The F1 2024 season will mark another big year in the sport, but also a host of milestones from years gone by.
We’ve narrowed down our choices for significant anniversaries to five-year intervals (if we did every year, we’d be here forever), but even at this gap we noticed an awful lot of F1 history will come up for landmark times since those moments occurred this year.
Some are tragic, some are huge sporting achievements, but all are important in the context of Formula 1. There are no doubt some other worthy inclusions that will have been overlooked, but here are our choices for dates to look out for in 2024.
14 March – five years since the death of Charlie Whiting
The F1 world was rocked in the days leading up to the start of the 2019 season when long-serving race director Charlie Whiting passed away aged 66.
An enormous figure in the fight for safety in motorsport, respected throughout the paddock and F1’s ‘referee’ for so long, his influence will remain for years to come.
Whiting was credited for the introduction of safety measures such as the Halo, which has been lauded on multiple occasions for protecting drivers’ heads in accidents.
29 March – 15 years since the Brawn GP miracle took flight
The 2009 season was seminal for many reasons in Formula 1.
The arrival of KERS [Kinetic Energy Recovery System] power boost was a pre-cursor to ERS, a critical element of the F1 engines of today; in-season testing was banned as part of big cost-cutting measures put in place by the FIA, and the Honda F1 team was rescued by Ross Brawn so it could go racing.
A huge regulation change had already meant the cars were radically different for 2009, but a deal that meant Brawn ended up paying Honda £1 for the team (there’s a docuseries about the team that’s well worth watching, in case you haven’t heard).
What would have been the 2009 Honda was taken on by Brawn, named eponymously and – without prior knowledge and so much as a spare penny – was the fastest car in the field.
March 29 represents 15 years since the Australian Grand Prix that would kickstart Jenson Button’s title-winning season, with the Briton winning six of the first seven races and clinching the World Championship with a race to spare in one of sport’s most remarkable stories.
6 April – 10 years since the Duel in the Desert
Can it really be coming up to a decade since that night in Bahrain?
Yes, it can.
F1 had already taken a huge step for 2014 in moving to V6 hybrid power – almost enough for its own place on this list – and, let’s be honest, that year’s cars were not the best-looking bunch.
With the cars significantly slower than before, Mercedes established themselves as the early dominant force and in the third race of the new era Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg went toe to toe in Bahrain for a race-long dice that would later be dubbed the ‘Duel in the Desert.’
Not only was it a phenomenal race between two leading cars, it sowed the seeds for what would be a fascinating narrative for the next three title fights.
The 2014 season also featured a controversial double points race at the finale in Abu Dhabi, but Rosberg’s P14 finish and Hamilton’s win at Yas Marina sealed the Briton’s second title.
30 April/1 May – 30 years since the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna
Inarguably one of the most significant weekends in F1 history, and one of its most tragic, with two drivers losing their lives in the space of a day at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
The first was Roland Ratzenberger, running in his debut Formula 1 season, who crashed out of qualifying at Villeneuve and suffered fatal injuries after hitting a concrete wall at almost 200mph.
The paddock was already in mourning going into race day before Senna’s Williams left the road at Tamburello on Lap 7 and hit the concrete wall, with the impact killing him instantly.
The outpouring of emotion surrounding the weekend’s events led great F1 commentator Murray Walker to describe the event as “the blackest day for Grand Prix racing I can remember.”
The changes made to the sport since that weekend have been enormous, with the push for improved safety always ongoing to make F1 as safe as possible.
22 August – 70 years since Juan Manuel Fangio wins second title in unmatched fashion
The great Juan Manuel Fangio earned his second of five Drivers’ Championships at the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix, but what makes this title stand out is that he is the only driver ever to win a title while racing for two different constructors in the same season.
Winning the Argentine and Belgian Grands Prix with Maserati, the arrival of Mercedes saw Fangio make the switch to the German marque when they entered F1 partway through the 1954 season with the sleek, streamlined W196.
It proved to be the right move too, winning four of the remaining six races as a Mercedes driver in 1954 to have the title wrapped up with two rounds to spare.
29 August – 20 years since Michael Schumacher secured his last Drivers’ Championship
At the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher capped off a dominant World Championship with a P2 finish at Spa-Francorchamps, extending his record to seven titles.
What wasn’t known at the time, however, is that it would be his last in Formula 1.
While non-Ferrari/Schumi supporters were likely getting fed up of the sight of the F1 great on top of the podium and hearing the combination of the German and Italian national anthems on an almost weekly basis, this latest title would truly mark the end of an era.
The F2004 would break a lot of lap records on its way to title glory that season and, with Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello behind the wheel, it represented the end of one of the great eras of Formula 1 success.
9 September – 45 years since Jody Scheckter was crowned Africa’s first F1 World Champion
If you were to ask any child who loves F1 about their dream way in which to win a title, clinching it for Ferrari – at Monza – is probably the way that anyone would choose to do it.
Well, in 1979, that’s how Jody Scheckter managed it, and 2024 marks 45 years since he did so.
While Scuderia team-mate Gilles Villeneuve dutifully followed behind Scheckter, their one-two finish also secured Constructors’ glory at Monza in what was Ferrari’s 300th race start in F1. Not a bad weekend all round.
Scheckter remains the African continent’s only World Champion to date.
5 October – 10 years since Jules Bianchi’s fatal crash in Japan
At a rain-soaked Suzuka in 2014, one of the brightest young talents in F1 was taken after a freak accident.
At the Dunlop Curve, Jules Bianchi slid into the gravel trap and collided with a recovery vehicle that was already tending to another stranded car which had gone off the lap beforehand.
This left Bianchi with severe head injuries from which he would never recover and he passed away on 17 July 2015, aged just 25.
Significant steps have been taken surrounding the procedures of car recovery after Bianchi’s accident, but many of the current grid still race on in his memory, not least his godson, Charles Leclerc.
To this day, Bianchi’s car number, 17, is the only one unavailable to new drivers entering F1 having been retired following his death.
21 October – 40 years since Niki Lauda wins final F1 title by the barest of margins
Not the first time Alain Prost was involved in a tight title decider on this list (more on that shortly), the 1984 Portuguese Grand Prix saw Niki Lauda do what he had to do against his young McLaren team-mate to earn his third and final World Championship.
Having diced with the Frenchman all season in a car that was the class of the field, Lauda dutifully finished second behind Prost, knowing that was all he needed to secure title glory by just half a point come the end of the season.
His final F1 campaign in 1985 would be plagued by retirements, but the legend of Lauda had already been secured as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
22 October – 35 years since Prost and Senna collide in title decider at Suzuka
Japan 1989 and *that* collision.
“This is the opportunity that Senna is looking for, and he’s going through… Out! Oh my goodness!” pic.twitter.com/ceU3AOaAgM
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 13, 2021
“This is the opportunity that Senna is looking for, and he’s going through… Out! Oh my goodness! This is fantastic! They meet! This is what we were fearing might happen during the race!”
To say tensions were bubbling at McLaren between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost was putting it politely and, on 22 October 1989, the title was on the line as the two drivers fought for the lead.
Senna looked to lunge at the Casio Chicane, Prost shut the door and they collided.
The Frenchman was out of the race, believing the title was won, and while Senna was able to get going again and cross the line first – making the Brazilian believe the title was his – a nasty surprise was waiting for the Brazilian.
Having cut the chicane and used the escape road to rejoin the track following his collision with Prost, he was disqualified from the race, handing Prost the title back.
Senna protested, believing this to be a personal decision of then-FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre to rule in Prost’s favour, but both Balestre and the race stewards vehemently denied this to be the case.
25 October – 60 years since John Surtees wins a unique World Championship
The 1964 F1 season was hotly-contested throughout, with the British trio of John Surtees, Graham Hill and Jim Clark going hammer and tongs for glory all year long.
Double World Champion Hill holds a unique distinction of his own in that he is the only driver to have won all three of motorsport’s Triple Crown events [the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours], eventual two-time champion Clark is highly regarded enough to be placed among the all-time greats in his own right, but by finishing second at the Mexican Grand Prix, Surtees set himself apart in a different way.
Surtees had already arrived in F1 as a World Champion on motorcycles, winning three titles on 350cc machinery and four titles in the 500cc category and, with his podium at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, he made himself the first person (and only one, so far) to win World Championships on both two and four wheels.