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F1 Japanese GP 2024: Preview & Predictions

Published at :April 2, 2024 at 1:24 PM
Modified at :April 2, 2024 at 1:24 PM
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Rahul Saha

The 2024 F1 Japanese GP will be held this year in April and not in its usual time of October. According to the FIA, it is to make use of the calendar more effectively and efficiently, with the grand prix now becoming a part of the season-opening Asia-Pacific leg before the action moves to Europe. 

The Australian GP earlier in March was the first race in ten rounds where Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s run of consecutive wins came to an end. 

The race in Australia was not the best for the championship leaders as the team struggled to find the sweet spot with the car, with Sergio Pérez finishing fifth while Max retired following a brake issue.

It was the first win of the season for Carlos Sainz and Ferrari, as the Spaniard followed on from that memorable win in Singapore last year.

As the F1 circus moves to Japan on one of the most historical tracks on the calendar, what can we expect from the race weekend? Let’s take a look at our preview for the 2024 F1 Japanese GP.

2024 F1 Japanese GP: Preview

Key Storylines

1. How will Red Bull fare this weekend?

All eyes will be on Red Bull this weekend after the team underperformed in Melbourne. Even without Max’s retirement, it looked like the Ferrari’s had the overall better race pace over the Red Bulls throughout the race weekend.

While many believe both Ferrari and McLaren will be closing in on Red Bull with their development plans, the reigning champions too have their own components waiting in the wings. If Red Bull again struggles in the 2024 F1 Japanese GP, it will surely attract attention (and make for a very interesting storyline for the rest of the season). 

2. The Leclerc-Sainz dynamics

Charles Leclerc was very magnanimous in the manner in which he congratulated Carlos Sainz for winning the race in Australia. However, on the inside, the driver will be gutted because the gap between the two drivers in terms of performance was significant.

Leclerc was clearly not in tune with the car like Sainz was. To add to that, in both races where Sainz and Leclerc paired up as a duo this season, the Spaniard has had the better of his teammate. 

The 2024 F1 Japanese GP will be a crucial race for Leclerc as he tries to take back the initiative that he’s seemingly lost at Suzuka.

3. What will be the pecking order?

Ferrari’s coming to Melbourne and pretty much dominating the entire weekend was a script that nobody predicted. The team in Scarlett has improved massively on both tyre degradation and race pace from last season. However, even in Jeddah two races ago, the car was comfortably 3–4 tenths off the pace from the Red Bulls. 

But going to Suzuka (which is completely different from Albert Park) and maintaining that standard will be difficult for Ferrari. McLaren, who were close to Red Bull last year at Suzuka, are expected to be there or thereabouts this year too. 

Other than that, the top 5 teams remain as they were in Melbourne. Moreover, Suzuka being one of those abrasive tracks, it will truly test what Haas are really made of, given that excessive tyre degradation was their primary concern last season. 

2023 F1 Japanese GP: Predictions

Who will win the race?

While many would be hoping for the status quo to continue in Australia, it just seems highly unlikely. I’m going to back the in-form Max Verstappen and Red Bull, and it can be a comprehensive one as well if other teams don’t close in the gap with sufficient development packages.

While Pérez is also a shout, historically, he hasn’t really done well at Suzuka. Hence, I’m backing Max Verstappen to get back to the top of the podium once again as normal service resumes in Formula 1.

The surprise of the weekend (Team)

A lot of eyes are on Ferrari this weekend after their emphatic 1-2 victory at Albert Park, and given that there are all sorts of noises throughout the paddock about the SF-24’s new ground-breaking upgrade packages that are due in Imola, if the team can fast forward one or two of those packages, the prancing horses with their stellar driver line-up stand a great chance to challenge the Red Bulls for the win again. 

The surprise of the weekend (Driver)

What happened in Melbourne wasn’t news to Charles Leclerc. When Carlos Sainz won the Singapore GP last year, the weekend had gone in a similar way, with the Spaniard having the edge over Leclerc throughout the race weekend. For Charles, it’s two missed opportunities. 

Moreover, given how closely matched these two drivers are, it was one of those rare occasions where one driver was completely outclassed over a weekend. 

From that point, though, either a driver can come back stronger or he can melt under pressure. Charles Leclerc is an elite talent, and I’m backing him to put up a neck-to-neck fight with his teammate this weekend. 

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