F1 2024’s biggest problems: Red Bull saga, Mercedes W15 and more assessed

Sam Cooper
Jamws Vowles, Toto Wolff and Andrea Stella

After four races, we've picked out a problem posed for each team.

With four races of the 2024 season down, we are taking a look at the biggest problem facing all 10 of the F1 constructors.

While the likes of Red Bull will have very little to complain about, teams such as Alpine have a whole list to deal with. Here’s our verdict of the biggest problem facing each constructor.

Red Bull

It could have been easy to put Red Bull’s biggest problem as the size of their trophy cabinet but if we can pick any issues in what has so far been a near-perfect season, then it would be the simmering tension behind the scenes.

The Red Bull civil war does appear to have died down since the start of the season and a potential split has so far been avoided but who knows if that could resurface as the season goes on.

With Christian Horner’s complainant reportedly considering legal action, the matter looks far from over but could that be enough to disrupt the Red Bull apple cart? Max Verstappen’s dominant performances in the opening race, at the peak of the team’s internal issues, would suggest otherwise.

Read next: Red Bull investigation update as friend of Christian Horner complainant speaks out

Ferrari

If we had written this piece two years or even one year ago, this particular section would have been a lot longer.

It is testament then to the work of Fred Vasseur that there isn’t a glaring problem facing Ferrari after four races in 2024.

They are clearly the second quickest car and perhaps can even challenge Red Bull on pace at certain tracks – this may have taken place in Melbourne had it not been for Verstappen’s DNF – and they have already scored 71 more points this season than they did at the same point last year.

Perhaps the only minor flaw you could pick out is trouble with high speed corners, as demonstrated at Suzuka.

This has been a Ferrari issue for a number of years now but they had hoped the SF-24 would have fixed it. However, in Japan, they were still a far way down on pace through the chicane, a problem they will need to fix if they have any real hope of challenging Red Bull later in the year.

McLaren

McLaren have made a far better start to 2024 then the miserable opening to 2023 but they are beginning to find themselves in a bit of a no man’s land.

They trail P2 Ferrari by 51 points and are ahead of Mercedes by 35 but they will have ambitions to move further up the grid.

McLaren’s first set of substantial upgrades will likely come at the start of the European run but could they be too far behind Ferrari by that point?

Another problem could be the reasons behind the sudden departure of David Sanchez but given not much is known about that, we will stick with the car for now.

Mercedes

Sometimes it feels as if it would be easier to staple a jelly to a wall than it would be to get the Mercedes car in the right window.

It is not a new problem for the Silver Arrows and since 2022’s W13, it seems as if Toto Wolff and co. have been left scratching their heads when it comes to car setup.

That problem was again evident at Suzuka with George Russell having a better go of it while Lewis Hamilton had a frustrating afternoon, but if the team have any hope of returning to the front end of the grid, they need to know what their car likes and doesn’t like.

Of course, filling their vacant seat for next year is another problem but Mercedes need to fix their car first if they have any hope of attracting the top talent.

Aston Martin

Since Fernando Alonso joined Aston Martin in 2023, he has contributed 78% of the team’s total points. Of the other nine team-mate pairings, it was only Alex Albon who scored more of his team’s points in that same time period.

That paints a pretty clear picture of what Aston Martin’s main issue is. Right now, they are battling Mercedes for the fourth-best car on the grid but they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back.

A look around the other top teams and it is clear Lance Stroll is the worst driver, meaning Alonso pretty much has to do all the heavy lifting himself. While the two-time World Champion has so far been up to the task, any kind of difficult race for him pretty much knocks the entirety of Aston Martin out of contention.

Aston Martin know this and yet there is only one man within the organisation who has the power to change it.

RB

It is a question that McLaren asked themselves recently – what do we do with Daniel Ricciardo?

It has been a good number of years since Ricciardo put in his best work and he seems a driver who is really affected by confidence. A poor start to the year, made all the worse by Yuki Tsunoda’s performances, seem to have him once again questioning his ability.

There is a real fight to be at the front of the backmarkers and RB need a fully firing Ricciardo if they want to get ahead.

Read next: RB’s rough start will have Daniel Ricciardo asking existential questions

Williams

In Australia, Williams became the first constructor in two years unable to field two cars and Albon’s crash only served to shine a spotlight on the organisational issues within the team.

Having only recently graduated from Microsoft Excel, the team is far behind the rest in terms of capability at the moment and with both drivers prone to incidents this year, Williams are dangerously close to the line when it comes to spare parts.

They suffered the price of that in Melbourne and with Albon’s chassis back in the UK for some much-needed repairs after Suzuka, they are going to be vulnerable until at least Miami when they will bring a spare chassis.

For a once great team, Williams has clearly fallen well behind the pack in terms of an organisation and that is team principal James Vowles’ biggest challenge.

Read next: What’s going on at Williams? Crunch time for James Vowles as pressure mounts

Haas

I will be the first to admit that I did not see this Haas form coming. Heading into a new season with an inexperienced team principal and a car that had plenty of issues in 2023, they looked a dead cert to be bottom of the standings.

And yet, Ayao Komatsu has mastermind a surprisingly good start to the campaign. Nico Hulkenberg continues to produce wonders on the Saturday (or Friday) but the Haas car is still struggling to convert quali pace into race pace. Solve that riddle and Haas will be a consistent challenger for the last point-paying spot.

Stake F1

The easiest entry on this list comes at Stake where their pit stops have provided the comedic element of the season so far.

Stake’s racing director Xevi Pujolar confirmed that “the crew are doing everything correctly” and that the issues are instead a result of “a problem with the hardware” but that will be of little comfort to Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

The most alarming statistic is that the pair have already racked up more time in the pits this season than Carlos Sainz did for the entirety of 2023. That is the first issue that needs to be solved before thoughts turn to car performance.

Alpine

If it was difficult to find a major problem with either Red Bull or Ferrari, it is hard to nail Alpine’s issues down to just one.

We will start with the people and there has been an exodus of talent lately. Technical director Matt Harman was the latest to go as Alpine switched to a McLaren-esque structure but before him Pat Fry, Alan Permane and Otmar Szafnauer represented a considerable amount of experience heading out the door.

The car is nowhere near where it needs to be and Alpine’s admission that they would be behind at the start of the season has emphatically come true but, with a lack of technical leaders, the question now is can they catch up?

Oh and then there is the engine. The worst performing on the grid and not fancied by any of the customer teams.

Read next: F1 2024 power rankings: Carlos Sainz’s No.1 spot under threat, surprise driver in sixth