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F1 preview 2024: the longest ever Formula One season awaits

Our guide to all the teams and drivers for the the 2024 Formula One World Championship season

The 2024 Formula One season is nearly upon us, and there’s only one question on everyone’s lips: can anyone beat Max Verstappen? The Dutchman is on the verge of becoming an all-time F1 great, but there is a range of talented youngsters and two hugely experienced multiple world champions who want to end his and Red Bull’s dominance.

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Who’s most likely to challenge for the crown, and what changes for 2024 will influence how the season pans out? Read on below for our highlights the main things to look out for.

More races than ever

Expect to see lots of exhausted faces in the paddock in 2024, with the F1 circus set to travel to 24 different destinations this year; that’s two more than in 2023 and more than any other season in F1 history. While the first race starts this weekend in Bahrain, the season won’t close until F1 returns to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 8 December.

The two additions to this year’s calendar are both returning races; the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is back in the calendar after severe flooding around Imola forced the race to be cancelled last year, while the Chinese Grand Prix takes place in April in Shanghai after a four-year Covid-enforced hiatus.

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Two weeks ahead of the Chinese round will be the Japanese Grand Prix, which moves from its typical slot towards the end of the season to round four in the calendar. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix moves in the other direction, and will take place on 15 September.

Sprint weekend overhaul

Of those 24, the rounds in China, Miami, Austria, United States (Circuit of the Americas), Sao Paulo and Qatar will all host sprint weekends. The sprint format has been tweaked for this year; previously, drivers would dive into Friday qualifying for the main race following just one on-track practice session, with Saturday dedicated solely to the sprint race.

This year, however, the first day will host one free practice and sprint qualifying, with the sprint race taking place the following morning, ahead of qualifying for the main race. It’s worth noting some subtle calendar tweaks elsewhere, too. Traditionally, full races take place on a Sunday, but this year those held in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas are all Saturday races. As before, the sprint winner takes eight points, counting down to a single point for the driver in eighth position.

Small regulation tweaks

As with the teams and drivers, many of the regulations have remained fairly stable moving from 2023 to 2024, but there are one or two minor changes to look out for.

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The one which will likely have the most potential to influence the spectacle comes with the DRS regulations. Previously, drivers would have to wait for two laps following a race start or restart before they could open the flap in their rear wing to increase top speed and close in for an overtake. This has now been reduced to a single lap.

At certain races this year, the most eagle-eyed fans might spot an extra vent or two pop up around the driver’s cockpit. This change enables more cooling for the driver – an allowance made following the sweltering Qatar Grand Prix last year. A longer calendar means more power units; each driver has an allocation of four, up from three previously.

New team bosses

While the driver market is remaining very stable, the team principal line-up is almost unrecognisable from as recent as 18 months ago. Ferrari, Williams and Sauber all appointed new bosses ahead of 2023, and 2024 will see just as many changes.

The news that Bruno Famin, who took on the role of Alpine team principal in July, will continue full-time was confirmed back in February, while Ayao Komatsu replaces the departing Guenther Steiner at Haas. Ferrari’s former racing director, Laurent Mekies, moves 60 miles down the road from Maranello to Faenza as he heads up the newly rebranded Visa Cash App RB squad.

Guide to the teams & drivers

For the first time in the sport’s history, every driver who finished the previous season will return in the same seat for the next.

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That stability in the driver market might suggest a similar end result in 2024, but stability in the technical regulations will give a chance for the chasing pack to close in on the dominant Red Bull team. Here are this year’s runners and racers.

Red Bull Racing

Engine:Honda RBPT
Races:370
Wins:113
Titles:6
Last year:1st

This season should have kicked off with an incredible amount of optimism for Red Bull, having come off its most dominant season ever with the third consecutive world championship for Max Verstappen and the second constructors’ championship in a row. However, the controversy surrounding team boss Christian Horner following serious allegations around his conduct is, at the time of writing, still ongoing.

Regardless of the immediate future of the team principal, Red Bull is once again going into a new season as clear favourite. Only a rare off-colour performance in Singapore prevented the team from winning every single race in 2023, and such a dominant car in the early stages of the year will have given the Milton Keynes-based squad plenty of time to focus on its latest challenger, while rival constructors are still trying to close the gap. Will Verstappen and Red Bull reign supreme in 2024? It would be a bold call to bet against it.

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Drivers

Max Verstappen

Races:185
Wins:54
Titles:3
Last year:1st
Age:26

It would take a staggering turnaround from rival teams to prevent Verstappen from ending 2024 with the same number of world titles (four) as Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel. Expect a tough season ahead for everyone else.

Sergio Perez

Races:257
Wins:6
Titles:0
Last year:2nd
Age:34

After four races, Perez looked like a genuine title contender in ’23, but from there he dropped drastically back from the dominant Verstappen. Perez needs to be closer to  him this year, because rival teams are sure to have closed the gap.

Mercedes-AMG

Engine:Mercedes
Races:293
Wins:125
Titles:8
Last year:2nd

The 2023 season confirmed that the period of Mercedes dominance in Formula 1 is finally over, and following the seismic news that Lewis Hamilton will be leaving the team for Ferrari at the end of the season, one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the sport is finally coming to an end. All parties are sure to want to finish their relationship on a high, although an all-new concept for the W15 car leaves room for uncertainty leading into the new year.

They have the right drivers to deliver though. Despite rarely having the second-fastest car at any point last year (or even the third fastest at some times) the drivers, led by a typically dogged performance from Hamilton, dragged the W14 to the end of 2023 second in the constructors’ standings.

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There were a few glitches along the way – most notably Hamilton colliding with teammate George Russell in Qatar, a race in which their pace was stronger than at any other point in the 2023 season. But Mercedes executed the whole year better than anyone other than Red Bull.

Should Mercedes hit the ground running with its new design concept (one which more closely aligns with the title-winning Red Bulls of previous years), then there’s every chance that the Brackley-based squad will be able to bounce back from its first winless season in the sport since 2011.

Drivers

Lewis Hamilton

Races:332
Wins:103
Titles:7
Last year:3rd
Age:39

Following his shock announcement that he’ll join Ferrari for 2025, Hamilton will be determined to end his brilliant Mercedes relationship on a high. His relentless pace helps him grind out results even when the car isn’t quite there.

George Russell

Races:104
Wins:1
Titles:0
Last year:8th
Age:26

With Hamilton departing at the end of the year, British driver Russell will want to put together a cleaner season than last to prove that he should be the undisputed Mercedes team leader going forward.

Ferrari

Engine:Ferrari
Races:1,076
Wins:243
Titles:16
Last year:3rd

In 1988, McLaren won all but one race, a feat that Red Bull repeated last year. In both cases, it was Ferrari that broke the invincible streak. Aside from the astounding performance of Carlos Sainz to take the team’s sole 2023 win in Singapore, being a Ferrari fan last year proved to be just as frustrating as the fast four or five. Stunning bouts of speed, which secured seven pole positions, were often undone by poor strategic calls, unreliability or, on rare occasions, driver error.

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The Scuderia has stolen many pre-season headlines by signing Lewis Hamilton for 2025 and beyond, but in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, it can still call upon one of the sport’s strongest driver line-ups. If Ferrari executes a perfect season and the SF-24 has the pace, it’ll be in the frame for a title fight.

Drivers

Charles Leclerc

Races:123
Wins:5
Titles:0
Last year:5th
Age:26

Leclerc’s case for being considered the fastest qualifier in F1 was bolstered by a series of stunning single-lap performances in 2023. If Ferrari can deliver a more consistent race pace, he will be at the sharp end once again in 2024.

Carlos Sainz

Races:183
Wins:2
Titles:0
Last year:7th
Age:29

Sainz has proven a fierce competitor against teammates as talented as Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc during his F1 career, yet still somehow finds himself needing to prove himself worthy of a top seat in 2025.

McLaren

Engine:Mercedes
Races:950
Wins:183
Titles:8
Last year:4th

McLaren had a dramatically contrasting season of two halves in 2023. It started the campaign with one of the slowest cars on the grid and for the first eight races, even scoring points was a struggle for the young and extremely talented driver pairing of Britain’s Lando Norris and rookie Australian team-mate Oscar Piastri.

However, a significant update introduced at the Austrian Grand Prix transformed the team’s fortunes. First time out with the revisions, Norris took fourth place in qualifying, and held position for the race. Over the remaining 13 races, he took seven podiums and scored more points than any driver other than Max Verstappen.

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Piastri also scored a couple of podiums following the updates, the highlight of his year coming in Qatar, when he managed to brilliantly fend off a charging Verstappen to take the sprint-race victory. If McLaren is able to carry that second-half form through into 2024, it could be the first team to challenge Red Bull’s dominance.

Drivers

Lando Norris

Races:104
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:6th
Age:24

At only 24 years old, Norris still has plenty of time to grow as a driver. This, given his 2023 form, is an ominous sign for rivals moving into the 2024 season. Prodigious speed is backed up by an almost complete lack of driver errors.

Oscar Piastri

Races:22
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:9th
Age:22

Piastri proved himself the real deal in his debut year, scoring more points than any F1 rookie since Lewis Hamilton. Despite his obvious talent, he’ll still be keen to reduce the edge that Norris held over a race distance.

Aston Martin

Engine:Mercedes
Races:72
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:5th

Aston Martin proved to be the surprise of the paddock during the early stages of 2023. A strong start saw Fernando Alonso taking third place for the squad on his debut, while Lance Stroll, despite still recovering from injuries sustained in a cycling accident, was sixth. Alonso went on to scoop six podiums in the first eight races.

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But Aston lost its way somewhat through the mid-season, taking a direction with the AMR23 that caused Alonso and particularly Stroll to struggle. A brilliant second place in the changeable conditions of Zandvoort and a stunning defensive drive to fend off Sergio Perez in Brazil weren’t enough to stop Alonso slipping behind Lewis Hamilton in the final driver standings, while the team slumped to fifth overall.

Drivers

Fernando Alonso

Races:377
Wins:32
Titles:2
Last year:4th
Age:42

At 42 years old, Alonso has raced in F1 since before McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was even born, yet he claims that he is fitter than ever before. With a great car under him, there’s no doubt that the Spaniard could launch a title offensive.

Lance Stroll

Races:143
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:10th
Age:25

Going against one of F1’s all-time greats in the same car was never going to be easy, but Stroll needs to show more than occasional flashes of speed and give Alonso a tougher test in 2024 if he’s ever to be considered a credible driver in F1.

Alpine

Engine:Renault
Races:66
Wins:1
Titles:0
Last year:6th

The merry-go-round of team management at Alpine continued into 2023, when Ottmar Szafnauer, who had not long been team principal himself, was sacked after the Belgian Grand Prix. Following brief tenures for Marcin Budkowski and ex-Ducati MotoGP team boss Davide Brivio, new team lead Bruno Famin is Alpine’s fourth principal since 2021.

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He takes control of a squad that fell into a no-man’s land in 2023. The Enstone team finished in sixth place and comfortably clear of the four teams behind, yet scored fewer than half the points that Aston Martin chalked up across the year. Alpine will need to make a huge step forward to challenge the front runners.

In the French duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, the Enstone team has two of the most closely matched drivers on the F1 grid. Both had stand-out performances last year, with Ocon taking a superb podium at the Monaco Grand Prix, while Gasly claimed a podium place of his own in the chaotic weather conditions of Zandvoort.

Drivers

Pierre Gasly

Races:130
Wins:1
Titles:0
Last year:11th
Age:28

Gasly will be satisfied with his 2023 performance, having walked into the Alpine team and outscored team-mate Ocon at the first attempt. He’ll be looking for more podiums this time around.

Esteban Ocon

Races:133
Wins:1
Titles:0
Last year:12th
Age:27

There wasn’t much in it, but Ocon will be determined to prevent Gasly beating him again in the driver standings this year. He’ll want fewer retirements in 2024, too. With six in total, he had more than any other driver in 2023.

Williams

Engine:Mercedes
Races:803
Wins:114
Titles:9
Last year:7th

Williams is entering a new era, and that optimism showed last year, when the team appeared to show signs of turning around a few seasons in the doldrums. After the appointment of James Vowles as team principal – who, as motorsport strategy director, was instrumental in keeping Mercedes at the peak of its powers for so long – the team has found a new direction. Moving from Mercedes has enabled Vowles to pinpoint the areas in which Williams needs to improve in order to challenge at the front again, and as such, its new car will be a departure from the FW45 that scored 28 points in 2023.

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That car showed excellent straight-line speed, but struggled on more technical tracks, so Williams will look to build a stronger all-rounder this year. Maintaining the services of Alex Albon, who scored all but one of the team’s points in 2023, will prove to be a solid benchmark from which to assess how far Williams has come.

Drivers

Alexander Albon

Races:81
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:13th
Age:27

Albon frequently challenged for points last year, putting in some impressive individual performances. With the driver market up in the air, a strong 2024 could land him a top seat.

Logan Sargeant

Races:22
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:21st
Age:23

Comprehensively outperformed by Albon last year, it’s hard to see Sargeant maintaining a seat in F1 much longer unless his performances significantly improve over the coming season.

Visa Cash App RB

Engine:Honda RBPT
Races:0
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:8th (As Alpha Tauri)

The somewhat awkwardly rebranded Visa Cash App RB squad, formerly known as Alpha Tauri, which was formerly known as Torro Rosso, is a team that aims to distance itself from its previous Red Bull B-team billing. With that comes a shiny new livery, but still the Honda RBPT hybrid powertrain that it used the season before.

The squad will be looking for a little more stability in its driver line-up to help it push forward this year. Following the rather abrupt dumping of 2022 Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries 10 rounds in, the return of the ever-popular Daniel Ricciardo was cut short after the Australian broke his hand in a qualifying crash for the Dutch Grand Prix. That saw Kiwi youngster Liam Lawson acquitting himself brilliantly for five races before Ricciardo’s return for the final rounds of the year. Ricciardo takes the seat permanently this time around, alongside Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda.

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Drivers

Yuki Tsunoda

Races:63
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:14th
Age:23

Tsunoda put in some decent, if not outstanding performances last year. Having Ricciardo as a benchmark – and whether he can beat the Australian or not – will likely make 2024 a pivotal season for him.

Daniel Ricciardo

Races:239
Wins:8
Titles:0
Last year:17th
Age:34

A Daniel Ricciardo firing on all cylinders is an exciting, formidable opponent. Whether we get the Ricciardo of old, or the one who struggled during his time at McLaren, will have a big bearing on the entire team’s fortunes.

Kick Sauber

Engine:Ferrari
Races:214
Wins:10
Titles:0
Last year:9th

A rebranding for Sauber is only temporary – the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber name is essentially a placeholder before the squad becomes a fully factory-backed Audi squad from 2026, a change that has naturally led Alfa Romeo to withdraw from its partnership. Among all the liveries on the grid, the lurid green flashes on the body of the new C44 will make it easy to spot during a race.

Whatever the team is called, the new backers are bringing in lots of funding, which the squad will use to improve the Hinwil team’s infrastructure before the German giant wades in with its full force. And it can’t come soon enough; last season was underwhelming for Sauber, with its handful of points finishes throughout the year barely enough to keep it from propping up the constructors’ standings. With Valterri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu remaining for the third year running, the squad has a mix of youth and experience.

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Drivers

Valtteri Bottas

Races:222
Wins:10
Titles:0
Last year:15th
Age:34

Bottas seems to be a different and altogether more relaxed driver following his departure from Mercedes. His one-lap pace is rarely in doubt, and strong form will put the Finnish driver in contention for a 2026 Audi seat.

Zhou Guanyu

Races:44
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:18th
Age:24

Zhou ran his more experienced team-mate close in 2023, but had only a trio of ninth-place finishes to show for it. Young Sauber starlet Theo Poruchaire waits in the wings, so Zhou needs to do something special this year.

Haas

Engine:Ferrari
Races:166
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:10th

Haas will be bracing itself for a difficult 2024. Following a turbulent winter for the squad after the sudden departure of fan-favourite team boss Guenther Steiner, it will be a year to hold onto the tail end of the field under new principal Ayao Komatsu, who was Steiner’s former second-in-command.

Komatsu will have a tough job on his hands to turn around last year’s form, where the cars often showed top-10 single- lap pace, but were blighted by high tyre degradation in races.

An experienced driver line-up of Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen is carried over, which should ensure some stability.

Drivers

Nico Hulkenberg

Races:203
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:16th
Age:36

With the 12th-best average starting grid position of 2023, Hülkenberg’s single-lap pace was only just behind the Alpine drivers’. If Haas improves its tyre-wear issues, The Hulk will be in the running for points finishes this season.

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Kevin Magnussen

Races:163
Wins:0
Titles:0
Last year:19th
Age:31

Only street tracks brought the Dane joy last year, with 10th-place finishes in Saudi Arabia, Miami and Singapore. Both over a single lap and across a race distance, his team-mate Hülkenberg had an edge in 2023.

2024 race calendar

RoundGrand PrixDates
1Bahrain Grand PrixFebruary 29-March 2
2Saudi Arabian Grand PrixMarch 7-9
3Australian Grand PrixMarch 22-24
4Japanese Grand PrixApril 5-7
5Chinese Grand PrixApril 19-21
6Miami Grand PrixMay 3-5
7Emilia Romagna Grand PrixMay 17-19
8Monaco Grand PrixMay 24-26
9Canadian Grand PrixJune 7-9
10Spanish Grand PrixJune 21-23
11Austrian Grand PrixJune 28-30
12British Grand PrixJuly 5-7
13Hungarian Grand PrixJuly 19-21
14Belgian Grand PrixJuly 26-28
15Dutch Grand PrixAugust 23-25
16Italian Grand PrixAugust 30 – September 1
17Azerbaijan Grand PrixSeptember 13-15
18Singapore Grand PrixSeptember 20-22
19United States Grand PrixOctober 18-20
20Mexico City Grand PrixOctober 25-27
21Sao Paulo Grand PrixNovember 1-3
22Las Vegas Grand PrixNovember 21-23
23Qatar Grand PrixNovember 29-December 1
24Abu Dhabi Grand PrixDecember 6-8

Who do you think will win the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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