Everything to Know About F1 for the 2024 Season – CNET

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The cars flash by at 220 mph. GOAT of the sport Lewis Hamilton will reportedly make an eye-watering $100 million in 2025. Celebrities jet around the world to watch. And if you’re in the US, races seem to intersect perfectly with Sunday brunch.

Formula 1 racing has been gaining a foothold in American sports media over the last few years, and interest is only getting bigger: ESPN reported that eight out of 23 races it broadcast in 2023 set US television F1 viewership records, and viewership has doubled since the 2018 season. 

Even if you don’t watch the races, news about F1 teams and drivers is likely making its way into social media feeds and onto your TV screens. If you’re familiar with NASCAR or IndyCar racing, F1 racing will be recognizable, but once you dig into the international motorsport series and you’ll find its actually quite different from both of those series too. 

If you’ve encountered F1 in the wild — maybe Drive to Survive popped up in your Netflix recommendations — and you’re looking to understand what’s up with the race-weekend craze, I’ve got you covered. I’ve been a fan for years and obsessively follow the sport. To help get you started before the season kicks off, I’ve rounded up everything you need to know about F1 so you’ll be ready for the first race of the season on March 2. 

For more, here’s how to watch F1 and the best sports streaming service

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll crashes during the qualifying session of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore

F1 cars weigh less than 1,800 pounds and go over 200 mph. Yes, there are crashes. (Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll walked away from this one.)

Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

What is F1? 

Whether you know it as “Formula One,” “Formula 1,” or just “F1,” the sport, according to F1’s website, is “the highest class of international racing for single-seater formula racing cars.” That definition works, I guess, but for me, it’s an event where winged projectiles steered by drivers, aptly nicknamed “pilots,” race at dizzying speeds on the roads and tracks of Bahrain, Italy, Monaco and the US for two or so hours each week, using a combination of brilliant engineering and high-stakes strategy to determine who wins and loses.

With 10 F1 teams this season, and two drivers racing for each team, there’s a lot of competition. (Formula racing also has the second tier F2, with 11 teams and 22 drivers, and the third tier F3, with 10 teams and 30 drivers.)

If you’ve only ever seen NASCAR, the difference between formula racing cars and stock cars are quite different. Most noticeably, stock cars look similar to a car you would see on the road, while formula cars are open-wheeled, and operate a bit more like a long and speedy go-kart. 

A formula racing car at a glance looks more like an IndyCar, but there are differences: Formula cars, for example, are designed for different race conditions and are better at gaining speed in corners and turns. IndyCar cars, on the other hand, can achieve higher straight-line speed. 

The biggest difference between F1 and both NASCAR and IndyCar is the formula, or set of rules, F1 car designers follow for car weight, mirror size, tire composition and more. Working with those guidelines — which in 2023 ran on for 177 pages (PDF) — car engineers and designers look for ways to maximize performance to give their cars an edge over competitors.

NASCAR and IndyCar, on the other hand, are specification-based series and all of the cars are essentially the same. 

Any given season will have 19 to 25 races, and a races is usually referred to as a “Grand Prix.” Races take place all around the world, with the calendar spanning anywhere from late February to early December, making the season a nearly year-long affair. 

The 2024 F1 season will include 24 Grands Prix and will kick off with preseason testing from Feb. 21 to 23. The first race weekend, the Bahrain Grand Prix, will run from Feb. 29 through March 2. The Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the official season, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will close out the season in December.

Max Verstappen sprays champagne

Max Verstappen won 19 Grands Prix in 2023, setting a new record.

Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Getty Images

Which teams will participate in F1 in the 2024? 

Here are the 10 teams and their drivers competing in the 2024 season (listed in 2023’s championship order): 

  1. Red Bull Racing, with competing drivers Max Verstappen (three-time world champion and current title-holder) and Sergio Perez.

  2. Mercedes, with competing drivers Lewis Hamilton (seven-time world champion) and George Russell.

  3. Ferrari, with competing drivers Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz.

  4. McLaren, with competing drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

  5. Aston Martin, with competing drivers Fernando Alonso (two-time world champion) and Lance Stroll.

  6. Alpine, with competing drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

  7. Williams, with competing drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargent.

  8. Visa Cash App Racing Bulls, or RB (formerly AlphaTauri), with competing drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda.

  9. Kick Sauber (formerly Alfa Romeo), with competing drivers Valterri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

  10. Haas, with competing drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. 

Wondering which teams to keep an eye on?

F1 fans and creators of the Two Girls 1 Formula podcast Kate Byrne and Nicole Sievers have advice for new fans. Byrne offered up Ferrari as her team to watch this season, because of a run of good hires. Sievers selected McLaren as her pick, calling them “sneaky fast” and noting they finished strongly last year. Sievers also likes Williams, one of F1’s most storied teams, as an underdog pick for the season. 

What is an F1 race weekend like?

A Grand Prix race typically stretches over three or four days, usually beginning on a Thursday but sometimes on a Friday with media day, where drivers give interviews and arrive at the track, and ending on a Sunday — and a few times on a Saturday — with the race. 

In between are practice sessions and a qualifying session where drivers compete for their grid placements for weekend race. 

The race, or Grand Prix, is from 40 to 80 laps long and can last up to two hours. Most Grands Prix are on purpose-built race tracks, but some, like Monaco and Las Vegas, take place on city streets.

This format shifts a bit during a sprint race weekend. A sprint race is a shorter version of a Grand Prix, lasting anywhere from 15 to 35 laps. A sprint race weekend will have one practice session, a special qualifying session called a Sprint Shootout on Friday, the sprint race itself and the Grand Prix qualifying session on Saturday, and the Grand Prix on Sunday. 

A couple of changes and additions to the schedule this year are worth noting. The first two races of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on Saturday, out of respect for Ramadan. And the Chinese Grand Prix is back on the calendar, for the first time since 2019. 

When are this year’s Grands Prix to watch? 

This season has 24 Grands Prix over 10 months.

F1 2024 schedule

Date Race Time
March 2 Bahrain GP 10 a.m. ET
March 9 Saudi Arabian GP 12 p.m. ET
March 24 Australian GP 12 a.m. ET
April 7 Japanese GP 1 a.m. ET
April 21 Chinese GP 3 a.m. ET
May 5 Miami GP 4 p.m. ET
May 19 Romagna GP 9 a.m. ET
May 26 Monaco GP 9 a.m. ET
June 9 Canadian GP 2 p.m. ET
June 23 Spanish GP 9 a.m. ET
June 30 Austrian GP 9 a.m. ET
July 7 British GP 10 a.m. ET
July 21 Hungarian GP 9 a.m. ET
July 28 Belgian GP 9 a.m. ET
Aug. 25 Dutch GP 9 a.m. ET
Sept. 1 Italian GP 9 a.m. ET
Sept. 15 Azerbaijan GP 7 a.m. ET
Sept. 22 Singapore GP 8 a.m. ET
Oct. 20 United States GP 3 p.m. ET
Oct. 27 Mexican GP 4 p.m. ET
Nov. 3 Brazilian GP 12 p.m. ET
Nov. 24 Las Vegas GP 1 a.m. ET
Dec. 1 Qatar GP 12 p.m. ET
Dec. 8 Abu Dhabi GP 8 a.m. ET

Lily Herman, author of the Engine Failure newsletter and co-host of the Choosing Sides podcast, cites the Japanese Grand Prix, which has moved up significantly in the calendar, as a race to watch this year. Herman also thinks the Vegas Grand Prix will be one to keep an eye on, given that its inaugural race weekend in 2023 “was a mixed bag” and described as a “headache” by locals.

What else to know about F1?

If you want to get a running start on the F1 season before the racing kicks off, Sievers, Byrne and Herman all recommend checking out Drive to Survive, Netflix’s F1 docu-series that gives fans an inside look at each season of F1. A new season will be dropping on Feb. 23. 

I agree: When I was a new fan, Drive to Survive gave me a jumpstart on the faces, names and themes in the sport. It also provided some crucial context over the past few years of the sport, which was also helpful when I started watching races. 

One thing I noticed when I started watching F1 was that commentators would throw out all sorts of terms that I was unfamiliar with. It can be super overwhelming, so to help build up your F1 vocabulary, I’ve rounded up some of the most common terms you’ll hear during a race weekend and defined them: 

  • DRS: The drag reduction system is a mechanism on Formula 1 cars that reduces drag by opening a flap on the back wing of the car. DRS can only be applied at certain points of the race, called DRS zones, and when two cars are within a certain time distance (1 second). 
  • Understeer: This happens when the front of the car is harder to turn than expected, so the car will not turn into a corner as sharply as the driver intends to turn, for example. 
  • Oversteer: This happens when the back of the car turns too much and slips a bit when a car is turning. This means that the front of the car will turn too sharply into a corner. 
  • Undercut: An undercut occurs when a driver makes a pit stop — or “pits” — to put on brand new tires before an opponent does. If done correctly, these fresher tires will allow the driver who pitted to gain a little bit of time over a driver who did not pit and is running on older tires. 
  • Overcut: An overcut is the direct opposite of an undercut. A driver chooses to remain on the track on older tires while other drivers pit. If executed properly, a driver can get a few more laps out of their tires and pick up a few seconds on opponents on a less congested track.
  • Degradation: Formula 1 tires are usually smooth (the ones used in wet conditions have a bit of tread for improved grip), and are under a great deal of strain during races. As a result of temperature and wear, the tires can degrade, and after a certain point actually make the cars slower and harder to control. Many drivers will complain about this (perhaps a bit unnecessarily). F1 tires are designed to wear and degrade, making tire management a critical piece of race strategy. Tire-makers are constantly evaluating and tweaking tire structures and compounds for optimal racing under different conditions.

Correction, Feb. 22: A previous version of this story used Kate Byrne’s maiden name and incorrectly spelled Nicole Sievers’ last name.

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