F1 2024 season officially up and running as first car hits the track at Barcelona

Oliver Harden
F1 cars heading on track at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023. Results

Cars heading on track at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.

The F1 2024 season is officially up and running after Sauber conducted a filming day at Barcelona on Saturday.

F1 is currently halfway through car launch season with five of the year’s 10 cars – Haas, Williams, Sauber, Alpine and the Red Bull junior team – revealed over the last eight days.

The remaining five – Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull Racing – will be launched over the course of the coming week ahead of the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain on February 21.

Sauber C44 become first F1 2024 car to hit the track

F1 teams are entitled to two filming days with their current car over the course of a season, with most electing to use one between launch and the start of winter testing to collect promotional material as well as establish a basic understanding of their new cars.

In a tweak to the rules for 2024, the amount of running allowed on so-called ‘Promotional Events’ has been doubled from 100 kilometres to 200km.

And after unveiling the new C44 chassis in London on Tuesday, Sauber have become the first team to take to the track with a 2024 car at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday.

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A short clip posted to the team’s official social media accounts showed the C44 heading down the main straight in Barcelona, the current home of F1’s Spanish Grand Prix which has long been renowned as a prime testing venue.

A trackside image of the car widely circulated on social media showed the car navigating Barcelona’s final corner with its alternative Kick branding present on the sidepods.

Sauber announced last month that the team will officially compete as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber in 2024 after agreeing a title sponsorship deal with gambling firm Stake and joint-owned streaming company Kick.

With gambling banned in a number of nations on the F1 calendar – including Bahrain, the host of the only three-day pre-season test as well as the opening race of the new season on March 2, Sauber are expected to replace Stake logos with those of Kick at certain grands prix in 2024.

Sauber were not the only team present at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday, with the McLaren team posting an image from the track at sunrise.

However, PlanetF1.com understands the team are testing their 2022 car at the Spanish track, with the new MCL38 scheduled to be officially launched on Wednesday.

Read next: Revealed: The early technical clues from F1 2024’s first six car launches