Join Olivia Teeter as she breaks down the fast-paced world of Formula One. This episode will focus on the big headlines that will dominate the 2024 Formula One season, like driver changes and who the winners (or losers) may be in 2024. Strap in for the ride and get ready to get back on track.

Olivia: Hey everyone. Welcome to the newly reinstated “I don’t Get F1” podcast, now operating under the name “Back on Track.” My name is Olivia Teeter and I am a freshman here at Northwestern. This is a podcast all about the wonderful world of Formula 1. Every episode I will recap the recent races, of course including any driver drama that may have happened or any technical mishaps that might have occurred. If you’re looking to get into F1 or are just here for fun, I will be your guide. So, let’s get back on track.

First, a little bit about me. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Formula 1 fan. Like many people, I discovered the sport through watching the hit Netflix series Drive to Survive. And I became obsessed with the drama, the intrigue and the driver personalities that the show focused on. Except, aside from the basic rules that Drive to Survive taught me, I had no idea how F1 worked. Luckily, through following the races in real time and a lot of F1-related Google searches, I got the hang of it eventually. And now I’m here to help you. Just in time for the new F1 season to start on February 29, and preseason testing going on now, it is a great time to get into Formula 1.

So, before we begin, here’s some rapid fire facts that are relevant to what we’re going to be talking about today:

There are 10 teams, 20 drivers, two drivers to a team. Teams also consist of a team principal, the car engineers that build the car itself, the pit stop crew, the race engineers that develop strategy for the team.

There are also two types of championships that you can win in Formula 1. There is the World Driver’s Championship, which goes to the individual driver that has scored the most points in the season. And then there is the Constructors’ Championship, which goes to the team that has scored the most points throughout the season.

We’ll get more into the drivers, teams and history of F1 as we go along, so don’t worry if this was too fast and don’t worry if this was too short.

So, today let’s talk about the big headlines that are sure to dominate the 2024 season. The first one you may have seen on the internet but had no idea why it was a big deal or had no idea even what was going on, so let’s talk about it now.

Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari. So for context, Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time World Driver’s Championship winner, and he is regarded by many to be one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. He had most of his success with his current team Mercedes, where he drove for 12 years. And Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes was set to expire in 2024, meaning he would race with them through the 2024 season, but it would be up at the end of this season. However, he signed a contract extension with the team late last year.

On the other hand, Ferrari’s drivers are Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who both had contracts set to expire at the end of 2024 just like Lewis Hamilton. Except, Charles Leclerc just signed a contract extension back in January. Carlos had not, but it was looking extremely likely that Ferrari and him were going to reach an agreement to extend it.

This seems like everyone should be locked in for a while, right? Well, it wouldn’t be Formula 1 without a little drama. Turns out there was a release clause in Lewis’s contract that enabled him to leave it early, and many people, including many people in Mercedes thought he would have used this to retire. Hamilton instead decided to move to Ferrari starting in 2025, stopping any sort of talks that Carlos might have had with the team and ousting him from his seat for 2025.

The big question now, after this driver shake-up, is how are Ferrari and Mercedes going to manage their drivers now that they know they only have one year left with their current lineup? This also opens up a question about F1 strategy. So let’s get into that.

In F1, strategy is just as important as the cars and drivers themselves. Many teams implement a two driver strategy, meaning that they prioritize one driver over another in order to ensure that the first driver, the one they prioritize, can secure the most points for the team as possible. So, the second driver acts as more of a defense for the first driver.

Frederic Vasseur, team principal for Ferrari, has stated in the past that they do not have a number one driver or number two driver when it comes to Charles and Carlos, but with Carlos having one foot out the door, will we see Ferrari start to prioritize Charles more?

Toto Wolff, the team principal for Mercedes, has almost perfected this two driver strategy in the past. He has always prioritized Lewis Hamilton for a number of years. However, George Russel, the other Mercedes driver, who is the second driver for Mercedes, has been wanting to shake up this strategy. He is hungry to prove himself. So, just like Ferrari, will we see a shift in who Mercedes is going to prioritize this season with Lewis having left in the way that he did?

This also opens up questions about what could this mean for other driver’s contracts?

There are only 20 Formula 1 seats in the entire world, and moves like these shake up driver lineups for multiple teams. So who might be next?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, and I don’t know if many F1 journalists or experts could even answer them themselves.

What we do know, looking at preseason times and preseason stats, is that Red Bull looks like they are going to be the team to beat yet again. Red Bull last year won the Driver’s Constructors’ Championship, and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is looking to win his fourth straight World Driver’s Championship. And it doesn’t look like they’re going to slow down any time soon.

The teams of course looking to challenge Red Bull for the title are, of course, Mercedes and Ferrari who finished second and third, respectively, last year. Both teams believe they can close this gap to Red Bull, but will the drama with Lewis Hamilton get in the way?

McLaren is also looking to extend their development and their improvement after starting out a little bit shaky last year. But, they have the youngest driver lineup on the grid with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, so it’ll be interesting to see how they compare to the other big powerhouses in Formula 1. Their times look pretty good in preseason testing.

Also, many other driver contracts are set to expire at the end of 2024, so this means we will see a lot of people move to different teams or sign new contract extensions. So, get ready for that, that usually comes around the summertime.

With preseason testing right around the corner and the first race in about a week, we won’t really get a sense of how fast or competitive every team is until then. All we can do right now is pay attention to the times and the stats that preseason testing is producing.

And of course, this recap definitely didn’t include everything but it covered the big headlines that are sure to be talked about throughout the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Thanks for joining me on “Back on Track.” I’m your host, Olivia Teeter, and I’ll see you for the first race in Bahrain.

Thumbnail graphic by Rachel Yoon / North by Northwestern