Ranked: Six drivers (sort of) who have made poor first F1 2024 impression

Michelle Foster
Lance Stroll Daniel Ricciardo Logan Sargeant 3 driver pic

It hasn't been a great start to the season for Daniel Ricciardo

In a near rinse and repeat of last year’s usual suspects, that Daniel Ricciardo finds his name on the list of 2024’s poor starters does not bode well for him.

Two races into the 2024 F1 season and unless your name is Max Verstappen, there are still improvements to be made. For some, though, that curve is already very steep.

There’s a lot of room for improvement for…

5. Daniel Ricciardo

Back with RB for a full season that’s supposed to be an audition against Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez for the latter’s 2025 Red Bull race seat, Daniel Ricciardo has arguably dropped to third on that list.

The Honey Badger has done very little in the opening two races to show Red Bull he has the ability to match Max Verstappen, never mind beat him. After all, he can’t even beat Tsunoda.

Outqualified by his team-mate in back-to-back races, Ricciardo went from a disadvantage of a tenth in Bahrain to half a second down in Saudi Arabia. It didn’t get any better in the races.

He needed the team to get involved in Bahrain to pass Tsunoda, the only glory in that being how Ricciardo handled his team-mate’s meltdown, while a spin in Saudi, and doing so right in front of Perez as the latter came to lap him, have not seen the eight-time Grand Prix winner stamp his authority on the Red Bull seat.

In fact, today if RB want to put last year’s super sub Liam Lawson in the car, one wouldn’t be surprised if they leaned toward Ricciardo’s seat.

It’s early days, he may still be shaking off the rust from his months away from the grid, but his 2021/22 troubles at McLaren suggest that unless Ricciardo gets comfortable and quickly, it could steamroll. And that could result in yet another short-lived stint with a team.

4. Kevin Magnussen

Creative defending, so creative it earned him a 20-second penalty, is about the only compliment one can give Kevin Magnussen in his start to the season. Dare I say, potentially the start to his last season in F1.

After last year’s B-spec Haas seemed to suit him just a little bit more than Nico Hulkenberg, Magnussen entered this season at least hoping to be on a par with his team-mate. But there’s been no sign of that with the German on top in qualifying and the races.

Magnussen was destroyed by Hulkenberg in qualifying at round one, seven-tenths down with his team-mate going on to put his VF-24 up into the top ten. We’ll never know if Saudi could’ve been a repeat as an electrical problem meant Hulkenberg could not set a time in Q2.

But despite starting behind his team-mate at the Jeddah circuit, he blitzed him in the Grand Prix to score Haas’ first point of the season.

Magnussen may have been praised for sacrificing his race to help Hulkenberg, but it involved very sloppy defending against Albon and Tsunoda that was rightly penalised.

On a day when Haas reserve and Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman put in a flawless performance to score points on his debut, Haas’ higher-ups may re-evaluate the team’s old stance on rookie racers.

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3. Lance Stroll

Okay, hands up, who had a Lance Stroll DNF on their ‘first for F1 2024’ bingo card? Yes, Pierre Gasly pipped him to that, but that was the car, not the driver.

Picking up where they left off in 2023, the divide between the Aston Martin team-mates continues to be glaringly obvious with Stroll 0-2 in qualifying, and 0-2 in the race. The only stat he is winning? Crashes. There he’s 1-0.

In the first two race weekends of this season, Alonso was four-tenths faster than Stroll in qualifying while in the points he’s ahead by 12 to 1.

Stroll did a solid job in Bahrain only for a churlish moment in Saudi Arabia to… can’t say blot his copybook given F1 knows Stroll has those moments.

Crashing early in the Saudi race, Stroll’s race engineer asked if he could bring the car back to the pits. He sarcastically replied: “No, I’m in the f***ing wall!”

Yes, because you put the car in the wall. By the way, no one else did, not even the rookie with a mere hour of F1 practice under his belt.

Often billed as the most secure driver on the F1 grid, surely someone needs to point out to Lawrence that his son is not losing, he’s being destroyed, and by the oldest driver on the grid. Again.

2. Logan Sargeant

Oh Logan, where for art thou Logan? Oh there, at the back. I should’ve known.

Saved despite a dismal 2023 rookie campaign, Williams team boss James Vowles said before the first race of this season that he needs to see progress from Logan Sargeant. Alas, that’s been in short supply.

P18 on the Bahrain grid, he was P19 in Saudi Arabia where only Zhou Guanyu’s lengthy repair job and failure to set a time potentially saved him from P20. His team-mate Alex Albon was 13th and 12th respectively.

Fast forward 24 hours and he was last in Bahrain where his efforts were hampered by a steering wheel problem and then P14 at the Jeddah circuit. In both races, he was well down on Albon.

This year there are no excuses. Sargeant knows the tracks, he knows the team, and unless he makes huge strides forward in the coming races, Williams will soon know this isn’t going to work out.

1. Alpine (Gasly/Ocon)

It’s almost unfair to put Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon on the list, after all, overweight and slow and a few other choice words are the only ways to describe the A524, not the drivers.

Braced for a difficult start to the season, little did either driver realise just how difficult it would be.

Dropping out of Q1 in both races, and actually locking out the back row in Bahrain before crossing the line in formation, and well outside of the points one after the other, it was only Gasly’s gearbox issue that potentially ended that unified misery.

The team-mates have not said who was happier in Jeddah; Gasly for not having to drive the car or Ocon for being the first of the lapped cars.

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