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2024 F1 Grid Remains Unchanged

Following the announcement that Logan Sargeant will remain with Williams, the 2024 F1 grid is set to look exactly the same as it ended in 2023. 

The Formula One driver market is often a fickle thing. A few dodgy races at the wrong point in the season, and depending on how trigger-happy your team boss might be, you’ll quickly find yourself out the door, replaced by the brightest new face from F2. Or at least, that’s usually the case. This year, however, the ten teams on the Formula One grid have collectively shown a rare hand of loyalty. As such, when the 2024 F1 grid forms for the first time next year on the start line in Bahrain, there won’t be any new names to learn (well, at least as far as the drivers go, but more on that later).

Now, that might not be great for headlines, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about during the winter break. So, here’s a run down of each team’s driver-lineup, along with what you should expect from them all in 2024.

2024 F1 Grid

Verstappen driving the 2023 Red Bull

Red Bull Racing

Drivers: Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez

Red Bull’s 2023 campaign was practically faultless. For the most part, Max Verstappen seemed untouchable behind the wheel of the RB19, which was easily the best car on the 2023 grid. When you pair a driver of Verstappen’s talent with a car as good as that, what you get in return is dominance at an elite level. Over the course of 2023, the Dutchman would go on to break more records than any normal person could keep track of, collecting 19 wins from 22 races, which of course culminated in an early romp to the title. The constructor’s championship fell the way of Red Bull too. In fact, the only blot on Red Bull’s 2023 copy book came in Singapore, where Carlos Sainz Jr. took victory for Ferrari. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

That is especially true of the driver on the other side of the Red Bull garage. Without wanting to be too dismissive, Sergio Perez had a forgettable year that verged on becoming inadequate. In the early weeks of the season, two race wins in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan teased a potential title fight between himself and Verstappen. But that storyline quickly fell away; his confidence apparently crumbling as the year drew on. Perez did still manage to finish runner-up in the championship standings, but from the outside you couldn’t help but wonder if a different caliber of driver might have gone toe to toe with Verstappen more consistently. Perez will certainly be watching over his shoulder in 2024, but it feels like only a matter of time before Red Bull’s notorious axe catches up with him.

Hamilton and Russell driving for Mercedes at the Sao Paulo GP

Mercedes

Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, George Russell

The gap in performance between Red Bull and the rest is vast. To put things into perspective, Red Bull ended 2023 with more than double the amount of points scored compared to Mercedes, who finished second in the constructor’s standings. That’s not the sort of difference you can make up between races, and it might not be the sort of difference you can make up in one winter break either. Still, although there’s evidently a big challenge ahead for F1’s former dominant force, there were at least signs of life in 2023, which is why they ended the year as the best of the rest.

Still, it will no doubt come as relief to both Hamilton and Russell that Mercedes is shelving its current design concept in favor of something less radical (and hopefully less flawed). If the German marque can show significant gains over the winter, there’s no reason why they can’t catch up to Red Bull in years to come. They’ve certainly got a worthy driver pairing.

There had been question marks over Hamilton’s commitment to F1 this year, as there always is with any driver entering the twilight years of their career, but rumors linking him with Ferrari and Red Bull were always fleeting at best. When Hamilton does eventually bow out of the sport, it’ll be behind the wheel of a Mercedes. But between now and whenever that may be, it’s clear that he not only has the fitness but also the pace to match anyone on the grid (given the equipment to do so). Russell, too, continues to look like a solid bet for the future, despite a few shaky moments.

2023 Ferrari F1 cars in the pit lane.

Ferrari

Drivers: Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr. 

2024 will be an interesting one for Ferrari. It’ll mark the roll out of the first car to be engineered under Fred Vasseur’s guidance, the Frenchman having taken over from Mattia Binotto too late in the day to have any real impact on the SF-23’s development. Whether Vasseur’s steadying of the red ship will translate into speed remains to be seen, but it undoubtedly gives Leclerc and Sainz something to wonder about.

The two drivers were always there or thereabouts this year, without ever really *wowing* on a regular basis – aside of course from Sainz’s Singaporean victory, when Red Bull did their best to self-destruct. Yet, despite their relative indifference, I think the pair of them will have very different feelings about how the season panned out.

For Sainz, it was arguably his best year yet as an F1 driver, whereas Leclerc seemed to lose some of the shine that marked him out as Ferrari’s leading light. As far as 2024 goes, there’s a certain amount of pressure on Leclerc’s shoulders to turn the tide. We all know he has the potential to become one of the sport’s great drivers, but the time has come for him to start delivering on that promise more regularly. In 2024, Leclerc needs to not only finish ahead of Sainz in the standings, but to do so comfortably.

Lando Norris leading Oscar Piastri around the streets of Jeddah for McLaren.

McLaren

Drivers: Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri

Well, that was an impressive turnaround. McLaren started 2023 floundering at the back of the pack, but after a steady stream of effective upgrades, the Woking-based team emerged as Red Bull’s closest challenger by the time late Autumn arrived. Heading into 2024, McLaren will certainly be buoyed by their dramatic rise. If they manage to retain that position over winter, second place in the constructor’s championship is nailed on. Which is quite remarkable, when you think about where the team was not even a year ago.

Plus, although the car itself is now undoubtedly very good, there’s a lot to be said for McLaren’s young driver pairing too. This year, Lando Norris gained an air of maturity in his driving that felt different than before. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that aside from Verstappen, he was perhaps the most exciting talent on the grid. Oscar Piastri, too, was the most impressive rookie F1’s had in a long while. If Zak Brown can keep all the individual parts together, he could have one hell of a team on his hands in the near future.

Fernando Alonso driving the 2023 Aston Martin

Aston Martin

Drivers: Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll

‘Team Silverstone’ was one of the feel-good stories of 2023. In the early parts of the year, Aston Martin’s financial backing looked to have transported the outfit from the lowly midfield ranks right up to the top echelons of the sport. Fernando Alonso even felt so confident after the first few races that he predicted he’d finish on the podium at every event this year. Unfortunately for Alonso, things didn’t quite pan out that way. Although still a commendable improvement on where they were in 2022, Aston Martin’s pace did begin to fizzle out as the year drew on and other more established teams developed upgrades. Really, it’s that rate of development which is holding this team back.

The Lance Stroll conundrum

Well, perhaps you could argue that it’s not just the rate of development. Fernando Alonso had a stunning season, but Lance Stroll remained… Lance Stroll. Truth be told, I don’t think the kid is half as bad as his most cynical detractors would have you believe. He’s certainly no Nikita Mazepin. But the harsh truth is that his father’s team has now outgrown him. The car is faster than he ever will be, and if Aston Martin wants to be considered a serious team in F1, then they need an elite driver alongside Alonso to bring home the results that the car is now capable of.

It’s also worth mentioning that Aston Martin recently revived its previously-mothballed Le Mans Hypercar programme, with a race version of the Valkyrie AMR Pro. Lance has already been linked with a switch to the FIA World Endurance Championship, but for now the team has batted away any talk of such a move. Still, if Lawrence Stroll can’t bring himself to sack his own son, you can’t help but notice that the WEC project would fix the F1 inadequacy problem, while keeping Lance under the Aston Martin wing. For now though, his presence on the 2024 F1 grid remains assured. We’ll have to revisit that statement when the Valkyrie LMH takes to the track in 2025…

Pierre Gasly driving the 2023 Alpine F1 car

Alpine

Drivers: Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon

Alpine’s recent injection of celebrity cash investment will be much-needed in the off-season. Both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon showed flashes of real speed this year, but neither had a car that was going to threaten the top of the leaderboard. Alpine missed a trick when they lost Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri in 2022, but both of their current drivers are certainly worthy of the opportunity to compete in F1. Gasly and Ocon are race winners at this level, and although neither are likely to be world champion material, they’re certainly good enough to feast on any crumbs of performance that Alpine manage to throw their way.

It’s now up to Alpine’s team of engineers to deliver a car that’s at least level with the Aston Martin, let alone the cars above. If they can manage that, a few more podiums may be on the cards. But otherwise 2024 looks set be another bland season in the midfield, comfortably ahead of the backmarkers, but too far away from the front to have any sort of impact.

Alex Albon in the 2023 Williams

Williams

Drivers: Alex Albon, Logan Sargeant

One team that’s definitely on the up, however, is Williams. Ever since James Vowles took over from Jost Capito at the helm of the team, there’s been a positive calmness about the Williams garage. They’re making incremental steps to improve the car, and are now regularly a top ten fixture. You only have to look back to the sort of results they could muster in 2022 to understand the weight of that. This is a team that his been in the doldrums for far too long, but under Vowles, it feels as though Williams is on a clear upwards path for the first time in a long time. Of course, it remains to be seen how far they can realistically climb when up against the financial might of OEMs, but there’s no reason why in a few years they can’t emulate what McLaren are doing right now.

The team’s choice of driver line-up is perhaps a little more divisive than their choice of team boss though. There’s no question about Alex Albon. The London-born Thai looks like a completely different driver compared to his Red Bull days, bursting with confidence and speed. That’s translated into a healthy sack of points for Williams this year, which they’ll no doubt be looking to build on in 2024.

Was Sargeant the right call?

There is less certainty, however, over Logan Sargeant – which is perhaps why it took so long for the young American’s contract renewal to be taken up. There’s no hiding from the fact that the first three quarters of his season were anonymous at best, and De Vries-esque at worst. However, a late upturn in form seems to have convinced Williams that there is a handy racer in there after all. That said, flashes of pace still only translated into a single championship point for Sargeant by the end of 2023 – and that only came after two other cars ahead of him were disqualified.

Still, if Williams can continue to develop the car, Sargeant will have a better chance of turning positive qualifying outings into fruitful races. Certain F1 teams can be all too quick to ditch academy starlets if they show any sign of weakness, so perhaps we should be applauding Williams for allowing Sargeant to blossom.

Tsunoda driving the 2023 Alpha Tauri

Alpha Tauri (Racing Bulls?)

Drivers: Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull’s secondary team got its driver swaps done early this year. Alpha Tauri started 2023 with Honda-backed Yuki Tsunoda and former FIA Formula E World Champion, Nyck de Vries. De Vries had starred in a cameo for Williams in 2022, which seemed to be enough to earn him a full time gig with Alpha Tauri in 2023. However, De Vries was never able to recapture the form he showed in a Williams. Undoubtedly, he wasn’t helped by the fact that the team started off the year with arguably the worst car on the grid, but results really were worrying. Red Bull management took action early and replaced the Dutchman with F1’s smiling assassin, Daniel Ricciardo.

Musical Chairs

The likeable Aussie was a welcome addition to the grid, having started the year on the sidelines after departing McLaren. His arrival was all the more welcome when it became apparent that he’d be able to drag some pace – and points – out of the ailing Alpha Tauri.

As the season progressed into its latter stages, the Italian team managed to find something in its upgrades that worked. All of a sudden, the car was now able to challenge the rest of the lower midfield, but Ricciardo wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of the engineers’ labor. Injury saw him sidelined again, with Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson jetting in to take his place. Lawson made an immediate impression, often outperforming the more experienced Tsunoda.

Ricciardo would reclaim the seat once again though, once his injury had healed, and he’ll keep it for 2024. That leaves Lawson without a place on the 2024 F1 grid, despite being heavily linked with vacancies at both Alpha Tauri and Williams. Tsunoda, meanwhile, will be looking to build on a strong end to the year, while a proper pre-season and full campaign should do Ricciardo plenty of good as well. Rumor has it, if Perez gets the chop, Danny Ric could be first in line to return to the A-Team, as it were.

Oh, and one final point of intrigue – Alpha Tauri won’t be called Alpha Tauri anymore. Trademark files seem to suggest that the team will instead take the Racing Bulls name. I’ll let you come to your own opinions about that…

Sauber will lose Alfa Romeo branding in 2024.

Sauber

Drivers: Valterri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu

With their Alfa Romeo sponsorship deal drawing to a close, the Swiss outfit will likely return to its core Sauber identity in 2024. The team appears to have adopted a ‘play it safe’ approach to the coming season, with both Valterri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu having proven to the team that they’re a reliable (albeit perhaps not super inspiring) pairing. Bottas certainly has the pace of a top tier driver still, but regardless of any of that, it’s practically impossible to get excited about what Sauber might achieve in 2024.

The reason for that is simple. This chapter of their history is a stop gap, nothing more. A new manufacturer partnership with Audi is on the horizon, but until they officially get into bed with the German marque, there isn’t much resource available to their engineering division. I expect Bottas in particular will salvage a chunk of points for the team – perhaps with an eye on earning a renewal with Audi, but don’t be surprised if they sink to the bottom of the pile in 2024.

2023 Haas F1 cars at Spa

Haas

Drivers: Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen

It’s a wonder that Gene Haas still has an F1 team. That’s not meant as a criticism per se, I just can’t fathom what he’s getting out of it. The team spent years floating between underwhelming, crash-prone drivers, and now that they seem to have a reasonable pairing in the form of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, there doesn’t seem to be any gusto behind the development of the car.

Although they’re two of the more experienced drivers on the 2024 F1 grid, it’s probably fair to say that Hulkenberg and Magnussen both still have something to prove. That, combined with team boss Gunther Steiner’s injection of urgency, could elevate the team back into ninth above Sauber next year, but I can’t see them reaching any higher than that. If the Andretti-Cadillac project makes it onto the F1 grid in years to come, and if Sauber makes strides with Audi, you really do have to fear for how far Haas might fall out of touch.

Anyway, that’s the 2024 F1 grid. Let’s hope it provides more entertaining races than it did this year…

The post 2024 F1 Grid Remains Unchanged appeared first on Fast Car.

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