Major Mercedes changes, Red Bull performance query and more burning F1 2024 questions

Sam Cooper
The race gets underway in Abu Dhabi.

A new season means new opportunities for all 10 constructors.

With 52 days until the F1 2024 season begins, we have taken a look at all 10 teams and asked the big question we would most like answering from each.

Three years into the regulations, F1 teams should by now have a good understanding of the rules and we can therefore hopefully expect a closer field in 2024.

And with a number of potential title contenders, here is one question for each of the 10 F1 teams to answer.

Red Bull – Can they do it again?

After a 2023 like that, there is only one real question for Red Bull – can they do it again? The reality is Red Bull themselves set the bar so high that it is hard to see them reach it again.

They won all but one race in 2023 and a look back at the last time that happened, 1988, shows McLaren also experienced somewhat of a come down.

The Senna/Prost outfit won two third of the races in 1989, still quite the achievement but not the same level of dominance they enjoyed the year previously.

Meanwhile for Red Bull, their rivals did make gains during the 2023 season and with the sport entering its third season under the current regulations, it is hard to see how much more performance can be extracted from the design.

Mercedes – Is the slump over?

When does a blip become a pattern? That is the question Mercedes will be asking themselves after two years away from title contention.

After a challenging 2022, the Silver Arrows returned with their infamous zero-pod design in 2023 but, no sooner had it rolled out in Bahrain, the team seemed to decide it was hopeless.

In came a B-spec model but with the cost cap in place, there was always the suggestion that they were limited in how much they could change the car.

Those major changes then will come during this off-season but Mercedes need to return to fighting at the front of the grid if they are to remain a permanent title contender.

Ferrari – Same old Ferrari or is this their year?

The perennial “there’s always next year” team had the same feeling in 2023 when they fell away to become one of many chasing Red Bull.

It was a season of change though. Out went Mattia Binotto and some of the disastrous strategy team with him and in came Fred Vasseur who appears to be starting to leave his fingerprint on the team.

Ferrari admitted their chassis design had a natural ceiling last season so have gone back to the drawing board for 2024 but they are one of a number of teams who need a strong off-season to be considered genuine title contenders.

McLaren – Can progress continue from 2023?

2023 was a big leap for McLaren and one that saw them go from backmarkers to the second quickest team on the grid.

Their mid-season improvement was remarkable but the question now is, can they take another step forward in 2024?

From the outside, the suggestion would be yes. They have a winter break to work on improving their car, new staff hires and two of the best young drivers on the grid.

Put that together with an in-house wind tunnel and it suggests McLaren can be a force in 2024.

Aston Martin – Can they learn from 2023’s mistakes?

The senior staff of Aston Martin were honest when discussing where they went wrong in 2023 and it was their development.

Having started with a quick car, beaten only by Red Bull, the Silverstone team upgraded poorly and by mid-season they found themselves relegated behind the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren.

But considering where they had come from, 2023 can still be seen as a success provided they learn from their mistakes.

Unlike the other top runners, Aston Martin are not previous title winners and while many of those working within the operation are experienced and capable minds, it is only Dan Fallows really who has had a taste of an F1 title-winning operation.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to being a top team and in 2024, Aston Martin will want to prove they are deserving of their place amongst the sport’s elite.

Alpine – Is chaos a thing of the past?

2023 was a chaotic year for Alpine with three of the senior staff members that started the year no longer in their same position by the end of it and in two of the cases, no longer at the company.

Alpine then would be well served to have a calmer 2024. Bruno Famin will continue to lead the team but former Mercedes and Ferrari man Eric Meignan has been brought in to revive their troubled engine department.

It is the engine which will be of most concern given its public lack of performance but while pushing the top five may be a stretch too far, Alpine will want to take a step in the right direction in 2024. recommends

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Williams – Is 2024 another step in the right direction?

If you offered James Vowles another year of progress, he would most likely take that deal.

The former Mercedes motorsport strategy director has been clear that his resuscitation of the Williams team will be a slow process, one years in the making, and to expect real change in just his second year is ambitious.

2023 was a step forward though with the car quick on certain tracks, and Alex Albon’s finish of P13 was proof of that, but while the FW45 excelled in straight lines, to be competitive a car must be a good all-rounder.

Vowles will no doubt continue to look to grow the operation, as much as the CapEx rules allow him, and has also done some shrewd recruiting in the form of Pat Fry which will help the Grove team on their way back to the top.

AlphaTauri – How will the new era begin?

With Franz Tost retiring to run up mountains, AlphaTauri begins a new era and it is not just with a new name.

That name change is expected to come in mid-February but already the next era has begun with CEO Peter Bayer and team principal Laurent Mekies leading the charge.

AlphaTauri will reportedly move closer to the Red Bull operation both physically and structurally after two poor years for the team. In 2024 it should produce better results.

The ceiling for a second team like this is obvious but they have the resources to do far better than the eighth they managed in 2023.

Stake F1 – Just a rebrand or an actual change of purpose?

The Sauber outfit will have another new name in 2024 as crypto brand Stake takes over but the question is, will that just be for commercial purposes or does it represent a change of approach?

Sauber have not exactly pulled up any trees in the last few years and the incoming arrival of Audi in 2026 has appeared to make them too comfortable to just let the years pass by.

But if you are not moving forward, you are being left behind and Sauber need to start putting their best foot forward.

There is also pressure on both of the drivers with Valtteri Bottas reaching the twilight of his career while Zhou Guanyu has still yet to fully convince.

Haas – What next?

After eight seasons of F1, the question for Haas now is what next?

Looking around them, many of the other backmarkers have long-term goals as they hope to move further up the grid but it is difficult to see what the overarching goal of Haas is.

For so long, it was survival but with the MoneyGram money and a cost cap in place, Guenther Steiner does not have to be a makeshift salesman.

In Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg they have capable drivers but both are the wrong side of 30 and unlikely to seriously improve in the years ahead, so Haas must decide what they want.

Do they become like AlphaTauri is to Red Bull with Ferrari and blood young drivers like Oliver Bearman or do they commit to a Williams-esque slow build to the top?

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