Until Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024
Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024
Due to exceptional demand, we have continued to expand our hospitality offerings. This year, we are delighted to offer The Dome Lounge by F1 Experiences, as well as The Champions Club, both tailor-made in response to the massive interest in hospitality options for the grand prix. In addition, the ultimate in world-class hospitality is available in The Paddock Cub Please note that Corporate boxes for 2024 are now sold out.View More
Are Red Bull’s rivals finally catching up?
Are Red Bull’s rivals finally catching up? Analysis of the Unites States Grand Prix, brought to you by Bahrain International Circuit
With the driver and constructors’ championship already sewn up with five race weekends to go, attention in F1 is focused on 2024 and the million-dollar question of which, if any, teams can mount a proper challenge to Red Bull next year. With no substantial rule changes for 2024, the final races are a chance for teams to bring continuous car updates to ensure they are best placed for the start of next season. At the same time, there is still plenty to play for in the constructors’ championship, with significant prize money at stake depending on a team’s final classification at the end of the year. Whilst that split on funds is not typically disclosed, one position difference can mean several million dollars to a team, depending on how far up the table they are. It’s certainly enough to want to keep one eye on ensuring you can deliver as much performance as possible for a 2023 car, whilst also developing a 2024 package.
For Austin this weekend, several teams brought major upgrades, most notably Mercedes and Aston Martin, whilst McLaren was seeking to continue its run of podium finishes after introducing a remarkable set of upgrades in recent weeks. On paper, the Mercedes upgrades looked to be incredibly strong. Hamilton crossed the line just two seconds behind Verstappen, who came through from sixth for a 50th win for the Dutchman. It could have been even better for Hamilton, as he was regularly quicker than Verstappen, but a planned one stop strategy did not work out and a forced second pit stop meant he had to come back though the field to cross the line in second place. However, some four hours after the race, Hamilton’s car was found to be in breach of a technical regulation related to the size of his skid block, located on the floor of the car. It’s a prescribed part of the car that is designed to achieve a minimum height. If it runs too low – as was the case with Hamilton- it offers an aerodynamic advantage. On that basis, we are potentially no clearer in understanding whether Mercedes are indeed back competing at the front, but you have to think that they are not too far away at this point. After the race (but before the stewards decision) team boss Toto Wolf was confident that they do now have a car to beat Red Bull. It will be an intriguing last few races for the Silver Arrows to see how much of this promise can come to fruition.
At the other end of the scale, Aston Martin’s upgrades provided further disappointment for a team whose struggles continue. When a driver for a competing team makes the observation that every upgrade seems to make you car go slower, as Lando Norris said of Aston Martin this weekend, it lays bare how significant those challenges are. Further, with Norris taking second place in Austin, McLaren are now ahead of Aston Martin in the championship, which would have sounded rather unlikely just a few months ago.
As for Ferrari, the issue seems to be all about consistency. Sainz qualified fourth and finished fourth and was just a few seconds behind Norris. Leclerc managed to qualify in pole for this race and said he was extremely surprised with that performance. When it came to the race, the one stop strategy decision didn’t work in his favour and he crossed the line in sixth. To make matters worse, he was later disqualified for the same technical fault as Hamilton. You get the sense that with more consistency (and therefore better drivability), combined with strategic improvements under Frédéric Vasseur who came in this year, Ferrari ought to be right in the mixer. It’s easy to forget that they had a strong start under the current era of regulations, winning two out of the first three races in 2022, including here in Bahrain.
For the moment, however, there seems to be no stopping the Max Verstappen train. Whilst the pack seems to be catching up with him, it remains to be seen if any teams can genuinely fight for the top spot of the podium with four races to go.
Off the track, the big news of the week was the addition of yet more global celebrities investing in the Alpine F1 team. Golfer Rory McIlroy, boxer Anthony Joshua, Liverpool footballer Trent Alexander-Arnold and NFL star Patrick Mahomes have all joined the investor group. It’s another sign of the global appeal that is benefiting the sport currently.
The other intriguing story, which looks set to run for some time, is the possibility of an 11th team entering F1 in 2026. The FIA ran a process and subsequently approved Andretti to enter F1, with a proposed start in 2026. The process now moves to F1 and its owners Liberty Media for commercial discussions. Andretti is a massive name in global motorsport, with Michael Andretti an ex-F1 driver for McLaren and his father Mario a former F1 World Champion. They are already involved in IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E to name just a few. It will be the job of F1 to balance the attraction of such a big name against commercial considerations, including the potential impact on existing teams.
F1 moves 1,000km south to Mexico City for the next race this weekend.