While Red Bull continues to be ahead of the pack, Ferrari has made moves to get closer to them. Source: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
While Red Bull continues to be ahead of the pack, Ferrari has made moves to get closer to them. Source: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Who has taken the biggest step forward in F1? And who has taken a step back?

F1 OlyBet 22.03.2024

Although only two stages of this year’s F1 season have been run – which is obviously too few to draw any fundamental conclusions – certain patterns of dominance can be seen. Olybet.TV will take a look at which teams did their homework the best between the two races.

Since no rule changes were made during this year’s off-season, the start of the year looks very similar to how the previous one ended.

Red Bull continues to be majorly ahead of the others, and next best is Ferrari, who have added two stable races this year to their familiar qualifying speed from last year. At the same time, it is worth emphasising that even in time trials, the gap with Red Bull is smaller than last year.

RB took a step ahead, Alpine took a step back

Red bulls and simply reds – that’s what Red Bull and Ferrari are called – are followed by Mercedes and McLaren, which are still difficult to distinguish from each other. Aston Martin, the comet of the start of last season, has also made steps forward, but compared to its competitors, those steps have turned out to be smaller.

The only team that has lost speed compared to the beginning of last year is Alpine: they were, for example, 0.3 seconds slower compared to last year’s qualifying in Saudi Arabia.

The biggest improvement compared to last year has been made by McLaren and RB, but it’s a bit deceiving in the case of McLaren, as they already found their speed in the middle of last season when they came out with significant updates for the Austrian and Singapore GP times.

Comparisons of qualifying times 2023 vs. 2024.

  • Red Bull: Bahrain (-0.6s), Saudi Arabia (-0.8s)
  • Ferrari: Bahrain (-0.85s), Saudi Arabia (-0.7s)
  • Mercedes: Bahrain (-0.8s), Saudi Arabia (-0.5s)
  • McLaren: Bahrain (-1.5s), Saudi Arabia (-1.2s)
  • Aston Martin: Bahrain (-0.8s), Saudi Arabia (-0.8s)
  • Alpine: Bahrain (-0.1s), Saudi Arabia (+0.3s)
  • Williams: Bahrain (-1.2s), Saudi Arabia (-1.0s)
  • RB: Bahrain (-1.3s), Saudi Arabia (-1.4s)
  • Haas: Bahrain (-1.0s), Saudi Arabia (-0.4s)
  • Sauber: Bahrain (-0.7s), Saudi Arabia (-0.3s)

At this point, however, it is worth emphasizing that the above-mentioned only speaks of the qualifying speed of the machines, i.e. one so-called ideal lap. In a competitive situation, the performances of the teams are often different, because then their endurance and handling on different circuits also play a role.

For example, on the smooth track and fast corners of Jeddah, Mercedes clearly had problems, and Ferrari and McLaren both showed them what they were worth.

It also matters a lot who is really between the wheel and the seat, because as two-time world champion Fernando Alonso vividly proves, with experience it is sometimes possible to squeeze a lot more out of the machine.

Melbourne surprises

By the end of this week, the lines of force in F1 will be a little clearer again, because the teams are waiting for the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia. What to expect from the Australian GP?

Returning to the F1 calendar in 2022, the revamped circuit has so far offered some pleasant surprises and drama. Two years ago, Charles Leclerc, who started from the best starting position, was faster there, while Max Verstappen was sidelined due to technical problems.

Last year, the Dutchman did triumph, but in an extremely chaotic race, where red flags were repeatedly waved and where only 12 machines finally crossed the finish line.

Verstappen’s record repeat?

Considering this year’s race, the biggest favourite is Verstappen, who can repeat his record of consecutive stage wins in Australia. The previous record, set at the beginning of 2023, is ten.

And although it would be nice if it was not so predictable – unless Red Bull’s engine flies into the sky or, speaking of the sky, it starts to rain, then probably that’s how it will go anyway.

Australian GP qualification is on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. On Estonian time, the race starts at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning.


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