F1 2024 title race declared ON as Red Bull face increasing double threat

Oliver Harden
Charles Leclerc waves to the crowd as a smiling Max Verstappen looks on with a group of McLaren mechanics in the background

Could Charles Leclerc beat Max Verstappen to the F1 2024 title?

Jean Alesi believes McLaren could prove to be an “important ally” to Ferrari in the fight against Red Bull for the F1 2024 World Championships.

Having won all but one race in F1 2023 as Max Verstappen eased to a third consecutive World Championship, Red Bull had been expected to dominate once again in F1 2024.

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Yet despite winning four of the first five races – including three one-two finishes as Sergio Perez finished second to Verstappen in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan – Red Bull have appeared increasingly vulnerable over recent weeks, winning just one of the last three.

With Lando Norris triumphing for McLaren in Miami and Charles Leclerc winning from pole position at the last race in Monaco, Red Bull’s lead in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings has been significantly reduced.

Verstappen – who likened his Red Bull RB20 to a go-kart in Monte Carlo due to its inability to absorb kerbs, bumps and camber changes – heads into this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix leading Leclerc by 31 points, with Red Bull now just 24 ahead of Ferrari.

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With 16 races remaining in F1 2024, former Ferrari driver Alesi, who claimed his only grand prix victory at Montreal in 1995, sees no reason why the Scuderia cannot challenge Red Bull for both titles.

And he believes a resurgent McLaren can help the Ferrari cause by taking points valuable away from Red Bull as the season progresses.

Asked if Ferrari can target the Constructors’ Championship, Alesi told the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com: “Not only that.

“There are 16 more grands prix on the calendar and Ferrari seems to me to be on the rise. And then there is also an important ally that can help beat Red Bull and I am talking about McLaren.”

Alesi’s comments come after Carlos Sainz, who claimed Ferrari’s first victory of the F1 2024 season at the Australian Grand Prix, claimed “common sense” dictates that Red Bull remains “favourites” for the title.

He told media including PlanetF1.com: “I think my common sense tells me that on normal tracks Red Bull should still be favourites.

“Domination, like we were seeing, hopefully not. But favourites, yes.

“And then it will be a very tight fight with both McLaren and us. I think we are all three at a very similar level.

“I think Ferrari we will have our opportunities. I think McLaren will have their opportunities.

“But when I talk about a normal track, we can talk about maybe a Barcelona.

“I think Canada is quite specific but a Barcelona or any European track, what I consider to be a normal track, I still think Red Bull will be favourites, but I don’t think they’ll dominate like they used to do.

“That’s good news for the championship. And it’s just worth being within a tenth or two in qualifying, that even if they’re favourites, they cannot afford to do any mistakes.

“And that’s where both Ferrari and McLaren, we can capitalise, which is a position that in Bahrain, race one [of F1 2024], no one was [able] to be there.”

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