Why F1 fans should get excited for the rest of 2024

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris' McLaren-Red Bull battle has reignited the F1 World Championship

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As an ironic tribute to the way Liberty Media have revolutionised Formula 1‘s image and place in the sporting world, the 2024 season started with a sense that it was stuck in the shadow of its own largess.

In the same way that more people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials than the game itself, the season was seemingly playing out on-track with the principal aim of supporting the drama off it – including Christian Horner, Lewis Hamilton and the host of other driver market gossip.

Races like the biblically mind-numbing 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix were to be tolerated simply to provide a stage for the F1 stories that were making the front pages as well as the back, thanks largely to the way Liberty has grown F1 in the general public’s consciousness.

But not so any more. With Lando Norris‘ epic battles with Max Verstappen at the Miami and Emilia Romagna GPs, the season has belatedly arrived and is showing no signs of slowing down with the tantalising promise of much more to come from F1’s newest rivalry.

McLaren have joined the party

McLaren F1 launch bespoke Senna livery for the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren
F1 launch bespoke Senna livery for the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren

Lando Norris has finished the last two races as comfortably faster than Max Verstappen with both drivers pushing to their absolute limit. When was the last time any driver was able to say that compared to the Dutchman? 2022? 2021?

The scale of McLaren‘s turnaround since the doldrums of the mid-2010s – or even early 2023 – is hard to hyperbolise as they’ve seemingly made noticeable progress with every single upgrade to the car.

Norris is rightfully earning the plaudits, but it’s also worth highlighting Sergio Perez‘s Emilia Romagna GP compared to Oscar Piastri or Carlos Sainz. He was comprehensively outperformed by both lower-finishing drivers for Red Bull‘s main rivals and couldn’t even consistently challenge Mercedes.

It’s a marked change from his mid-2023 funk when Perez only finished outside the top 6 once in the entire European season – at Monaco – despite missing Q3 in five consecutive races.

Meanwhile this upturn more than justifies Norris‘ decision to commit his future to McLaren. At Miami and Imola, the battle for the lead has resembled that of 2021 with two drivers performing in another league to the rest of the grid, in their own world at the front while everyone else fights to be best of the rest.

While Norris‘ class compared to Lewis Hamilton or even Charles Leclerc or Fernando Alonso is still to be gauged, there’s no doubting that he and Verstappen are THE form drivers in F1 right now and they’ve finally got machinery that’s equal enough to see that rivalry play out.

But 2024 as a whole may have more in common with 2019, incidentally when the VerstappenHamilton rivalry really started to simmer.

Mercedes flew out of the blocks winning all of the first eight races and recording 1-2s in six of those, with both championships effectively wrapped up before the end of June. But the field closed up for the meat of the European season to scintillating effect.

Fans were treated to a string of summer hits at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, Hockenheim, the Hungaroring and Monza as a driver would win consecutive races just once for the rest of the season and the top step of the podium saw five different inhabitants.

And the ingredients could be there for a similar upturn in 2024. For one, the stages will largely be the same (though Hockenheim is sorely missed – at least we got Qatar, eh?) while there’s a host of talent across the top teams capable of racing to victory.

The toll of so many (self-inflicted and otherwise) penalties on Red Bull is finally showing on track and McLaren and Ferrari both appear there to pick up the pieces, plus there’s always the possibility of Mercedes, Aston Martin or even another challenger emerging in the fight at the very front over such a long season.

Red Bull house is crumbling

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Christian Horner take in the RB20, Red Bull’s 2024 F1 car | Total-Motorsport.com

Just five months into 2024 and it’s scarcely believable how quickly Red Bull‘s illusion of invisibility has shattered.

Verstappen, Horner, Adrian Newey, and Helmut Marko have been their four towering, unwavering pillars since at least 2016, yet incredibly the Red Bull futures of each has been openly and legitimately questioned this season.

Newey has already made his last contribution to a Red Bull F1 car, Marko looked like he’d beat him out of the door earlier this year and there’s still the lingering feeling that only one of he or Horner can survive long-term, and Verstappen‘s been far from committal to staying put in Milton Keynes.

This is still the team that will likely win both 2024 world championships, has taken victory in 43 out of the last 49 grand prix – a run stretching back to April 2022 – and look set to be contenders every weekend for the rest of the season.

But the end is in sight. Not just of Red Bull‘s current run of dominance, but of the foundations that built it. Don’t forget, Let It Be was a successful album for the Beatles too, but F1’s own fab four are into a similar last hurrah whatever the future holds.

Storylines galore… Up and down the grid

Remember how crazy F1’s silly season was two years ago? Alonso‘s shock departure, THAT Piastri tweet, three rookies joining the grid and Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo heading the other way. Well, that could just be a prequel for the summer of 2024.

Over half of F1’s seats for next season are officially up for grabs with plenty of big names up for grabs and an expected influx of talent from outside the current grid making every single race potentially make-or-break for someone.

There’s also the continued Andretti rumblings while we wait for Audi to complete their puzzle, and it’s expected that the investigation into Horner still has more to give.

Have we see Hamilton on the top step of the podium for the final time as a Mercedes driver? We may even have seen Hamilton on the podium for the final time as a Silver Arrow, but given how their rivals have shown the leaps forward that are possible under these regulations it’s impossible to count that out just yet.

And what’s so brilliant for F1 fans is that most of these storylines will finally play out with drama both on and off track. So strap in, it’s about to get serious.

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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