Kurt Verlin
No Comments

Formula 1 2024 Season Primer: Everything You Need to Know

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

The upcoming Formula 1 season is almost upon us. Here’s what you should know about the 2024 F1 calendar, teams, drivers, and regulation changes.

F1 2024 Car Reveals

F1 car development can take a long time. Many teams began working on their 2024 designs just about as soon as the 2023 season kicked off. After a relatively brief winter, they’ll be unveiling their new cars throughout the month of February. Some teams only do a virtual reveal, and some are known to show only a different spec than the one they bring to pre-season testing or even to the first race. So don’t expect anything too exciting, especially because the specs have hardly changed from 2023.

Still, it will mark the true beginning of the media season, as analysts and pundits try to make predictions by poring over every detail of the new cars. It’ll also be the first we see of some new liveries. Here’s when the teams are expected to make their reveals.

  • Feb 5: Kick Sauber
  • Feb 5: Williams
  • Feb 7: Alpine
  • Feb 12: Aston Martin
  • Feb 13: Ferrari
  • Feb 14: Mercedes
  • Feb 15: Red Bull Racing
  • TBD: AlphaTauri
  • TBD: Haas F1
  • TBD: McLaren

F1 Pre-Season Schedule

The pre-season gives teams the chance to get valuable real-world data from their new cars, as on-track testing is otherwise banned. They get nine hours on each of the following days:

  • Feb 21
  • Feb 22
  • Feb 23

F1 is an unusual sport where, outside of competition weekends, teams and drivers don’t get to truly practice their craft. Instead, they rely on advanced wind tunnel tests and simulations. The pre-season is not just our first look at how the cars may perform at the start of the season, but also the teams’. They’ll be hoping their simulations map onto the track.

Don’t get too eager to make predictions based on lap times, though. Reliability and consistency tend to be the stronger correlates to early-season performance.

Netflix Drive to Survive

Drive to Survive is a dramatized documentary series that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the F1 season that took place in the previous year. The first series, which covered the 2018 F1 season, is partially credited for the sport’s rising popularity in the U.S. Other American sports leagues are now attempting to copy the formula, including the NBA, MLS, and NASCAR.

Last year, Drive to Survive Season 5 dropped on the last day of pre-season testing. Season 6 is expected to do the same. It will likely be the last season featuring the colorful Guenther Steiner, who had become an unexpected celebrity from his exposure on the show, as he was recently removed from his position as the Haas F1 team boss.

Formula 1 - Abu Dhabi under the lights
Photo: Abed Ismail via CC

F1 Season Calendar

For the first time ever, the F1 calendar features 24 races. This is controversial as the teams have generally called for fewer races rather than more. This will be made possible with a number of triple headers and limited travel distance optimizations. F1 says that keeping travel regionalized before moving on to another region is unrealistic.

The first two races of the season will take place on a Saturday to observe Ramadan.

  • Mar 2: Bahrain
  • Mar 9: Saudi Arabia
  • Mar 24: Australia
  • Apr 7: Japan
  • Apr 21: China*
  • May 5: Miami*
  • May 19: Emilia Romagna
  • May 26: Monaco
  • Jun 9: Canada
  • Jun 23: Spain
  • Jun 30: Austria*
  • Jul 7: United Kingdom
  • Jul 21: Hungary
  • Jul 28: Belgium
  • Aug 25: Netherlands
  • Sep 1: Italy
  • Sep 15: Azerbaijan
  • Sep 22: Singapore
  • Oct 20: USA*
  • Oct 27: Mexico
  • Nov 3: Brazil*
  • Nov 23: Las Vegas
  • Dec 1: Qatar*
  • Dec 8: Abu Dhabi

* These denote sprint weekends, during which the usual race schedule is altered to include an additional, shorter race. See the regulation changes section below for more.

This is only a provisional calendar and may change if certain venues drop out, like China, which has been off the calendar since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

F1 2024 Constructors

2024 F1 Drivers and Teams

For the eighth year running, ten constructors, or teams, will compete in the F1 championship. Constructors build their own chassis, but may purchase the power unit from a separate manufacturer. You can see how that breaks down in the right-hand chart. The first name is the constructor, while the one after the hyphen is the team’s engine supplier.

Though these are all the same teams as last year, two have undergone a rebrand. Alfa Romeo has become Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber. It’s still just Sauber under the hood. Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri is also preparing for a name change. Recent leaks suggest it was ready to go forward with “Visa CashApp RB,” which was met with a lot of backlash. If AlphaTauri goes through with this, its only redeeming quality will be making Kick Sauber’s own rebrand suddenly look at lot more reasonable.

F1 2024 Drivers

For the first time ever, there are no driver changes taking place from one season to the next. All 2023 drivers are still here and still driving for the same teams as they were at the end of last year. This should make for interesting, longer-term head-to-head comparisons than are usually possible. Below, I’ll quickly recap how those matchups went last year:

  • Max Verstappen demolished Sergio Pérez. It was such a trouncing that I wrote an overly long page on it already.
  • Lewis Hamilton had the upper hand over George Russell, largely thanks to sheer consistency. Russell has similar outright pace, but was more prone to mistakes.
  • Charles Leclerc finished the 2023 season strong, beating Carlos Sainz decisively after having only a slight edge when the car was suited to his teammate.
  • Lando Norris had buckets of race pace over rookie teammate Oscar Piastri, but the latter nonetheless had a great first season. This matchup could get very close in coming years.
  • Fernando Alonso, age 42, made an embarrassment of Lance Stroll. If Stroll wasn’t the son of his billionaire team owner, he’d have been dropped a long time ago.
  • Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are the two most closely matched teammates, and they can’t seem to stand each other. I expect fireworks in 2024.
  • Alexander Albon had a great 2023 season that probably made rookie teammate Logan Sargeant seem worse than he really was. Let’s see if Sargeant can prove it this year.
  • Yuki Tsunoda is going up against Daniel Ricciardo, who was hit-or-miss in his partial season last year. Keep an eye on them, as they’re fighting for the second Red Bull seat.
  • Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were largely invisible in 2023. Bottas is close to retirement and clearly checking out a little, while Zhou is just underwhelming.
  • Kevin Magnussen shouldn’t feel good about being so handily beaten by Nico Hülkenberg, who had been out of drive for two years. It will probably happen again.

For a more in-depth and statistical overview of how F1 drivers fared against their teammates in 2023, check out this excellent post over at F1 Mathematical Model.

Regulation Changes

There are no major regulation changes in F1 2024 with regard to the car specs. Some changes will be made to the floor to improve driver safety, and the teams will also need to add a cooling duct in the cockpit to avoid heat issues such as those experienced by drivers at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, after which some drivers vomited or passed out.

There will also be five additional testing days for the tires, including four dedicated to wet tire testing. Driver visibility in wet weather conditions was poor in 2023, and Pirelli is aiming to develop intermediate and full-wet tires that solve this.

The 2023 season introduced a new and widely criticized sprint race weekend format. The FIA commission is set to meet with race directors to discuss an improvement in that format for 2024, which will have an expanded calendar of six sprint races. No details are available yet.

For the most part, 2024 will be a continuation of 2023 for Formula 1, albeit with the most successful teams getting less wind tunnel time than the least successful ones. This should lead to a more competitive field, which is promising as it was already quite competitive in 2023 aside from the outlier that was Max Verstappen.