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Drive to survive 

The new formula 1 season gets under way this month and the big question remains: who can stop Mad Max?  

Max Verstappen will look to build on his dominant, record-breaking 2023 season when the new Formula 1 campaign gets under way at the Bahrain Grand Prix on 2 March.  

It will be the first of an expanded schedule of 24 races in the season, though, sadly, South Africa has still not managed to gain a place on the calendar and Africa as a continent remains excluded. 

Red Bull driver Verstappen was so dominant last year that he either broke or equalled 18 records in the campaign, including for the most wins (19 out of 22 races), most consecutive wins (10), most podiums (21) and most points in a season (575) out of many others.  

It is difficult to see anyone emerging from the chasing pack to challenge him, especially as the driver line-up remains identical in 2024, though many contracts expire at the end of this campaign. What this feat requires, therefore, is a quantum leap forward in vehicle competitiveness from the other teams, and that is the area where it seems most unlikely. 

One name that has been bandied about is that of George Russell, the Mercedes driver who impressed in 2022 before a more challenging second year. But he has talent and if Mercedes can get a competitive car on the track, he could be one to watch, especially as the form of teammate Lewis Hamilton has dropped off – the Briton has gone without a win since the penultimate race of the 2021 season.  

“The unexpected outsider for the World Championship could be George Russell, if Mercedes become competitive again and can challenge Red Bull,” former Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli told La Gazzetta dello Sport, with Russell himself confident he can make an impact.   

“I have been on Lewis’s level, on average, throughout this year,” Russell told the Telegraph. “And I’m not satisfied with just being on his level. I want to be ahead of him. But I’ve also got to be realistic.  

“I’m going up against the greatest driver of all time. He’s definitely not a bad benchmark. And I think [in the] qualifying statistics, if you include sprint races, we’re exactly the same. And pace-wise, we’re generally the same as well. So there are positives. And to be honest I’d prefer to be sat here without the results, but with the pace.”  Trulli also picked McLaren’s young Australian driver Oscar Piastri as one to watch in 2024. “As a surprise [for 2024], I would say Oscar Piastri, because he is at the wheel of a potentially competitive McLaren and could confirm his talent following a more than positive debut season,” Trulli said. 

Race Calendar 

Race  Grand Prix  Date 
1  Bahrain  2 March 
2  Saudi Arabian  9 March 
3  Australian  24 March 
4  Japanese  7 April 
5  Chinese  21 April 
6  Miami  5 May 
7. Emilia Romagna  19 May 
8. Monaco  26 May 
9. Canadian  9 June 
10. Spanish  23 June 
11. Austrian  30 June 
12. British  7 July 
13. Hungarian  21 July 
14. Belgian  28 July 
15. Dutch  25 Aug 
16. Italian  1 Sep 
17. Azerbaijan  15 Sep 
18. Singapore  22 Sep 
19.  United States  20 Oct 
20.  Mexico City  27 Oct 
21.  Sāo Paulo  3 Nov 
22.  Las Vegas  23 Nov 
23.  Qatar  1 Dec 
24. Abu Dhabi  8 Dec 


Words By: Nick Said
Photography: Tom White/Shawn Thew/Backpagepix/Redbullcontentpool