F1 2024 declared a ‘rat race with upgrades’ with major swings predicted

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on the Imola 2024 podium.

Lando Norris, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull may have the advantage in the F1 2024 standings, but the last few races have shown Formula 1 is in a “rat race” with big swings predicted.

McLaren kicked off the F1 2024 development war in Miami when they put a ‘2.0’ MCL38 on the track, handing Lando Norris his maiden grand prix win and by a comfortable margin of seven seconds ahead of Max Verstappen.

F1 2024 will just be a rat race with upgrades’

The reigning World Champion was back on the top step of the podium at the next race in Imola – but only just, Norris having hounded him to the line with the gap less than a second.

One race later it was Ferrari who sprayed the victory champagne after Charles Leclerc raced his upgraded SF-24 to the victory ahead of Norris and Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen was, by his standards, a lowly P6 as his RB20 and its stiff suspension struggled on the street circuit’s kerbs and bumps.

The Monaco result marked Red Bull’s third defeat of this season, a sharp contrast to last year’s one in 22 races, while Ferrari are up to two wins with Leclerc just 31 points behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.

But while NOS F1 pundit Louis Dekker believes “something is changing” in Formula 1, he’s all but ruled out a Ferrari title fight.

“I don’t think so, but never say never,” Dekker said. “You could also turn it around: Red Bull has already lost three this year, that didn’t happen last year. So something is changing.

“But from now on it will just be a rat race with upgrades. From now on, every update can change a P5 into a P1.

“However, they [Red Bull’s rivals] are still afraid that Red Bull have a few circuits where the RB20 will go well. Barcelona, ​​for example, a one-two [result] will be a piece of cake.”

The 2024 championship races without Red Bull

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‘The picture of competitiveness for Red Bull is not entirely clear’

But while Red Bull’s rivals are hoping this year’s results are a sign that the tables are turning, they’re not ready to clear space on the mantel for more trophies.

“I think the picture of competitiveness for Red Bull is not entirely clear to me,” said McLaren team boss Andrea Stella.

“Exactly what is going on with Red Bull, I’m not so sure. I think we need a few more races to find out.

“Obviously, we go to the next one in Canada, which is another one which is very demanding on kerbs and bumps. And then I think some tracks after Canada will tell us more about the competitiveness situation.”

However, Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur told the media including PlanetF1.com that Red Bull’s pace advantage has clearly been slashed by both Ferrari and McLaren.

“I think last year they had a very decent gap,” he said. “Sometimes we are able to fight with them in qualy but in the race it was four or five tenths.

“That means that when you are four or five tenths off you are not really at risk. Even if you miss in qualy, like in Jeddah Max started P9 but after three laps he was leading.

“But this season, it’s not the case anymore. It’s not the case with just us, but it’s not the case between Red Bull and McLaren because McLaren are even closer.”

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