Things Are Looking Bad For F1 Drivers Not Named Max Verstappen

formula 1 testing in bahrain day 1
Max Verstappen Leads F1 Testing by Over a SecondPeter Fox - Formula 1 - Getty Images

In 2025, Formula 1 will be shaken up by major driver changes that are already underway after Lewis Hamilton's shock move to Ferrari. F1 fans will not be so lucky in 2024, with every single team on the grid carrying over both of their drivers from a 2023 season where one team won all but one race. Any hope of that pattern changing in 2024 will require another team to break Max Verstappen and Red Bull's stranglehold on the series. After one day of testing, things are not looking up.

Verstappen led combined times from Wednesday's two testing sessions by 1.1 seconds, a larger margin than the gap from second to eighth. It is an impressive debut for a radical new Red Bull design, one very different in appearance from the simple but dominant design the team used in 2022 and 2023.

Of course, testing times are not a great metric to indicate future success. In testing, different teams are looking for different data points over the course of their running and not all will put in a full-push lap to get a sense of their ultimate pace. That means this is nothing like winning a qualifying session by a second, but it is still an alarming result for teams who may have hoped that Red Bull's radical new design could have taken away some of the edge they enjoyed last season.

If Red Bull has actually found more pace than every other team on the grid this offseason, 2024 is likely to go the way 2023 did. Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds is betting on that exact outcome, promising $250,000 to charity if anyone but Verstappen wins the title this year. After these first sessions, that looks like a fairly safe bet.

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