New F1 season arrives: Here’s everything you need to know – Metro US

New F1 season arrives: Here’s everything you need to know

The crew for Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, pushes the car down pit lane before the first practice session for the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix auto race, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

After a long winter filled with rumors, shocking headlines, and endless speculation, the new Formula 1 season is finally upon us. The grid heads to Shakir, Bahrain, for the opening race of the season to kick off what promises to be another exhillerating year of action.

An offseason of chaos

The offseason used to be a grueling wait until preseason testing begun, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth this time around. The theatrics started when Formula One decided to decline Andretti Team’s bid to join the grid by 2026. The door is reportedly still open for them to take ownership of a current team, or to work something out for 2028 and beyond, but the iconic name will not be taking to the grid as a team anytime soon.

FILE – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, right, celebrate after Hamilton won the race and his seventh world championship at the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit racetrack in Istanbul, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari shocked the Formula One world with even Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff calling it a “surprise.” Wolff said he had heard rumors that Hamilton might leave but didn’t know for sure until the F1 great confirmed it over breakfast on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Wolff’s home in Oxford, England. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali, Pool, File)

After what felt like just heartbeats later, it was revealed that Lewis Hamilton would be jumping ship to Ferrari for 2025, making this season his last with Mercedes, whom he has now spent over a decade with. The seven-time World Champion will join the biggest name in Motorsport alongside Charles LeClerc, but that in itself caused shockwaves.

For one, where will Carlos Sainz go, and how will it impact the team’s morale in 2024? Ferrari looked poised to be the one team who can hang with Red Bull, and if Sainz gets off to a flyer, do the Scuderia instead focus their efforts on the development and success of the driver they’ve hung their hat on?

But these are all things that will spark debates after this coming season. We have a 24-race schedule to get through first and that will inevitably bring with it plenty of twists and turns.

What about 2024?

Red Bull storm into this season as the clear favorites to retain the Constructors Championship for a third-consecutive season, but a dark cloud looms over the Milton Keynes-based team.

Team Principal, Christian Horner is under investigation following complaints about inappropriate behavior from a female employee. Horner has since denied the allegations but the investigation is still ongoing, although he remains on the team with the F1 season set to kick off in a matter of days. Will this have any impact on morale and performance at Red Bull?

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, right, chats with Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico at the pits during Formula One pre season test at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

We won’t have long to find out. The teams are already in Bahrain following a gauntlet of preseason testing that has raised more questions than it has answers. While Red Bull and Ferrari are juking it out at the top of the timesheets, Alpine, Aston Martin, and Haas have all looked to really struggle at times.

Mercedes look much closer to the lead pack this year which is refreshing. The past few seasons have seen them consistently fighting from behind the 8-ball just to even get close to chasing podiums and wins. That gap seems to have decreased which should open up some more frantic racing up front in 2024.

It will be interesting to see how the grid shapes up on Saturday’s qualifying session, and of course how the opening race ends. But with so many storylines to follow both on and off the track, this season promises to be one to remember.

AP Photo/Darron Cummings