F1 – More of the Same in 2024 but All Change for 2025

  • More Red Bull dominance in 2024 but Newey has announced his departure
  • There have been no driver changes in 2024 but big changes expected for 2025
  • New blood is expected to shake up the F1 grid dynamic for next year
Red Bull pit stop
Red Bull is dominating again this year in F1, but 2025 will bring a major grid shakeup. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No end in sight for Red Bull dominance

Only six F1 weekends have been completed in 2024 out of a scheduled 24 but already it has an all-too familiar look. Red Bull continues to dominate, Mercedes continues to disappoint, while the rest squabble like rats in a sack for either second place or to be the grid’s sixth-best constructor.

It used to be a two-tier championship but with Red Bull running out of challengers, it now has three. If confirmation were needed of Red Bull’s dominance, with 18 rounds still to go in 2024, Max Verstappen is -10000 to win the driver’s championship and the team is -5000 to win the constructor’s title (both with Bet365).

The team’s dominance has been ongoing since the start of the 2022 season when a raft of technical changes to the cars came into force. Included in those changes were some relating to the aerodynamics of the cars, known as ground effect.

a brand new set of major technical changes come into force in 2026

Basically, Red Bull – thanks largely to its chief engineer, Adrian Newey – cracked the ground effect code while others failed. Until a brand new set of major technical changes come into force in 2026, no other team looks likely to challenge the F1 team.

There is however a fly in the ointment for the Austrian giants. Newey, who has been pivotal to the team’s rise even before the ground effect changes came into effect, has made clear his wish to leave.

Newey on the move

65-year-old engineer Newey has reportedly been unsettled by Red Bull’s off-track issues, which include allegations made by a former female employee against team boss Christian Horner alongside rumors of an ongoing power struggle at the top of the organization. 

Newey has simply had enough of the off-track dramas

The Horner rumors were denied and, as a result of an internal investigation, deemed to be unsubstantiated. However, talk of behind-the-scenes unrest from pit lane up to board room persisted. It appears that Newey has simply had enough of the off-track dramas.

There will, of course, be no shortage of suitors for the sport’s greatest engineer, and he has spoken in the past of his desire to work with Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton before he retires. Aston Martin is also rumored to have made Newey a lucrative offer, so we can expect to see rumors aplenty in the coming months.

But that’s for next season, when the departure of Newey may trigger the type of engineering merry-go-round normally reserved for the drivers. In the here and now, it’s not just the grid’s pecking order that has remained unchanged in 2024, so too has the driver line-up.

For the first time in the sport’s history, the exact same set of drivers who finished the 2023 season, started the 2024 campaign. Not one change. The only cosmetic changes to the grid was Alpha Romeo rebranding itself Kick Sauber, and Alpha Tauri – Red Bull’s second team – being renamed RB.

Rookie Bearman impresses in Jeddah

To date, the only grid change came in Saudi Arabia on race week three when Carlos Sainz, after feeling unwell during both free practice sessions, was diagnosed with appendicitis. The Spaniard was unable to drive in qualifying or the race itself and was replaced by 18-year-old British driver, Oliver Bearman.   

As it transpired, Bearman did a stellar job in Sainz’s Ferrari – qualifying in seventh and finishing 11th in the race – but it was an intriguing change in grid dynamic, with the rookie Brit racing alongside legends of the sport who were more than 20 years his senior.    

they become a close-knit group even amid the fierce rivalries

Given the huge level of risk involved, trust in the driving ability of their rivals is vital among the sport’s 20 top drivers. There is an almost-unique bond that joins them and, as a result, they become a close-knit group even amid the fierce rivalries.

The arrival of a rookie on the grid changed all of that, and it would have been interesting to see how it had played out if Bearman’s all-action, no-nonsense style had impacted the podium places, or if his stint in the Ferrari had lasted more than one race.

Luckily for Sainz, we didn’t find out. The Spaniard returned to the Ferrari in the next race in Australia and, despite still suffering the after-effects of his op, went on to sensationally win only his second grand prix.   

For Bearman’s next outing in an F1 car, we will have to wait – rumor has it he will be Hulkenberg’s replacement at Haas in 2025 – but in terms of other driver changes, there are potentially many.

Biggest grid shake up in a decade

With seven-time-world-champion Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari already confirmed, and no fewer than 11 drivers reaching the end of their current contracts, the grid will almost certainly see its biggest shake-up in a decade. In fact, the first domino has already  fallen, when it was announced this week that Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Haas at the end of this season to join Sauber in 2025.

Another big name who will be on the move is Sainz – Hamilton is taking his Ferrari seat – but others whose deals expire include Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, and Yuki Tsunoda.

With the short to medium-term future of more than half of the grid up in the air, it’s inconceivable that there won’t be some new faces on the grid in 2025.

talk of Mercedes fast-tracking Kimi Antonelli

The agents of the elite drivers in F2 are, no doubt, already working overtime, and there is even talk of Mercedes fast-tracking Kimi Antonelli – a very highly rated 17-year-old who is on their junior driver program but who is in his rookie season in F2.          

For the record, the current favorite to replace Hamilton at Mercedes is Estaban Ocon, who is +150 with Paddy Power, while Antonelli is currently a longer shot at +700. Others in the frame are Alex Albon at +300, the recently-retired Sebastian Vettel at +400, Mick Schumacher at +450, and, surprisingly, Verstappen at just +250.

One of the early favorites for the Mercedes gig was Fernando Alonso, but that speculation ended when it was announced he had signed a new Aston Martin deal that takes him through to the end of the 2026 season.

Sainz, Hamilton, and Hulkenberg won’t be the only movers and shakers on the grid. Others are expected to be Perez, Ocon, Albon, and, maybe, Tsunoda; all of which looks certain to add excitement and jeopardy to the start of 2025 – two things that have been missing so far this season.

New dynamic for F1 grid

In breaking up the grid’s close-knit status quo, a new dynamic will take shape. New partnerships, friendships, and alliances will form, while the rookies will have to quickly earn the respect and trust of their new peers.  

whether they sink or swim doesn’t rely solely on their ability to drive super-fast

It’s a tricky one, even for those with more than 300 races under their belts, but for those making their way in the sport it’s doubly difficult. Whether they sink or swim doesn’t rely solely on their ability to drive super-fast but also on their ability to cope in the refined air of an F1 grid. It’s not for everyone.

For now though, there are no such problems. Between now and December, the chances are we see the same 20 drivers line up each race, and that Verstappen and Red Bull win most of them. If it’s F1 fireworks you’re looking for, you may have to wait until March 2025.

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