Five ridiculously early F1 2024 predictions: McLaren surge, Perez exit and more

Esteban Ocon, Oscar Piastri, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez.

It may only just be 2024, but here are out predictions for the year to come.

Happy new year! Well, let’s hope it will be when F1 2024 eventually creeps up on us and we see a proper title fight unfold. We can but dream…

As we leave F1 2023 firmly behind, all eyes are now set on a brand-spanking new campaign which at least promises to be exciting off the track with a whopping 14 drivers out of contract.

But there is nothing really off limits (apart from predicting more wins or titles for Max Verstappen and Red Bull) as the team make some very early F1 2024 predictions…

Perez/Ricciardo swap? McLaren to keep pushing on?

Mark Scott: Just because we are going early doesn’t mean I am going to go particularly wild. I’m not falling for that trap just yet and will reserve my wilder picks for the eagerly-anticipated season predictions once pre-season is in the books.

Call it boring, call it (relatively safe), or both, but I am going to predict McLaren finish P2 in the Constructors’ Championship behind Red Bull, leapfrogging both Mercedes and Ferrari.

I don’t think the meteoric rise witnessed during the F1 2023 season has finished just yet and they really should have a much more solid base to work on in the early part of this year compared to early stages of F1 2023.

I think both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will also pick up race wins in the process, too. There you go: two predictions for the price of one.

Jamie Woodhouse: I reckon we are going to see a mid-season driver change at Red Bull, but not the one that perhaps most would expect.

Daniel Ricciardo of course had the setback of his hand injury, but in his time on the F1 2023 grid with AlphaTauri, did he do enough to even hint that he is up to the task of returning to the Red Bull line-up alongside Max Verstappen? Not really.

So, I can see Sergio Perez heading for the Red Bull exit before F1 2024 is done, with Ricciardo’s stand-in Liam Lawson instead given the opportunity to show what he can do alongside Verstappen.

The youngster was both fast and unflappable when thrown in at the deep end with AlphaTauri, traits that arguably would serve a driver very well against the team-mate killer Verstappen.

Oliver Harden: Nico Hulkenberg will not see out the season with Haas.

Hulkenberg enjoyed a fine return to F1 in 2023 from a personal perspective, but struggled to contain his frustration with the team as the season deepened.

His public criticisms – “at this rate, you can’t compete in F1” – are accurate, but Hulk’s home truths will surely touch a nerve with the Haas hierarchy. Another season of struggle will see relations stretched beyond the point of no repair.

Hulkenberg will leave before the end of the year – returning with Sauber in 2025 maybe – with Guenther Steiner potentially following him out the door if Haas find themselves detached at the bottom of the Championship once again.

Something has to give.

Sam Cooper: Following on from Oliver’s driver focused prediction, I am going to suggest that Sergio Perez will not see out the season with Red Bull.

The Mexican has a year left on his deal but did well to keep hold of his seat after the 2023 season. The reason he did so was not because of his performances but rather those of Verstappen’s.

The Dutchman gave Red Bull such a lead that even with Perez underperforming, they walked to the Constructors’ title but what if that is not the case in 2024? Say McLaren or Mercedes or Ferrari or any one of the teams chasing make good ground over the winter, can Red Bull afford to have Perez continue to misfire?

Of all the 10 teams on the grid, Red Bull are the most likely to swap drivers mid-season so should Perez continue to perform below expectation and provided Daniel Ricciardo does well at AlphaTauri, I could see a scenario where the Australian moves up and Perez retires with Liam Lawson filling the vacant AT seat.

Thomas Maher: Sergio Perez will start the season strongly again, but the pressures of knowing he needs to perform will get to him and mistakes will creep in – creating a downward spiral.

Daniel Ricciardo will get his fairytale return to Red Bull, with he and Perez swapping seats in mid-2024. Lawson will get the nod for an AlphaTauri seat for 2025, with Perez given the option to join him.

Bonus pick: I’m predicting an all-new Haas driver line-up for ’25 – perhaps with Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon given Guenther Steiner’s desire for experienced hands.

Read next: F1 2023’s lasting legacy: Big questions over new tech and keeping new fans

We’ve been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2024 Sports Podcast Awards! Your votes would be much appreciated and you can head here to cast. Thank you!