F1 2024: Get Up To Speed Before the First Race of the Season

A lot has happened since the 2023 F1 season wrapped up in December, so here’s what you need to know ahead of the Bahrain GP.

byElizabeth Blackstock|
F1 photo


The 2024 Formula 1 season is finally upon us! This Saturday, the Bahrain Grand Prix will ring in a new year of open-wheel action, but a lot has happened since the 2023 season concluded in December. Team names have changed, key personnel have been canned, and plenty of teams are hoping that this is the year they'll be blessed by Lady Luck.

If you haven't stayed on top of the ever-changing F1 landscape during the break, don't worry—we're here to get you up to speed with the most important news, the storylines to watch, and the channels you'll need to tune in.


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When the racing stops in F1, the news grind usually slows up with it, but the same can't be said for 2024. This is what you need to know ahead of Bahrain.

First and foremost, there are two new team names on the F1 grid, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber and Visa Cash App RB F1 Team. The former is the team we used to call Alfa Romeo, which has since shed its red-white-and-black livery for some bold neon green. The team wants you to call it "Team Kick" or "Team Stake" depending on the livery it'll wear during a race weekend, but you'll most likely hear the team referred to as Sauber. 

AlphaTauri, too, has evolved into its next form with the ultra-sponsored Visa Cash App RB F1 Team. Internally, team personnel are referring to the Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda-led team as "VCARB," but during pre-season testing, commentators seemed committed to referring to it as "RB." 

All has not been well at VCARB's sister team, as Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has spent several weeks under investigation for alleged inappropriate conduct. As a result of an investigation carried out by a third party, Red Bull has dismissed those allegations. However, just one day after being exonerated, an anonymous email containing images of alleged conversations between Horner and his former personal assistant was divulged to journalists, F1 team bosses, and even the FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. This is a storyline we'll definitely see more of over the weekend.

The MoneyGram Haas F1 Team might look the same on the surface, but expect this outfit to adopt a much different vibe in 2024; former team principal Guenther Steiner has been canned by owner Gene Haas thanks to the team's eternal struggle for performance. In his place is Ayao Komatsu, who previously served as an engineer.

Andretti Global's F1 team entry has been denied by F1. In its judgment, F1 claimed that Andretti failed to show that "it would add value to the Championship." However, F1 did mention that it's still interested in Cadillac signing on as a power-unit manufacturer—it just doesn't need that whole "Andretti" name attached to it.


Oh, and seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton? He's sticking it out with Mercedes for one final year before joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2025. So, definitely nothing major here on the off-season news front!

What To Watch for in 2024

Pre-season testing is never a particularly direct indicator of how an F1 season will play out, but one thing is pretty much certain: Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing will remain the dominant duo topping the timing sheets in 2024. That being said, there are still tons of compelling storylines to keep an eye on.

This season will be the longest in F1 history. With 24 scheduled races scattered all across the world and a season that runs from February to December, we can expect fatigue will come into play—especially for the crews that service the cars. Keep an eye out for small mistakes that compound into bigger errors as the season drags on and the mechanics come under more stress.


That lengthy season means we'll have plenty of time to find out if Ferrari has managed to close the gap to Red Bull, as its testing times have suggested, or if the team will continue to flounder under the weight of its own expectations. We'll also be keeping a close eye on McLaren's performance; the Woking-based team managed to crack the engineering code at the tail end of 2023, netting the team nine podiums, one sprint race win, and fourth place overall in the Constructors' Championship. Will McLaren continue to improve, or did the end of 2023 arrest its momentum?

We'll also be watching Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso. The two-time World Champion kicked off 2023 in fine form with his new team, but Aston Martin took a wrong turn down the development path as the year went on. At 42 years old, Alonso is no longer in his prime, and he may not have much longer to score his third title. Will he make strides to the top step of the podium, or will Aston Martin lead him astray?


With engineer Ayao Komatsu at the helm, Haas F1 is hoping for a promising 2024. The team took a "slow and steady" approach to testing; rather than quick runs to sample outright speed. It also attempted to sort out its tire degradation issues by putting together long, race-ready runs. Gene Haas is certainly hoping that Komatsu will be the magic charm that rights his team's course, but Steiner's firing on January 10 may have come too late for much to be changed in 2024.

Also hoping for a significant change in fortune is Mercedes, which is introducing the W15 as its 2024 competitor. After its bets on the "no-sidepod" concept failed to pan out, Mercedes has opted for a more conventional body with a more innovative front wing paired with adaptable suspension. It's a new path of development for the Silver Arrows, which means there will inevitably be teething problems—like the "bouncing" that drivers Hamilton and George Russell have already reported in testing. 

Finally, Lewis Hamilton's shock move to Ferrari for 2025 took place before the 2024 season even began, which means we can expect the silly season to come early this year. Right now, 13 of F1's 20 current drivers will see their contracts expire at the end of 2024, and Hamilton's move has opened up a very coveted seat at Mercedes that could kick off a fascinating domino effect.

How To Watch F1

Here in the United States, all F1 races, qualifying sessions, and sprint races will be aired live on ESPN with the exception of the three races in the United States (Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas) that are aired live on ABC. Practice sessions, opening ceremonies, and post-race analysis are available on ESPN2.


If you're more of a streaming fan, then you can subscribe to F1TV; it'll cost $84.99 per year to watch races live and on-demand or $29.99 per year to access live timing and delayed race replays. If you're going the F1TV route, I recommend opting for the more expensive package, since it means you can listen to live team radio, swap out views of onboard cameras during the race, and toggle between commentary teams. Plus, you'll have access to a pretty decent archive of classic races.

The 2024 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix airs at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 2. That's not a typo: the first two events of the year (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) will run on Saturday to accommodate the start of Ramadan.

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