Will Red Bull simply race ahead of others this year as well? Source: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Will Red Bull simply race ahead of others this year as well? Source: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Season Preview | The most important thing is that nothing has changed. Oh yeah… Hamilton!

F1 OlyBet 29.02.2024

The new F1 season kicks off this weekend in Bahrain. What has happened between the two seasons and what to expect from the year ahead – we’ll now analyze in more detail.

Let’s start with the driver line-up. For the first time in history, it is the same as at the end of last year. Even though so many guys had their contracts expire after last season, the teams still decided to stay loyal to the current drivers.

It was the biggest relief for Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Zhou Guanyu and Carlos Sainz, who were in the greatest danger of being relegated. True, Sainz still got the sack in a way, but more on that later.

F1 2024 driver line-up:

  • Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez
  • Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell
  • Ferrari: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz
  • McLaren: Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri
  • Aston Martin: Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll
  • Alpine: Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly
  • Williams: Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant
  • Visa Cash App: Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo
  • Stake: Valtteri Bottas ja Zhou Guanyu
  • Haas: Kevin Magnussen ja Nico Hulkenberg

The important thing is that there are no changes

Moving on from the drivers to the technical conditions, the biggest news here is that nothing has changed. Although it seems like a standstill, it could actually be good for the F1 series.

In the series, it has historically been the case that the longer and more unchanged certain rules remain, the more equal the teams become and the tighter the line becomes.

However, this means that the dominance of Red Bull, which completely ruled last year’s series, could be 1) smaller 2) completely non-existent this year, if you look at the progress made by the McLaren team in the second half of last year.

Besides, since it is a technical field, it can’t be ruled out that a new team will rise to the top. Let’s remind ourselves of the year 2009 and the Brawn GP, when a clever interpretation of the rules by the Japanese engineer allowed them to clear the field in the first half of the year and thus lay the foundation for Jenson Button’s World Championship title.

There were changes, but elsewhere

This does not mean that the godfathers of the series sat on their hands and applauded, saying “Oh, how well our series is doing”. Some things did change though, largely due to the grumbling of the teams.

For example, weekends that included sprint racing were seriously remodelled. If last year at these competitions the whole of Saturday day was spent doing sprints, then this year the plan is as follows: free practice is planned for Friday, followed by free practice. On Saturday, first, the main qualification and then the sprint race are scheduled. The main race is, as always, on Sunday.

Such a change will affect the six competition locations where the sprints take place: China, Austria, Brazil, Qatar and the USA (Miami and Austin).

Longest calendar and new names

Now that we’ve already reached the end of the calendar, this year’s F1 season is the longest in history, consisting of 24 stages. Such was the plan indeed supposed to be last year as well, but then the GPs of China and Imola were cancelled – the first due to the restrictions of COVID, the second due to extensive flooding. This year, however, both are scheduled again, and they will race in China for the first time since 2019.

One thing that still needs some getting used to with the upcoming season is the team names. Red Bull is still Red Bull, but their daughter team AlphaTauri is Visa Cash App RB instead. Another major change occurred with Alfa Romeo.

Their previous (name) deal with Sauber has ended, and the latter will start preparing to move under Audi in 2026. Until then, however, the team will be called the Stake F1 Team due to sponsorship deals. Of course, if the gambling rules of the venue allow it.

If not, they’ll just talk about Sauber, which is why we are certain at this point, that commonly it is Sauber that the talk is always about.

What were the tests about?

The F1 series got its unofficial kick-off last week when the pre-season tests took place in Bahrain. Although the most talked about thing there, were the broken sewer hatches, which robbed the teams of sweet racing time, the teams still managed to do one or the other.

Haas completed the most laps, 441 – which translates to 2,386 kilometers, followed by Ferrari (416) and Red Bull (391). Williams (299 laps) managed to get the least amount of test information under its belt.

In terms of time, the Ferrari men showed the best time during the three days: Sainz (1.29.921) and Leclerc (1.30.322), but as we know, this does not mean too much.

Why? Simply put, no one, apart from the teams themselves, knows what kind of pieces were tested, what tires were on the track, how full was the tank, etc.

Oh yeah, that Hamilton transition

Since not much has happened given the new F1 season – we emphasize once again that this is rather a good thing! – then we will finally focus on 2025.

Namely, Lewis Hamilton gave us a surprise bomb at the end of January when he announced that he intends to cancel his contract with Mercedes after this season and move to Ferrari next year.

This transition proved that even though Ferrari has not won anything in the premier series for 15 years – the last team title was in 2008, and the individual title in 2007 – it has not diminished their mythical aura in any way.

Another reason why Hamilton was eager to get into the red car could also be hidden in the mid-season tests, where the Briton saw that Mercedes was simply not as competitive as he would have liked.

But above all, it was still about Ferrari’s aura and red color, which attracts formula racers like flies.

“Every driver has the idea of one day driving a Ferrari,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said five years ago. Or as four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said: “Everyone is a Ferrari fan. Even if they say no, they’re still Ferrari fans.”

Because it’s just that simple.

F1 2024 calendar

  1. Bahrain GP (March 2nd)
  2. Saudi Arabia GP (March 9th)
  3. Australia GP (March 24th)
  4. Japan GP (April 7th)
  5. China GP (April 21st)
  6. Miami GP (May 5th)
  7. Emilia Romagna GP (May 19th)
  8. Monaco GP (May 26th)
  9. Canada GP (June 9th)
  10. Spain GP (June 23rd)
  11. Austria GP (June 30th)
  12. Great Britain GP (July 7th)
  13. Hungary GP (July 21st)
  14. Belgium GP (July 28th)
  15. Netherlands GP (August 25th)
  16. Italy GP (September 1st)
  17. Azerbaijan GP (September 15th)
  18. Singapore GP (September 22nd)
  19. Austin GP (October 20th)
  20. Mexico City GP (October 27th)
  21. Sao Paolo GP (November 3rd)
  22. Las Vegas GP (November 23rd)
  23. Qatar GP (December 1st)
  24. Abu Dhabi GP (December 8th)


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