Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

What’s new for 2024? Your guide to the F1 season ahead

Formula 1

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A return to China, new sprint race venues and multiple renamed teams. The 2024 Formula 1 season might not feature as many sweeping changes as many recent years, but there are some notable differences heading into the upcoming season.

Here’s what’s changed – and what hasn’t – for the 75th Formula 1 world championship season.


It doesn’t take long to recap all of the driver market moves for 2024 – because there aren’t any.

For the first time in the history of Formula 1, every driver who finished last year’s final round in Abu Dhabi will take the grid for the season opener in Bahrain with the same team. All 20 drivers, from Max Verstappen to Logan Sargeant, have retained their seats from 2023 to 2024, without a single driver move between them. In fact, the only difference between the field who will compete in Bahrain in March and the 20 drivers who raced there last year will be that Daniel Ricciardo races in place of Nyck de Vries after he replaced the rookie driver midway through last season.

End-of-season Formula 1 drivers' photograph, 2023
Every driver keeps their seat for 2024
With all 20 race drivers the same, there are a couple of changes to the drivers who will act as reserves over the season. As seen with Ricciardo and Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson, there’s always a possibility that a reserve driver could be called up to step in for a team mate in the event of a mishap or illness.

Many teams are retaining their reserve drivers for this season, including Aston Martin who will once again have development driver Felipe Drugovich on standby, or Sauber, who will keep Theo Pourchaire in the garage during the season. However, McLaren have changed their reserves for the new season.

Out goes 2023 reserve Alex Palou following a very public breakdown in McLaren’s relationship with them. Instead, Palou’s place will be filled by fellow IndyCar racer Pato O’Ward and Toyota World Endurance Championship racer and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Ryo Hirakawa. Many other teams have yet to formally confirm their reserves for the new season.

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The last 12 months have seen the question of whether Andretti will get to join the grid as an 11th team in the upcoming years become one of the hottest talking points in the sport. But while Andretti’s formal approval remains in limbo while Formula 1 considers whether to accept their bid, the 2024 grid will be made up of the same ten entities it has since 2016 with the arrival of Haas as the newest team in the pit lane.

Both Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri will change names this year
However, there are two teams who are going to be competing under different names than they were last year. Red Bull’s second team, who have competed for the last four seasons as ‘AlphaTauri’ – named after Red Bull’s fashion brand – have been entered in the official entry list for the 2024 season as ‘RB’. However, it is believed that this is a placeholder name. Late last year, Red Bull filed a copyright application for a name ‘Racing Bulls’.

Similarly, the Alfa Romeo name has left the Formula 1 grid for the third time in the sport’s history. Run by the Sauber organisation, Alfa Romeo became the full naming rights partner in 2019 with Sauber competing under the name of the Italian marque for the last five seasons.

Ahead of their planned transition into the Audi factory team for 2026, the Switzerland-based team has revealed a new name for the interim period. Having previously revealed its chassis had been rebranded as ‘Kick Sauber’, on New Year’s Day Sauber announced its team name will be Stake F1 Team.

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Team principals

Unlike the drivers on the grid, there are a couple of changes to the line-up of ten team principals who will be sitting on the pit wall this season. The most notable change being at the team formerly known as AlphaTauri who have bid farewell to Franz Tost, the man who led Red Bull’s junior team since they purchased the former Minardi squad in 2005.

Laurent Mekies takes charge of Red Bull’s second team
Instead, the team have swapped the oldest team principal on the grid to 46-year-old Laurent Mekies. Formerly the sporting director of Ferrari and previously involved in race control at the FIA before that, Mekies is very familiar with the Faenza-based team.

Mekies worked as a race engineer at Minardi before its takeover by Red Bull, engineering Christijan Albers in 2005, before becoming chief engineer of the renamed Toro Rosso team, being part of the team who celebrated Sebastian Vettel’s famous Italian Grand Prix victory at Monza in 2008. Having left Ferrari in the middle of last season following news of his appointment, New Year’s Day will officially be Mekies first as team principal.

The only other change is at Alpine. After former team principal Otmar Szafnauer was relieved of his duties by owners Renault, along with sporting director Alan Permane, following last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Bruno Famin took the reigns as interim team principal. Although Famin was supposed to be an interim stand in for the role, it is believed that he will continue in the role for the 2024 season, rather than Alpine appoint a replacement.


A record 24 grands prix planned on the 2024 F1 calendar – the most in history. Ultimately the schedule will be made up of the same 23 events that were originally planned for last year, only with the return of the Chinese Grand Prix to the championship for the first time since the covid pandemic meant the race has been off the schedule since 2019. Zhou Guanyu will therefore compete in his home grand prix for the first time in April.

Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019
Shanghai returns for the first time since 2019
The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, having been cancelled last year due to severe flooding in the region in the lead up to the event, should return to the calendar in May. However, for the first time since 2019, there will not be a new grand prix this year following the addition of the Qatar, Miami and Las Vegas grands prix over the last three seasons.

After the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix became the first race to be held on a Saturday since 1985 last year, there will be three races on Saturdays this season – the season opener in Bahrain, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the round in Las Vegas once more. The Japanese Grand Prix moves from its traditional Autumn slot to the fourth round of the season in April – the earliest the race has ever been held. The season will again end in Abu Dhabi, but will finish in early December for the first time since 2021.

Again, there will be six sprint rounds this season. However, two of them will host the format for the first time – the Chinese and Miami grands prix. Just as in 2023, the Red Bull Ring, Circuit of the Americas, Interlagos and Losail circuits will hold the remaining sprint rounds.

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Rule changes

Much like last season, the technical regulations will remain largely static for 2024 compared to the previous year. As such, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told RaceFans that he expects the world champions to face greater competition from their rivals this year as a result.

Pirelli will be granted more testing days
However, following the extreme heat that led to several drivers suffering physical illness and exhaustion during the Qatar Grand Prix, the FIA have adjusted the technical regulations for this season to permit teams to install what is called a ‘driver cooling scoop’ which, as the name implies, helps to channel air travelling over the car towards the cockpit in a bid to provide a cooling stream of air for drivers.

After commencing development into methods to reduce spray generated by cars in wet conditions last season, the FIA will also continue to test and work on rear wheel covers in an effort to improve safety for drivers in the wet. Tyre suppliers Pirelli will be permitted to run 40 days of dedicated tyre testing with teams this season, with an additional four days dedicated to testing wet weather tyres.

With the start of the new year, teams will be permitted to run 2022-spec cars under the ‘testing of previous cars’ programme, used to provide F1 runs for development drivers in private. This year will be the first season that teams will be allowed to do so using their 2022 cars which use the ground effect aerodynamic concept currently applied by current F1 cars.

In a notable change to the sporting regulations, the FIA has dramatically increased the maximum fine it can apply to teams and drivers in the event of a penalty. The previous upper limit of €250,000 has quadrupled to €1 million (£870,000).

After multiple incidents of flares in grandstands in recent years at the Austrian and Dutch grands prix, the FIA has also prohibited any ‘pyrotechnical devices’ from any of its events – including Formula 1 – without prior permission.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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15 comments on “What’s new for 2024? Your guide to the F1 season ahead”

  1. The Chinese GP was also originally-planned for last season, so all 24 belong in that same category, to be precise, while the Abu Dhabi GP doesn’t exactly take place in early-December & neither was this the case in 2020 or ’21, but December anyway.

  2. I’m glad to see the end of flares, and I really hope that progress is made to allow proper wet weather running again – it’s been absent for too long and usually guarantees cracking races.

    1. @sham on the other hand, in the countries where the flares have been most frequently used, there is already existing statutory law that criminalises the unauthorised transportation and use of pyrotechnic devices – which means the FIA’s act is fairly pointless in practice.

      1. If they just say “flares are banned” that’s is indeed pretty pointless. However, if they are going to say flares are banned, anyone caught bringing them into the venue will be ejected on the spot and miss the race, it might send out a better message. Or since flares are illegal in some countries, they could report people caught with them to local police, just like they hopefully would if someone tried to bring in a gun or a flick knife.

        The change in the rules doesn’t amount to much, but if they back it up with clear messaging to the fans and the venue organisers, it might put an end to that dangerous practice.

        1. That is in the Netherlands impossible as Flares are legal to use …. If they want to ban it the security of the circuit should be very strict and anyone having them or using them removing them from the circuit will be more effectable then only saying they are banned …..

  3. Driver cooling scoop? Is it the first of January, or April?
    Adrian Newey’s one will be several degrees cooler than anyone else’s.

    1. What is funny to you here? It’s just an aero device to direct air into the cockpit. They have several sorts of these in IndyCar for the same purpose.

      1. TBF it’s F1 and driver comfort has always taken a back seat to performance. F1 may have authorised the use of aerodynamic cooling features but even if it costs 0.1 seconds per lap drivers will be under significant pressure to do without them.

    2. 1st April 2024

      The FIA have adjusted the technical regulations for this season to permit teams to install what is called an ‘air ride seat’, which will enable drivers to comfortably negate any further effects of porpoising or bouncing.

  4. well the season all depends on things we can’t know yet of course, basically whether anyone’s caught Red Bull, but at least it gives the power mad narcissist Xi Jinping something more to lose if he invades Taiwan

    1. Coventry Climax
      1st January 2024, 20:42

      Which means you expect F1 to skip China if Jinping decides to invade Taiwan before the F1 date? He might also decide to do it after the F1 date. Either way, to F1 it doesn’t matter all that much what regimes think or do to either their own people or others, as long as they pay good money. It’s only after public opinion makes the situation untenable that F1 makes decisions, despite all their big words blah about inclusivity, equality and what not.

      1. Liberty is American don’t forget, and also the whole thing depends on advertisers and viewers and brand. They’re not going to Russia are they? So yes as you say public opinion, and if Xi invades a democracy that will get pretty hostile. Not saying F1 is moral or anything, but yes I do think if they invaded Taiwan F1 would have to stay away

        And the other way, the narcissist World Leaders just love the status around F1, that’s why F1 plays the national anthems and all that. Power and Status! He might be ugly but he’s important. So it would be a cost to Xi and generally at this point it’s an east-west contact and good for everybody, something to lose

  5. Suzuka in April?! What ungodly apparition is this?!

  6. Tyre suppliers Pirelli will be permitted to run 40 days of dedicated tyre testing with teams this season, with an additional four days dedicated to testing wet weather tyres.

    That sounds like a lot, are they counting this as ‘car days’, so 1 day will effectively be counted as 10 days if all teams participate with one car?

    More testing on the tyres probably won’t make much difference 10+ years into the Pirelli era, but if they can find a way to close the gap between the Wet and Intermediate tyres it’ll make wet racing much easier. It’s not even that the Wet tyres are bad as such, there is just a big gap in performance so the teams always want to go to Intermediate tyres before it’s advisable to do so.

  7. Oh, great, they’ve utterly already sanitized the racing. Now make sure people at the most enthusiastic race crowds are properly subdued and have fun only in designated areas like those “classy” VIP island bars at the Miami GP. Maybe they can stats red flag flagging races if crowds show too much excitement.

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