F1 season begins in Bahrain, hunt for Verstappen is on

Bahrain will be the scene, from Thursday to Saturday, of the first Grand Prix of the new Formula 1 season.

F1 season begins in Bahrain, hunt for Verstappen is on

Bahrain will be the scene, from Thursday to Saturday, of the first Grand Prix of the new Formula 1 season. Triple reigning world champion, Max Verstappen will undoubtedly still be very difficult to beat this year.

Will the 2024 Formula 1 season hold more suspense than the previous one? We would like to say yes, but there is room for doubt. Untouchable last year, the Red Bull team, victorious in 21 of the 22 Grands Prix contested (a record), still seems to have a good margin over the competition at the end of the three days of official testing carried out between the 21st and on February 23 in Bahrain. On the Sakhir circuit, which is hosting the first race of the season this weekend, the RB20 of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez showed that it would still be extremely competitive despite the risk taken by the Austrian team to change the concept of the single-seater with in particular new pontoons for a vertical air inlet.

This at least indicates that the manufacturer does not intend to rest on its laurels. Yet its domination over other brands, starting with the prestigious Mercedes and Ferrari teams, has never been equaled in the history of Formula 1. Just like the hegemony of a driver, Max Verstappen, crowned the last year world champion for the third time in a row with a new record for points (575) and victories (18). The gap of 290 points with his runner-up in the drivers’ standings – his teammate Sergio Perez – alone sums up the Dutchman’s supremacy. The only downside at Red Bull is the "Christian Horner affair", its boss, targeted by an internal complaint for inappropriate behavior, even if the investigation carried out within the team was dismissed on Wednesday, the day before first free practice sessions of the season.

Does Red Bull's omnipotence mean that boredom will be the redundant guest at the 24 Grands Prix on the 2024 calendar? Probably not, but we will probably have to look elsewhere than in the race for first place in the world championship for the spice of a season without any rookies, which until then had only happened in 1951 and 1969. fight for second place among manufacturers between Mercedes, Ferrari and even McLaren, Lewis Hamilton's last season at the wheel of a Mercedes before he joins Ferrari at the end of the year, the behavior of the Alpine team for whom the first official tests were worrying, the rumors of transfers which could concern several renowned drivers who will or could change teams (Perez, Sainz, Alonso, Ricciardo)... the subjects worthy of interest will still be numerous.

With its 15 bends, four straights and 3 DRS zones, the Sakhir circuit, introduced to the calendar 20 years ago, can sometimes offer spectacular races, as was the case in 2022 during the high-speed duel between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen which had finally turned to the advantage of the Monegasque driver. A Grand Prix full of twists and turns, that's what Formula 1 really needs to get off to a good start in a season that most observers consider quite monotonous.

Due to Ramadan, the start date of which has been set for the evening of Sunday March 10, the first two races of the season, scheduled in countries with a large Muslim majority (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia), will exceptionally be contested on a Saturday. The first day of the opening Grand Prix of the 2024 season will therefore take place on Thursday with the first two free practice sessions on the program for the 20 drivers. The start of the Grand Prix will be at 4 p.m., i.e. at 6 p.m. in the Persian Gulf country.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will be broadcast exclusively on the channels of the Canal group, holder of the rights to the Formula 1 world championship. You will have to tune into Canal Sport to watch the drivers compete during the first two days while the Grand Prix on Saturday , will be broadcast on Canal.

The 2024 Formula 1 season will feature 24 Grands Prix. It will begin at the end of February in Bahrain and end at the beginning of December in Abu Dhabi. Here is the complete F1 2024 calendar with times given in French time: