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Formula 1 2024: 10 things to watch in F1 pre-season testing

Published at :February 21, 2024 at 3:07 PM
Modified at :February 21, 2024 at 3:07 PM
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(Courtesy : F1)

Hisan Kidwai

Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain will reveal key storylines for the upcoming season, both on and off track. With all 10 teams holding launch events, we have a good idea of where to look for headlines. The test, starting on February 21st, will focus on the “Is Red Bull for real?” question, with surprises expected. The test will provide an overview of the race’s headlines and provide a good idea of what to expect in the race.

However, there are things to look out for as well. Here are ten key storylines that will unfold during testing, giving us a sneak peek into the upcoming season’s drama and excitement.

McLaren’s Mystery Machine

McLaren has been keeping their new car under wraps, with testing helping uncover their secrets. To maintain secrecy, the team has released very few pictures and high-resolution details of the car at launch. However, the key question is whether McLaren has been misleading us over something minor, a distraction technique, or a wow moment when the car is seen properly for the first time.

Mercedes-Hamilton Dynamics

Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Ferrari in 2025 has raised questions about Mercedes and their handling of their final season together. Pre-season testing will reveal how things work between the two sides as the year develops. Hamilton will have an idea of how competitive Mercedes is by the end of the test, and his exit may have an impact on how he or his team responds to the circumstances.

Tests will be crucial in gaining additional insight into Mercedes and Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari. Hamilton’s first opportunity to question the Ferrari move directly will come in Bahrain.

William’s Late Start

Williams is releasing the FW46 car one day ahead of schedule, having shaken it down the day before testing began while filming in Bahrain. The car’s concept differs from the one that raced for the previous two years, which is to blame for the late start. James Vowles, the head of the Williams team, has pushed for an aggressive design in the hopes of creating a vehicle with more downforce, less front wheel locking, less wind sensitivity, and more development potential.

Ferrari’s Formula

Following a challenging season, Ferrari is looking to improve, and testing will reveal more about their development. To make the CF-24 less unstable, the team is giving driver feedback top priority and putting it front and center.

Technical director Gary Anderson thinks Ferrari won’t achieve much innovation. With pushrod rear suspension and pull rod unusual suspension, Ferrari’s mechanical foundation is essentially different. The intention is to improve the car’s qualifying performance with an appropriate race pace; however, all of Ferrari’s competitors currently prefer push-rod rear suspension.

Mercedes’ Makeover

Mercedes has redesigned their vehicle with an emphasis on the W15 for 2024. First-order test items include the new pushrod rear suspension setup and the odd-looking front wing; the legality of these modifications may be questioned.

To increase airflow, the extreme design removes a sizable portion of the final flap’s interior. According to F1 regulations, front wing components must be spaced 5–15 millimeters apart and invisible from above. Mercedes used a short piece of bodywork or wire to connect the nose to the narrowed fourth front wing element.

It is still unclear whether competing teams think this design is acceptable and whether the FIA would alter rules to forbid its use going forward.

Red Bull’s Second Team

In the Formula One world, Red Bull’s new second team, VCARB-01, is stirring some controversy. Renamed AlphaTauri, the vehicle is based on Red Bull’s RB19 and represents the closest partnership between the two teams in more than ten years. The gearbox, pushrod rear suspension, and pullrod front suspension from the RB19 have been transferred to the VCARB-01. This should allow RB to reach its full performance potential. Since making considerable upgrades in the second part of 2023, RB has already made progress.

Rivals, including McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who expressed disapproval of Red Bull owning two teams and urged the FIA to step in, may become outraged if the car performs well in testing.

The Horner Situation

Questions concerning the squad’s performance are persistent because of Red Bull’s continuing inquiry of Christian Horner, the team principal. Red Bull will want to keep a low profile at the car debut, but more information about Horner’s charges will pique curiosity.

Nevertheless, the question remains whether ongoing questions and speculation will have a lasting impact on the team.

Haas’s Hurdles

Haas is not projected to do well against the competition, and their VF-24 is predicted to suffer this year. Their testing effort will concentrate on producing data to determine how much of the tire-chewing problem of the VF24 has been carried over from its predecessor.

Aston Martin’s Comeback

It’s no secret that Aston Martin will be aiming to regain its early season form of 2023. The team’s director, Dan Fallows, believes the AMR24 will help them recapture their early season form. However, after a rough season, Aston Martin’s form dropped off after six podium finishes for Fernando Alonzo in the first eight races.

With the team’s experience, Fallows is confident that they have learned lessons that will be incorporated into the new AMR 24. The vehicle is expected to perform well in testing and has noticeable modifications.

Red Bull’s Evolution

There has been talk about Red Bull’s RB20, which is an improvement over the all-conquering 2023 car. There are doubts about Red Bull’s willingness to upend the status quo, given that Bahrain will test the car’s looks and performance. Described as an evolution, the RB20 has taken many by surprise with features like shoulder cannons that are positioned closer to Mercedes’s and side pod inlets.

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