F1 teams ranked after 2024 pre-season testing

Eight different occupied drivers occupied the top three at the end of each day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain

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The Formula 1 world shifts its focus to the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix after three fast-paced days of testing that answered some of the big pre-season questions but posed just as many new ones.

Carlos Sainz set the benchmark on day two with his 1:29.921 lap, while Charles Leclerc also topped the timesheets in the final session to provide some pushback to Max Verstappen‘s one-second lead on day one.

Sainz went four-tenths quicker than Sergio Perez‘s pace-setting lap from 2023 testing, but came up just short against Verstappen‘s pole position time from 12 months ago, and Red Bull remain the favourites heading into the first Rawe Ceek of 2024. But how close is everyone else? And who are their most dangerous challengers?

An important disclaimer to get out of the way is that this isn’t a constructors’ championship prediction. A lot can change over a season and that’s especially true ahead of the longest-ever F1 campaign.

With pre-season running the shortest it’s ever been in the homologated era, the opening period of the year is almost an extension of testing, with so many opportunities to make up points later on – as McLaren showed in 2023.

In this exercise last season we predicted one correct position in the final constructors’ championship – no prizes for guessing which – but we did nail a much improved… One correct position in the team standings post-Bahrain GP.

10. Haas

Nico Hulkenberg shares a joke with his engineer on the first day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Simon Galloway/LAT Images / Haas F1 Team
Nico Hulkenberg shares a joke with his engineer on the first day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Simon Galloway/LAT Images / Haas F1 Team

Haas covered the most mileage of anyone on two out of three days in Bahrain, but still seem off the pace on both short and long-running.

Ayao Komatsu‘s technical squad also seemingly remain in the dark over how to best manage the Pirelli tyres, and only have five days to analyse the 441 laps of data amassed before their first (albeit slim) opportunity at points.

Haas are facing yet another season of anonymity unless they buck up their ideas in 2024, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find a competitive reason for their continued existence on the F1 grid.

Kevin Magnussen‘s unlikely Interlagos pole was fun in 2022, but there’s been precious little to cheer outside of that. If they don’t finish at least seventh in the coming season it will have been six years in the bottom three of the constructors’ championship, and they’ve produced just two top-six grand prix finishes since the turn of the decade.

9. Williams

In contrast to the slow but serene Haas, Williams had a much more volatile (though not much quicker) test. They still seem to be behind the eight-ball after an apparently hectic fortnight between launching the FW46 in New York and landing in Bahrain, with Alex Albon the only driver in testing to pull up on track due to a mechanical fault.

There is potential in the car but Williams still have work to do to unlock it, as the numbers paint a gap to the next gaggle of teams ahead of the opening grand prix.

8. Sauber

Valtteri Bottas takes on the first sector of the Bahrain International Circuit for Sauber during 2024 F1 pre-season testing | Kick Sauber F1 Team
Valtteri Bottas takes on the first sector of the Bahrain International Circuit for Sauber during 2024 F1 pre-season testing | Kick Sauber F1 Team

It’s a shame we’re not ranking the brightest teams of pre-season testing, because Sauber would have that all locked up. In a year of mostly conservative liveries, Sauber and RB both really stand out on track, which is a good job because the Swiss team may once again struggle to pick out the TV cameras otherwise in 2024.

Zhou‘s glory run to third on the final day was welcome, but while Sauber have made a step forward from 2023 they don’t seem to have made a bigger step than any of the teams around them and seventh-place in the constructors’ championship already looks like their ceiling.

7. Alpine

Definitely a team who haven’t shown their full hand just yet, Alpine only recorded one top-seven finish over the three days of testing as they pursued an unorthodox run plan for the second consecutive year.

Based on previous years, we’ll give them a spoonful of benefit of the doubt that there is more performance on the A524 than was shown at the Bahrain International Circuit, but Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon both lapping at the high end of the 1:30s on long runs is still a major cause for concern.

6. RB

RB drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda talk in the garage on the opening day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
RB drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda talk in the garage on the opening day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Only three teams finished in the top five on every day of testing, so you’ve got to reward the optimism ariybd RB if nothing else. They were 0.020, 0.105 and 0.015 seconds behind the next-best driver on each day, a list that reads Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. Not bad company, eh?

But it wasn’t just the headline times. Daniel Ricciardo‘s monster 24-lap stint on Friday mid-afternoon was the longest by any driver all week and he actually got faster in the second half – particularly noteworthy given the less-than-ideal track conditions.

RB haven’t yet proven that they can break into the podium fight, but do seem to have carried the momentum from 2023 through the winter break and it’d be a surprise if they don’t reach Q3 with at least one car, then score points at the Bahrain GP.

5. McLaren

McLaren may have fallen the most in these rankings on day three, and they’re also arguably the hardest team to read heading into the Bahrain GP.

That’s partly thanks to reliability issues – there seemed to be a problem with the floor on the first day that delayed Lando Norris from getting out of the garage, and his running was curtailed further thanks to a clutch problem on Friday.

It’s hard to read too much into his second and fourth-place finishes on the first two days, and Oscar Piastri didn’t get chance to do a glory run on Friday as he needed to make up for Norris‘ lost laps – and put in a session-best 91 loops of the Bahrain International Circuit.

While his race sim was competitive, it still wasn’t the fastest of the day and also indicated McLaren‘s tyre wear issues from 2023 may still linger. But speaking of 2023, they’re lightyears ahead of where they started 12 months ago and look like they’ll be contenders for the first podium of the season in a week’s time, as will the other four remaining teams on this list.

4. Aston Martin

Arguably the biggest winners of the final day, when Fernando Alonso got his shot after sunset.

His C1 run in the daytime was already impressive, but Alonso followed that up late on with another 13-lap stint on the hardest rubber where he averaged 1:37.2 – comfortably ahead of McLaren notwithstanding the usual testing caveats.

Aston Martin‘s one-lap pace remains somewhat of a mystery, but as the old saying goes: it’s a marathon not a sprint.

3. Mercedes

Also high risers on the final day, George Russell produced back-to-back 12-lap stints on the medium tyres that indicate Mercedes could be a threat to Ferrari on race pace.

The only real asterisk was Russell‘s sustained yet ultimately fruitless assault on Leclerc’s benchmark time. Russell was on harder rubber than the Monegasque but set his fastest time almost exactly two hours after Leclerc and that was the result of four sets of tyres sacrificed to try and give Mercedes top spot.

However, we’ve not seen the best of Lewis Hamilton yet in the W15 either, expect him to hit the ground running on the opening grand prix weekend and close at least a tenth or two to his future employers.

2. Ferrari

Despite Russell‘s late late show, Ferrari still look clearly the second-best team heading into the Bahrain GP weekend. Sainz actually put in the fastest time of the test on the second day, eight-tenths ahead of second-placed Perez, and Leclerc responded in fine fashion on Friday.

His race simulation was blisteringly quick, and Ferrari certainly seem to have solved the tyre wear issue that’s dogged them since 2022, with the mood in the camp similarly buoyant. They won the offseason, can they follow that up on track in 2024?

1. Red Bull

Max Verstappen on track in Bahrain for pre-season testing | Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen on track in Bahrain for pre-season testing | Red Bull Content Pool

Or at least Verstappen. Perez looks less certain to comfortably beat the Ferraris after a stop-start test week, but Verstappen already looks effortless behind the wheel of his Red Bull.

We’ve not seen enough to rank the RB20 next to its predecessor, but it’s clear that Adrian Newey‘s design pivot hasn’t tripped up the reigning quintuple champions and Red Bull remain the team to beat.

Adam Dickinson
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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