The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

Back in Bahrain

What to know about the 2024 season of Formula One
Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing drives during the Formula One Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome on Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Formula One is back for its 74th championship season, and with the return, different factors could alter how the races play out. These changes include expiring contracts, a new circuit and another team challenging Red Bull Racing.

The season’s calendar is packed with 24 scheduled races, each taking place on a unique track in 21 different countries spread across nine months of the year.

The first race of the season took place on March 2 in Sakhir, Bahrain at the Bahrain International Circuit. This track was the first in the Middle East and was the opening race in 2006, 2010 and was supposed to be in 2011, but the race was canceled. Only in the last few years was the race a consistent starter, stealing the Australian Grand Prix’s spot on the 2021 calendar, according to

A new race has been confirmed, replacing the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain with a track along the streets of Madrid, Spain. While it will not be scheduled on the calendars until 2026, opinions on the new addition vary. Fans think having another street circuit is unnecessary when there are plenty already on the calendar, according to

Silly season has begun
“Silly season” is a term used mainly by fans and the teams themselves to describe the time at which a lot of changes are made to teams, typically during mid-season when drivers’ performances are evaluated.

Starting as early as the end of the previous season, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner left the team, but many speculate he was fired for failing to produce results with the cars. Steiner was replaced by Ayao Komatsu, with 20 years of experience in Formula One and as a chief race engineer, according to

The departure of Steiner kicked off the silly season and left fans with an array of emotions, which only escalated when it was announced on Feb. 1 that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was leaving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2025. It would cut his Mercedes contract short. A driver leaving for another team is not unprecedented, it is very common to see when a driver is not performing in the car they are given, but for Hamilton, it is a big change. He has been with Mercedes for 11 years. His first contract with the team was back in 2013. Since then, he has won six of his seven world championships with them. In the past few years, the performance of the car has been suffering compared to the pace it used to have, according to

It leaves the seat open in Mercedes for 2025, and with Hamilton replacing Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, there is also the question of where Sainz will end up. The grid will be fighting for their seats to stay or to move to a better team, especially with the amount of expiring contracts, according to

Expiring contracts
Contracts for 14 of 20 drivers are expiring this season, meaning they have to resign from their seat for a certain amount of years or be offered a different seat in a new team. It is a big deal because with that many drivers’ contracts ending, they will want to get the best results out of their cars to keep their seats, or to be able to get signed to a better team, according to

Notable changes include Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc re-signing his contract with Ferrari until 2026, securing his seat before Hamilton was confirmed for 2025. McLaren driver Lando Norris extended his contract with the team until 2027, as well as Williams driver Alex Albon for another year, according to

The drivers who still need to extend their pcontracts are Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez, Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, Alpine drivers Estebon Ocon and Pierre Gasly, Williams driver Logan Sargeant, Stake drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, Haas drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, and Racing Bulls drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda, according to

Like some of the other drivers, they might decide to renew it before the season and are waiting for the right time, or they could be hoping for another team to give them a better offer.

Potential for a new World Champion
During the 2023 season, there was not anybody challenging the Red Bull drivers at the beginning of the season, meaning that they were so far ahead, none of the other drivers could keep up during the races. For the most part, they remained untouched, according to

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen had a decently stress-free season. However when it was time for the British Grand Prix, a new challenge appeared for the reigning world champion.

Starting second to Verstappen on the grid, Norris managed to overtake and lead the race by the first corner of the track where he continued to do so for a couple more laps. Despite being overtaken by Verstappen, he finished second for a podium at his home race, according to

A lot of fans have faith in the driver because despite not having his first win, Norris showed through the rest of the season with back-to-back podiums that he could potentially win a race, and with the right car, he has the potential to win a world championship. Many predict him to be a fighting force against Red Bull, according to

In the races after summer break, Norris had accumulated 136 points, with more podiums and sprint race placings versus Verstappen’s 261 points since summer break. While the numbers are still far apart, they show improvement from the first part of the season to the second half, as Norris only scored 69 points before mid-season, according to

Not only do fans recognize the talent Norris has, but so do other team principals, as many of them have commented on his performance and how they would want him on their teams.

“Lando’s a great driver, he’s a big talent, big personality, and of course he’s one of those drivers that you keep an eye on,” Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said, according to