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4 Things To Look Out For In The 2024 F1 Season

F1 is back, pre-season testing is complete. We’re only days away from the first Grand Prix of the 2024 F1 season. Here are a few things to keep an eye on.

The 2024 F1 season kicks off with the Bahrain Grand Prix this Saturday. As always there are plenty of things to keep an eye on for this year’s Formula 1 World Championship.

1. Mercedes’ W15

Per the Brackley team’s standards, Mercedes have not shown anywhere near their true pace in pre-season testing. Mercedes has done mostly high-fuel runs with nothing impressive on the timing sheets. ‘Sandbagging’ is in Mercedes’ nature regarding pre-season testing, something they did even back in their glory days.

Day 2 of testing delivered a shock from Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton set his best time on the C3 tyre, jumping him to P3. If Mercedes was still ‘sandbagging’ but able to deliver a positive result as such, it may serve as a confidence boost.

After getting the new regulations particularly wrong in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, all eyes will be on the Silver Arrows to see if the third time’s the charm. With James Allison spearheading the W15’s production, there is confidence that Mercedes might have a more positive season this time.

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, Wednesday – Jiri Krenek

Notably, Mercedes have ditched the ‘zero-pod’ philosophy they were once confident in. Another eye-catching addition to the Mercedes is their front wing, which has caused some drama already. The Mercedes front wing has three flaps, but the final flap isn’t complete. Instead, the final flap has been connected to the nose with a small piece of carbon fiber.

With this innovation, it seems to be that Mercedes are trying to recreate the ‘Y250 vortex’ which would result in more downforce. Mercedes and the FIA have confirmed that the element is legal. However, there are concerns that the solution could be ‘against the spirit of the regulations.’

Legal or not, all eyes will be on Mercedes to see if the W15 will be an upgrade to its predecessors, and if they will perhaps give Lewis Hamilton a title contender in his last season with the Silver Arrows.

2. Ferrari’s SF-24

What has been one of Ferrari’s biggest issues since the introduction of the new regulations in 2022, is tyre degradation. After day 1 of testing though, Ferrari fans will be happy to hear that tyre degradation appears to be more controlled. Another positive from Ferrari is that the drivers are happy with handling.

Day 2 of testing had Ferrari topping the time sheets in the morning session with Charles Leclerc. However, the session was red-flagged and not resumed due to a drain cover at Turn 11 lifting off after Leclerc ran over it. Leclerc’s Ferrari sustained damage to his floor. As for the afternoon session, Ferrari were once again topping the time sheets, this time around with Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard did well on the C4 tyre, with a time faster than Verstappen’s on Day 1, and only two-tenths off of last year’s pole time.

In terms of pace, it does look promising for Ferrari in 2024. The Italian giants had no intention of raising their engine modes until next week. But this is likely the case with everyone on the grid, so until qualifying in Bahrain next weekend, whether Ferrari will be close to the Red Bulls is still to be known.

It will also be interesting to see how Ferrari perform this season, as it may tell a tale of how Lewis Hamilton‘s decision to join Ferrari in 2025 may pan out.

3. VCARB chasing the pack

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 23: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402230724 // Usage for editorial use only //

According to AMuS, VCARB (Formerly known as AlphaTauri) could join the chasing pack this year with Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin.

“If Ricciardo hadn’t been hindered by Gasly yesterday, he would have set the second-fastest lap.” – Helmut Marko ahead of Day 2 of testing.

Daniel Ricciardo finished Wednesday’s session fourth, 1.2s off Verstappen’s in the Red Bull. Notably, his lap time was within the pace of Lando Norris’ McLaren and Sainz in the Ferrari. On Day 2 of testing the Australian finished fifth overall, 1.4s off Sainz who topped the day’s timesheets. Once again, he found himself within the pace of Norris, and a Ferrari – Leclerc.

It is just testing, and it is advisable to not read too much into anything we witness in testing. However, after Alpha Tauri’s updates for the Abu Dhabi GP last year are said to have helped the team in the making of this year’s car, and the confidence radiating from VCARB and Red Bull, they will definitely be ones to watch.

4. Rule changes

DRS can be activated after just one lap instead of the usual two laps at the start of the race. The same applies to restarts following a Safety Car period.

Last year, teams were allowed to use four of each of the following before picking up a grid penalty:

  • internal combustion engine (ICE)
  • motor generator unit – heat (MGU-H)
  • motor generator unit – kinetic (MGU-K)
  • turbocharger (TC)

For the 2024 F1 season, we were supposed to see a return of only 3 of each allowed, however, a proposal to increase the power unit allocation to four per driver for the 2024 and 2025 seasons was agreed.

 

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