheless, Stella is optimistic.

“I’m definitely happy that we’ve been capable of make vital steps ahead after a troublesome begin to 2023 from a reliability perspective,” mentioned Stella in a bit on the McLaren web site. “I’m happy, not as a result of I have a look at the outcomes, however as a result of I have a look at the work that we now have put into the technical reliability, particularly. By way of trying on the organisation and the working mannequin of how we cope with reliability, we now have deployed extra forces and construction on reliability.

“We’re engaged on additional evolutions when it comes to the way in which we have a look at reliability, which we’ll carry into the long run. And, we now have additionally added some extra folks to work on reliability.”

If the group has gotten it proper with the MCL38, and so they actually begin on the entrance foot?

Be careful.

Learn the McLaren preview right here.

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 3

Photograph by Philippe Nanchino/Eurasia Sport Photos/Getty Photos

Does Ferrari have one thing with the SF-24?

“With the SF-24 we wished to create a very new platform and in reality, each space of the automobile has been redesigned, even when our start line was the event path we adopted final yr and which noticed us take a leap ahead when it comes to competitiveness within the last a part of the season,” mentioned Enrico Cardile, the group’s Technical Director – Chassis. “We’ve got taken on board what the drivers advised us and turned these concepts into engineering actuality, with the intention of giving them a automobile that’s simpler to drive and subsequently simpler to get probably the most out of and push it to its limits.

“We didn’t set ourselves any design constraints apart from that of delivering a robust and trustworthy racing automobile, which might reproduce on the race monitor what we now have seen within the wind tunnel.”

If the SF-24 lives as much as expectations, Ferrari followers have cause to be excited. Mix a robust challenger with the consistency of Sainz, and the maturity we noticed down the stretch, and you’ve got a profitable mixture.

Learn the Ferrari preview right here.

Is the W15 the sendoff Lewis Hamilton is hoping for?

For Wolff, who has lengthy maintained that failure is a essential prerequisite to success, the struggles with each the W13 and the W14 could very properly repay with the W15.

“Because the saying goes: when it stings, it sticks. I consider the earlier two years have been essential for us to readjust, recalibrate and reinvent ourselves in sure areas. That root-and-branch strategy isn’t straightforward,” mentioned Wolff on the launch of the W15. “However we’ve made progress and look ahead to taking the subsequent step with the W15. It gained’t be a linear path, however once we stumble, we’ll get again up and maintain climbing.”

Improvement is just not linear … that sounds acquainted.

So there could very properly be cause for optimism at Mercedes, given their new path.

But, there may be nonetheless the looming specter of Hamilton’s departure, which is able to possible overshadow each second for the group this yr. There may be cause for optimism on the monitor, however how will (gestures within the basic path of every thing else occurring at Mercedes proper now) impression their season?

Learn the Mercedes preview right here.

Main low season information

Lewis Hamilton to drive for Ferrari in 2025

A transfer to Ferrari for Hamilton would characterize not only a seismic shift within the sport, however it might even be a reunion for the seven-time Drivers’ champion. Early in his profession, when Hamilton was competing within the decrease ranges, he drove for Frederic Vasseur’s groups. Hamilton drove for Vasseur’s ASM and ART groups when he gained the Method 3 Euroseries and the GP2 championship in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

Vasseur is now the Crew Principal at Ferrari.

Why Lewis Hamilton is headed to Ferrari

There may additionally be a way in Hamilton’s thoughts that he wants to offer this a shot. Maybe he feels that his run at Mercedes has taken its course, and with the group seemingly plateaued these previous few years, now’s the time to make such a daring transfer earlier than the window closes, and the chance is behind him.

Lastly … it’s Ferrari. Past the memes about technique and unhealthy pit stops and the like, it is among the largest manufacturers in motorsport. A legendary title in F1. That’s onerous to show down.

Hamilton to Ferrari is harking back to Michael Schumacher, by James Dator

The information that Lewis Hamilton is transferring to Ferrari in 2025 is sending seismic waves by means of Method 1, as we put together for the primary time in over a decade he gained’t be on the wheel of a Mercedes. As jaw-dropping because the report was, it’s additionally stunning in its symmetry with the F1 legend to whom Hamilton is so usually in contrast.

Who may change Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?

If you’re one of many Method 1 followers who get pleasure from “foolish season” as a lot — if no more — than the motion on the monitor, then the 2023 season will need to have been a moderately uninspiring affair for you. Not solely was Max Verstappen dominating on the monitor, however when the mud settled on the finish of the 2023 season, all 20 drivers have been set to return for 2024, a primary for the game.

Nonetheless, you might be in luck expensive reader, as a result of the foolish season is ready to achieve new heights this yr.

Not solely are 13 drivers on contracts set to run out on the finish of 2024, however now one of many most-coveted seats within the sport is up for grabs for 2025. With the stunning information that Lewis Hamilton will go away Mercedes on the finish of the season and drive for Ferrari in 2025, a spot with the Brackley-based operation is out there.

Who’re a number of the choices for Mercedes in 2025?

Guenther Steiner out at Haas

Steiner has been with the group since its inception and helped construct the American-based F1 group from the bottom up. Steiner recruited most of the group’s preliminary members to Haas and has been serving because the Crew Principal since their first season, in 2016.

Steiner has additionally change into one of many extra well-known figures in F1, because of a star flip prompted by the Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive. He was a featured participant relationship again to the primary season of Drive to Survive, and final season opened with him and former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto touring to one in every of Binotto’s vineyards in a tiny Fiat.

Now, each are out of F1.

A Monday in NYC with Williams

Finally, the principle questions that Sargeant must reply come on the monitor. Getting a second yr in F1 was not a given, and the announcement didn’t come till after the season had ended. So I requested: What does a profitable season appear like to him?

That’s when the arrogance and willpower that Vowles spoke of actually got here by means of.

“It’s at all times one of many hardest questions in the beginning of the yr as a result of we don’t know the place we’re going to be as a group. So I’m going to depart that out of it as a result of, you recognize, we’ll in the end discover that out in Bahrain,” mentioned Sargeant.

“However, personally, it’s fairly easy.

“I wish to make an enormous step ahead from a private side. I wish to carry out persistently over the course of a season on the degree I do know I can carry out at,” continued Sargeant.

“And if I try this, that’ll be an enormous success.”

Pre-season testing recaps: Winners or employees?

F1 followers got their first style of what to anticipate final week. Over three days at Bahrain Worldwide Circuit, all ten groups put their 2024 challenger by means of the paces. Now, forward of the season-opening race on the identical circuit, the groups are pouring by means of each bit of information, making an attempt to extract each doable millisecond of time from their automobiles.

How did the groups fare? What groups look to be beginning 2024 on the entrance foot, and what groups have plenty of work — and sleepless nights — forward?

Earlier than we shut the e-book on pre-season testing and shift our focus to the beginning of the 2024 Method 1 season, it’s time to take one last have a look at what we noticed over three days at Bahrain Worldwide Circuit.

Once more, the standard warnings about studying an excessive amount of into pre-season testing apply. Groups are operating totally different packages, utilizing totally different gas hundreds, and working at totally different engine ranges, so it’s onerous to gauge an excessive amount of from the occasions over three days of labor.

However forward of the 2024 season, it does look like some groups are beginning out on the entrance foot, and different have plenty of work to do.

Listed here are the “winners and employees” from 2024 F1 pre-season testing.

Learn our full F1 pre-season testing recap right here.

30 questions that may form the 2024 F1 season

Top-of-the-line phrases I’ve ever heard to explain F1?

The notion that what’s about to happen is a “voyage of the unknown.”

You hear this usually forward of races, notably if climate is anticipated or groups are uncertain of how tire put on will unfold. Purple Bull Crew Principal Christian Horner, for instance, loves to make use of the phrase forward of a race.

In that vein, we would have extra questions than solutions because the 2024 season beckons.

Listed here are 30 questions that may form the 2024 F1 season, one for every driver on the grid, and one for every group.

Haas

  • Have they solved their tire degradation woes from 2023?
  • Can Kevin Magnussen match his teammate in qualifying this yr?
  • Can Nico Hülkenberg ship race outcomes that match his qualifying tempo?

Sauber

  • Is the C44 actually an enormous step ahead from the C43?
  • Can Zhou Guanyu solidify his spot in F1?
  • Will Valtteri Bottas’ race outcomes match his helmet recreation?

VCARB

  • Will their 2024 challenger stay as much as the expectations set throughout pre-season testing?
  • Will Yuki Tsunoda get pleasure from his first F1 podium?
  • Will Daniel Ricciardo do sufficient to earn his “storybook” ending?

Williams

  • Will the FW46 be a extra constant automobile than the FW45?
  • Can Alexander Albon enhance on a powerful 2023 season?
  • What does Logan Sargeant, 12 months Two appear like?

Alpine

  • Have they solved their energy unit deficiencies from 2023?
  • Can “Estie Bestie” get again to a podium?
  • Will Pierre Gasly get a podium of his personal in 2024?

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 3

Photograph by Philippe Nanchino/Eurasia Sport Photos/Getty Photos

Aston Martin

  • Has Aston Martin discovered mid-season improvement?
  • Can Lance Stroll maintain up his finish of the cut price?
  • Will Fernando Alonso lastly get pleasure from his thirty third victory?

McLaren

  • How far forward are they from final yr?
  • Will Lando Norris win his first F1 grand prix?
  • What does Oscar Piastri’s sophomore season appear like?

Ferrari

  • Is the SF-24 as sturdy because it appeared throughout pre-season testing?
  • Has Charles Leclerc change into a pacesetter?
  • How does Carlos Sainz Jr.’s last season at Ferrari unfold?

Mercedes

  • Is the W15 nearly as good because the group hopes?
  • Can George Russell change into “driver one” at Mercedes?
  • What does Lewis Hamilton’s last Mercedes season appear like?

Purple Bull

  • Has Adrian Newey performed it once more with the RB20?
  • Can Sergio Pérez maintain onto his seat?
  • Can anybody catch Max Verstappen?

2024 F1 season predictions

Now we shut issues out with some predictions which can be certain to be fallacious.

Constructors’ Championship predictions

1. Purple Bull
2. Ferrari
3. Mercedes
4. McLaren
5. Aston Martin
6. VCARB
7. Williams
8. Alpine
9. Sauber
10. Haas

Drivers’ Championship top-five predictions

1. Max Verstappen
2. Charles Leclerc
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Lando Norris
5. Sergio Pérez

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