Dre’s Guide To The 2024 F1 Season

A week of off-season chaos that has dominated the storylines heading into the quietest F1 season preview ever. Here’s Dre’s Guide to the 2024 F1 Season!

Never miss a post

Sign up for our monthly newsletter so you don’t miss any posts or updates!

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us. By subscribing, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with our privacy policy.

Read time: 19 mins

Welcome back to my Season Preview Season series! After MotoGP’s post went over pretty well, it’s time to move my focus onto the big one – Formula 1. And it’s a drab time to be getting into the sport. An off-season of largely negative stories, followed by testing that did nothing to reassure anyone we’re not getting a repeat of last year. Let’s try to make some sense of it all as F1 enters its flop era… depending on who you ask.

It’s amazing when you think about it. This was set to be the quiet F1 off-season in recent memory. 2024 will mark the first F1 season in its modern 75-year history that the sport has no rookie driver in it, and no driver transfers made in the off-season. And was looking like that was going to be the story… until the first in February when all hell broke loose in three massive stories:

Andretti Is Rejected… For Now: In a move that surprised little but angered most, Andretti’s application to join F1’s grid in 2026 was rejected. F1 cited many reasons, but the ones that jumped off the page were the fears about the potential lack of competitiveness and the lack of a power-unit supplier. They did leave the door open for Andretti to try again in 2028, the same time their engine supplier General Motors should have their power unit ready to go…

…But there was a twist in the story last week when General Motors admitted they had missed the deadline to apply as a power unit supplier for 2026, a mistake that almost certainly weakened their immediate case. It’s hard not to conclude that there are degrees of unseriousness from all parties.

F1 should NOT be rejecting Andretti’s case. They tick every box you could think of — Factory backing, prestigious American name, willing to pay the big bucks to get over the line. I’ve talked about the hypocrisy of F1 taking American money but not a team for some time, so I won’t repeat myself too much here, but some of the reasons F1 knocked them back were petty as shit. Saying they feared Andretti’s competitiveness out of the box, especially entering a new regulation change could have some premise as an argument… if Haas didn’t do the same when they entered F1 in 2015. 

Haas in general, I felt sorry for. They caught so many strays in the debate about their existence as a stick to beat F1 with. Contrary to what some on the Internet have said, Haas isn’t this super uncompetitive team bringing up the rear. They scored 12 points last season and were only four behind Sauber. Hulkenberg was genuinely really good dragging the car into strong Q3 appearances on multiple occasions.

Because Gene Haas has only just spent up to the cap this year doesn’t mean they should be used as the guinea pig for an 11th team, especially given the mess of the last 12-car expansion back in 2010 and the chaos that came with it. And no one was calling for the head of the Dorliton Captial F1 team when they were arguably worse for a couple of years prior.

The biggest problem with Haas in comparison to Andretti’s application is that the parameters have changed. F1 wasn’t getting $17bn valuations a decade ago. There wasn’t an anti-dilution fee back then, the sport wasn’t fed up with teams putting feelers about joining and nothing coming of it. And of course, Liberty wasn’t in charge. And Bernie, if nothing else, was always more keen to expand.

The sport now knows it’s worth a lot more than it was a decade ago, and they’re going to want to protect their bread as they inherit the US franchise model. It sucks to be Andretti but they’re going to have to make a watertight argument to break into that because simply put – they’re not wanted. Now we all know it.

Lewis Hamilton heads to Ferrari: A day after the Andretti news dropped, the biggest driver transfer story in F1 history slammed into existence out of relatively nowhere. Turns out Ferrari made two approaches for Lewis during 2023 that were initially knocked back but towards the end of last season, Hamilton came back to the table. 

My theory’s always been that the rough end to his 2023 was likely what soured him towards committing another two-plus years to a likely Mercedes rebuild. And if it’s true via the man himself that it was always a childhood dream to drive for Ferrari, entering his Age-40 season next year seems like it was just about the last chance for it. 

It’s a seismic move with a lot of branching paths. Ferrari putting together quite possibly the strongest driver lineup since Hamilton paired up with Alonso in 2007. A genuine superteam. But it pushes a solid driver in Carlos Sainz out into free agency for 2025, with not many wide-open seats available, and next to nothing at a similar level. Who does Mercedes bring in as Hamilton’s replacement? 2023’s silly season hardly existed. It was just saving its money to splash out big for 2024 instead. More on that later.

Christian Horner’s Investigation: Three days after that, it went public that Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was being investigated by the parent company (Actual Red Bull) for allegedly conducting “coercive and controlling behaviour” by a female employee, according to a Sky Sports report on the story.

Everything about this case so far has been murky. Horner was interrogated for several hours and had large amounts of evidence brought forth by a third-party barrister hired by Red Bull to conduct a full investigation… but they haven’t been named. De Telegraff in the Netherlands have stuck their heads above the parapet the most in this story’s progress, going as far as to call it “sexual harassment” and have texts to prove it, but obviously, they’ve not been published. 

Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press even went as far as to speculate that the Verstappen camp had leaked them in a deep power trip between the 51/49 split of the parent company between the Mateschitz family (now owned by Mark after Dietrich passed away last year), and Thailand’s Yoovidhya family who owns the other 51. 

Christian was front and centre at the team’s season launch in Milton Keynes and called the story “A distraction” from their pre-season, and he hasn’t been suspended as this trial continues, with no sense of how long it’ll take to complete. But the pressure is ramping up with F1, the FIA, their future power unit partners Ford and other senior bosses like Toto Wolff and Zak Brown all publicly calling for a fair investigation and for senior figures to “act right”.

It’s an ugly case, even more so as the news aggregators and the fans inevitably speculate over the story and what the outcome might be. A lot of it has been used as yet more brownie points in the ongoing pissing contest between groups of fans on social media. When really, all I hope is that the person who had the bravery to step forward against Horner gets all the support they need. It’s easy to forget in all the fury and speculation that a person has been accused of harassment in the workplace, something no one should ever have to experience. That should be the priority, not whether some rich and privileged team boss gets to keep his job or not.

Welcome to F1’s biggest-ever calendar. 24 rounds in total and a season that technically starts in February, and until the second week of December. Good god. 

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are now SATURDAY races to get them both done before their respective Muslim countries celebrate Ramadan on March 10th. There are three in total with Vegas keeping its late Saturday night slot. Japan is now in April to move away from its nasty Typhoon season spot in October. China is back for its first race since the pandemic and Zhou Guanyu finally gets his first home race. 

There’s now a Spain/Austria/UK triple header in June into early July, and Baku now closes out the European leg in the middle of September. There’s also a strange month-long Autumn break at the end of September before six races in the final seven weeks close out the year, with Qatar now in December to avoid a repeat of 2023’s horrendous heat-stroke issues. And I still can’t believe for the second time in three years, we’ll be racing less than three weeks before Christmas. And we wonder why Crofty’s missing time for the first F1 season he’s been a broadcaster since 2007.

Here we go again, all 10 teams for the 2024 season, their unchanged driver lineups and their 2023 Championship Standing in the Brackets while I break down their respective chances. Roll titles! 

Well, it’s impossible to talk about Haas without talking about the other major off-season story. In what seemed to be a dispute about how to take the team forward, in a genuine shock, Gunther Steiner walked away from the team and Ayao Komatsu now takes over with Gene Haas insisting that “engineering is at the focal point of the team”. Wonder if that was a thinly veiled jab at the way Steiner’s star power grew via “Drive to Survive”. 

In any case, if the stories are true that Steiner was pushing for more investment and Gene didn’t want to make it, the departing boss may have had a point. Haas weren’t terrible last year but they didn’t have much to write about in 2023 besides a handful of strong qualifying performances untangled by a fundamental misunderstanding of their tyres.

Now I’ll give them this, Haas has been pretty honest since Komatsu took over, openly admitting going into testing they expect to be at the back of the grid. And testing has shown… that’s pretty much accurate. Slow, not particularly good on the eye test either. But they were the unofficial testing champions with more laps logged than anyone else (441). This season is going to do little to shake the belief of the hardcore fans who want Andretti there instead, especially with Haas’ determination NOT to sell up. 

They have to get their tyre wear under control. I’m glad they’ve made clever savings so that they can finally spend the full cost-cap amount but more infrastructure investment needs to be made or else I can see this team spinning its wheels yet again. Remember, they’ve spent the last five straight seasons in the bottom three spots on the grid.

Nico Hulkenberg has been very solid since coming back but has been pretty openly intrigued about the possibility of the Audi project if they want another experienced veteran. Nico still has it without a doubt, but is he appealing going into his Age 37 season? And is Kevin Magnussen going to avoid being on the hot seat for the third year in a row after losing his last two teammate battles? Because Ollie Bearman getting six FP1 sessions this year says to me he’s been groomed for a race seat…

Welcome to the “flavourless reboots” section of the season previews. First up, the gamblers with Stake F1 Team, or Kick Sauber on the chassis name if they’re in a country with tighter gambling restrictions. One thing’s for sure though – The car’s green. Like, bogey green. Like, “You just just got slimed on Nickelodeon” green.

And honestly, there isn’t much to talk about with them. Their car was largely mediocre last year, with occasional bright spots but ultimately not much to report besides the countdown of what’s to come. Valtteri Bottas is game for a launch and 14 nude pictures of his bum a year but just how good is he as a veteran leader? And can Zhou Guanyu do enough to keep his seat with ALL the rumours pointing towards this team being the ideal landing spot for Carlos Sainz Jr given his pending free agency? 

In testing… I get the feeling there were some glory runs in there because I still think they’ll be in the lower-midfield scraps with Williams, Haas and our next team.

And yeah… Turns out Stake might not even have a license to trade in Sauber’s home country of Switzerland. Yikes. This team needs some good news, and quick. 

Oh boy. I hate that everything regarding this team in the off-season revolved around a name change that honestly… I don’t even hate all that much. Like, what kinda branding love did you guys have for “AlphaTauri” anyway? Dunno about you, but VISA is a pretty remarkable title sponsor to grab for a seventh-placed F1 team. And the throwback to the Red Bull Cola branding of Toro Rosso has been pretty cool. But that’s just me.

On paper, I think this is a team in good shape. This isn’t a Red Bull RB19 clone and it looks decent on track. And I think this is still the best driver pairing of the lower-midfield teams, with Daniel Ricciardo holding his own since coming back despite some awful luck, and Yuki Tsunoda looking as strong as he ever has in F1. I think given they were tracking more around fringe points at the end of 2023, if they can keep to that form, they could be giving Alpine a headache. 

But the driver security of the team is going to be the big talking point going forward – Is Daniel Ricciardo going to be heading to Red Bull for his 2018 homecoming tour? Is Yuki Tsunoda going to just be kept as a solid veteran driver, and does Liam Lawson find his way onto the grid after being half-promised a 2025 spot? 

And even more importantly – How much piss will Zak Brown boil if RB ends up good too?

Williams was arguably the surprise of 2023 with their best points haul since 2017 and some genuine hope with Alex Albon cracking Autosport’s Top 10 for his pound-for-pound brilliance and James Vowles’ new leadership galvanising a team that has massively underperformed its resources. Now comes the tricky part, sustaining that jump. I think the next step is challenging a newly recharged V-CARB team and seeing where they stack up against a problematic Alpine squad.

But there’s going to be bumps in the road here. Their testing was… problematic. Reliability concerns and Albon admitting that while they seemingly have fixed their issues from 2023, they’ve got new handling concerns with their 2024 car.

Then there’s the medium-term future. Vowles has already had to come out with a “hands-off” in regards to Alex Albon, who does have an option for 2025… but now a Mercedes seat alongside one of his best mates is open. If Albon can put together a second strong season in a row, he’d likely be in the driver’s seat for that Mercs drive, or maybe even a Red Bull return.

Vowles has also talked down the odds of bringing in Merc starlet Andrea Kimi Antonelli, talking up his academy instead (with some solid names there like Colapinto and O’Sullivan). Still, you don’t want to undermine your crop. However, if Mercs aren’t keen on him yet and need an outlet, Vowles would surely answer the phone, right?

And in any case, none of this can be confidence-building for Logan Sargeant’s sophomore season, given he barely survived the first. The reality is, in what could be a close-knit battle at the bottom if Sargeant can’t stay with Albon consistently, it’s a weakness in that team.  

I love that the car launch was the most high-profile part of Alpine’s off-season. Lying about the pink camo on their new car to ultimately reveal a largely unpainted carbon Horlicks with patches of pink and blue. I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to fan consensus on unpainted carbon fibre.

Anyway… Alpine is in a strange place right now. Their car on paper is solid with a good chassis that did punch above its weight at times in 2023. And their drivers are solid, with Gasly trading punches with Ocon from Day 1 at Enstone. But it’s always going to come down to that glaring weakness – their powertrain.

Otmar Szafnauer hinted at them being 30-35 horsepower down on the field last year and tried to coup an unfreeze on development that never went anywhere. And it’s still showing during testing, where Alpine are stuck in the middle of the field.

And this is the issue with this team. A clear step behind the next block of four contenders that are in a bar fight for second, but still comfortably better than the chasing pack. And I fear that amongst that chasing pack, V-CARB especially could be a threat. For a factory that sold assets to raise cash last year, slipping towards seventh would be catastrophic for the French team – their worst since they came back into the sport in 2016.

Whatever five-year or 100-race plan is being looked at, probably needs to be changed again, because it feels like Alpine’s going nowhere fast. 

And this is what I like to call the “Contenders Wing”, starting with Aston Martin, a team who took three steps forward in 2023, but ultimately one step back when they drove into the brick wall which was their development cycle. 

Fernando Alonso is for me, their biggest catalyst here. He’s seemingly happy after a brilliant 2023 campaign, proof of his excellence deep into his 40’s. But he made no secret of the fact he’s the only World Champion on the grid who’s a free agent at the end of the season. If he’s happy, and team principal Mike Krack is delighted with him, why hasn’t he signed a new deal yet? It smells a lot to me like Fernando is angling for a Mercedes move in what could be his last big push for a third-world title. And if you remember how Fernando got to Aston in the first place, pulling the wool over Otmar’s eyes when the latter was still Alpine boss, I’d take anything the man says with a grain of salt.

The car has gone under the radar a little bit. A part of me feels like that’s because they don’t have the element of surprise that came with their 2023 car but it looks like they’re blending into that similar group with Mercedes, but maybe on the lower end. Testing has been ho-hum. There’s nothing eye-popping about this year’s car so far but nothing that’s a real cause for concern.

Lance Stroll… man. It’s genuinely hard to talk about him with any kind of consequence because he’s just… here. Smack dab in the middle of the standings last year. Occasionally good, sometimes terrible, and now it’s Year 8 of his career and he’s just here because we know there’s no sense of jeopardy attached to his seat. If Aston Martin wants to be a serious team, they need to find better. They’re moving into their new factory later this year with a new windtunnel expected by the Summer Break. We still have the Honda deal due for 2026. So there is some degree of ambition, but keeping Stroll is going to be a hindrance. And they could lose Nando in 2025. Good luck to them, because I think they need an insurance policy. 

We miss you, Gil.

McLaren had arguably F1’s greatest in-season turnaround in 2023, turning 14 points by Austria into 300 at year’s end, trending to be the sport’s #2 team. And their drivers excelled in the circumstances, with Lando having a string of strong podium finishes and Oscar Piastri keeping pace with the Brit in favourable scenarios. 

Do you know what’s weird about McLaren here? They’ve also lost that element of surprise now, they went into this pre-season #2 in the sport’s power rankings, and Zak Brown has U-turned from his usual stance of tempering expectations. Last year, they talked about a B-Spec package early on and their poor Bahrain test reflected that. This year, they doubled down with their bold “Whatever It Takes” marketing campaign going into 2024… and then admitted that their new car still had bits to be working on. 

The test hasn’t been headline-moving either. McLaren seems to be right in the thick of a dogfight for second overall and I suspect they look a little behind Ferrari again. Reliability has been an issue too with Lando Norris losing his Day 3 to a faulty clutch. 

McLaren wrote a lot of cheques their arses now have to try and cash, and I’m not convinced their pen is working yet. They should be aiming for second given how the second half of 2023 went, and anything less is going to feel like a disappointment. You have resources, a new windtunnel, an excellent team principal, the best young driver pairing in the sport tied down until 2026… there are no excuses now. It’s time to push for the top again. 

PS: I love Oscar Piastri as much as the next guy, but the man needs to learn some tyre management if he wants to take that next step to race-winner status. And Lando needs to tone down that qualifying pace by 2%. They’ll be fine. Probably.

Well… anything interesting happen in Maranello this off-season? 

Ferrari didn’t enjoy 2023. Their car was a hot mess of a parting gift from Mattia Binotto but eventually, they built a car that seemed a bit more respectable. Charles Leclerc was cooking at the end of the season post-Japan upgrade and by the season’s end, Ferrari probably had the second-best car. It still had a sprinkling of the honse about it (the COTA DQ and the Brazil DNS), but there was some promise here.

And well, moves have been made. Charles Leclerc has been tied down for another long-term deal (Allegedly until 2028), and… Fred Vasseur might have a shot at being the next Pope given he’s brought in Lewis Hamilton for 2025. No biggie. 

Putting that to one side, Ferrari… looks good. Very good. They certainly passed the eye test with a solid-looking race car, a perfectly executed three days of testing, and a competitive set of times across the board. Less focus on their strong outright speed, and more on their long-run pace and tyre management, which looked solid. If I had to nail my flag to the mast today, I think they’re the second-best team in the field right now. I’ve seen enough to suggest there’s no way they’re a second off the Red Bull which some people in the paddock have hinted at. 

If Ferrari can comfortably win that dogfight for second and set themselves up for 2025 and the addition of Hamilton (Which however you slice it is better than Carlos Sainz), then maybe… just maybe… 

Well… anything interesting happen in Brackley this off-season?

Yeah, I mentioned this in my Hamilton piece in January. But morale can’t be great at Mercedes right now. A 2023 season that had them seemingly fall into second place but not do anything noteworthy to get it… besides ditching its zero sidepod concept and reshuffling its technical department. Welcome back, James Allison!

But finishing second and a distant second isn’t going to cut it with this team. And then Lewis Hamilton upped sticks and decided to leave just months after signing a two-year contract. Now I don’t think Mercedes should be torched for having Lewis Hamilton for only 11 years rather than 13, but it’s a hammer blow to the team knowing that their talisman didn’t want to stay knowing he’s entering the twilight of his career.

Their new W15 rolled up to Bahrain and was… fine? It seems to still be in that upper-midfield zone but didn’t move the needle beyond that. It looks like it’s going to be another year where Mercedes won’t be challenging for major honours, and their third in a row if that holds up. Brackley is serious about a reboot, with them pumping £70m into their facilities and turning their factory into essentially a village… but how appealing is that going to be when you’re fighting for the bronze medal? It’s like being a fan of Justin Gatlin during the Usain Bolt era. 

And then what do you do about your second seat? Do you go for the easy option in Carlos Sainz? Make a play for Alex Albon? Do you take Fernando Alonso as a placeholder? Or do you go all in for Andrea Kimi Antonelli if he’s halfway decent in F2? Toto Wolff has openly said he’s prepared to be “bold” with this hire. Let’s see what he chooses to do with that one as Mercedes as a factory enters its difficult third chapter. 

Beyond the obvious team boss appearance shock as Red Bull unveiled their RB20 a couple of weeks ago, there was one other interesting observation – A lot of drafting off the Mercedes W14, a concept that Mercs themselves ditched during the middle of 2023. At that same time, Adrian Newey gambled and changed concepts, fearing the field would catch up if they just pushed the previous RB19. Red Bull dumped all their limited CFD time into their new weapon. 

And it already looks like it’s business as usual for the reigning World Champions. A practically flawless test and a morale-shattering Day 1 time that was 1.1 seconds faster than the field. Paddock observers were in shock. Fernando Alonso implied everyone else on the grid already knows they’re not competing for the Championship this year. It wasn’t the speed of Max’s early runs that hurt the field. It was the ease with which the pace came. Red Bull is still likely leaving a lot on the table from Bahrain’s test and the field seems genuinely rattled.

So yeah, if you want me to give you any kind of hope here… you’re reading the wrong season preview. The only disruption likely will be seeing if they’re saying goodbye to Christian Horner. And even then, with a strong sporting director like Jonathan Wheatley and Newey still in the camp… is he even needed? Red Bull’s such a well-oiled machine at this point, that it may not even matter.

The only intrigue will likely be over their second seat. Sergio Perez needs to comfortably finish second in the Championship to silence any doubt over his future because Red Bull has a literal trio of options to replace him when the Mexican’s contract expires at season’s end. For one of the greatest cars in history, Checo didn’t drive like he had one. Don’t give Milton Keynes a reason to sack you, big man. 

It’s not going to be a matter of if Red Bull wins the title – The question will be, can they go one better than last year and achieve F1’s first perfect season?

If you want my general tier list for the state of the field, it looks like this to me:

Red Bull are still the class of the field. Ferrari might steal another win here or there if they can stay close enough to punish any Red Bull errors, but I think it’s still reasonably close between them, McLaren and Mercedes.

I think Aston Martin is a little in no man’s land, half a step behind that block, but I’d still take Fernando ahead of V-CARB and Alpine, with the French being arguably the hardest team to place. Beyond that, I fear Williams will backslide a little here back towards Stake and Haas, who didn’t show anything in testing to give me confidence in their setups.

I’m picking Max Verstappen and Red Bull to four (and three)-peat respectively and cement his status as one of the greatest of all time. I think Charles Leclerc will end up the best of the rest, with four or five pole positions and maybe even one or two wins if Ferrari doesn’t honse this up. I normally pick a breakout star for 2024, and if I had to guess – I think Yuki Tsunoda is due for a big season. He showed genuine promise in 2023, getting results out of a horrible AlphaTauri and then taking good chunks of points at the end once the upgrades racked up.

But I’m not going to lie to you and pretend like this is an exciting time for the sport. Hell, Drive to Survive Season 6 launched the day I was finishing the draft copy of this piece and even that felt somewhat stale because so many of 2023’s storylines got buried under the off-season wave of chaos. There’s a good chance Max runs this field over again and it’s an absolute momentum killer for a sport that was entering murky waters on and off-track. F1 is still a mess from an image standpoint, the DTS spike won’t last forever, and no sports causal audience is more sensitive to dominant spells than F1’s. And Max Verstappen isn’t Lewis Hamilton, who was able to stem that tide with activism, genuine rizz and some actual competition beneath the surface. 

This isn’t quite F1’s flop era yet, but this is going to feel like a very long season if the last month has been anything to go by. See you on track this weekend for the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

Motorsport101 uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Click here to read more.


What are you looking for?