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3hrs 24min - MotoGP Qualifying
Feb 9, 2024
GridRival Crew

Visa Cash App Rb Will Beat Alpine In The Constructor’s Championship

Vcarb, apart from having the worst name in F1 history, has a real chance of toppling Alpine, one of only four manufacturer teams in F1.

Despite Alpine finishing two places higher and 95 points clear in 2023, there’s a real chance that this could happen, and not because they are going to run an RB19 clone, as some have speculated.

True, Red Bull are now insisting that the sister team use as many Red Bull parts as the rules allow, however, the aero surfaces must be the team’s own work, and despite the suggestions of some team principles, there is nothing to suggest Vcarb and Red Bull are playing outside of the rules.

Two factors make this situation possible. Firstly, Visa Cash App RB’s upgraded car for the last six races of 2023 shows that the team really started to understand this ground effect-driven rule set. Their average pace deficit to the front of the grid was reduced by approximately 0.5% across those last six races compared to their pace across the season as a whole. This allowed them to jump from last in the constructors championship to 8th across the latter half of the season.

Secondly, there’s no evidence to suggest Alpine’s owners are finally ready to allow the team to move forward. One of the main reasons for firing team boss, Otmar Szanauer, and their long time sporting director, Alan Permane, mid-season seems to have been disagreements on how long it will realistically take for Alpine to be fighting at the front of the grid. This is furthered by a statement from Alpine’s Chief technical officer, Pat Fry, from November of 2023, where he said, “I didn't feel there was the enthusiasm or the drive to move forward beyond fourth”, which makes me wonder if Alpine is going to be able to right the ship in the 2024 season.

-Matthew Harper

Mercedes Will Slip To 4th In The Constructors Championship

Mercedes are going into 2024 confident that they are finally on the right track after two years of chasing aerodynamic dead ends. Historically, however, falls from grace in F1 take longer to recover from, and Mercedes's current arc seems to run parallel with McLaren’s from almost 30 years ago. 

In 1988 McLaren famously won 15 out of 16 races and left everyone else for dust, going on to win the constructors championship from 1989 - 1991. 

In 1992, however, Williams produced another one of the most dominant F1 cars of all time, the FW14b, which won 10 out of 16 races, beating McLaren to the constructors crown by 65 points.

In 1993, Williams won again, this time beating McLaren by 84 points, who, in turn, narrowly beat Benetton by a mere 12 points. By 1994, McLaren had sunk to 4th in the constructors championship, where it remained for 1995, 96 and 97. Its renaissance in 1998 came about largely by hiring current Red Bull design genius Adrian Newey. 

30 years later, Mercedes' run of dominance saw them win the 2021 constructors championship.

In 2022, however, they were no match for Red Bull, as Mercedes only won a single race. 

2023 gave Mercedes their first winless season since 2011. Whilst they could certainly start to turn things around in 2024, there is also the chance that Ferrari and Mclaren could move ahead, and Mercedes will mirror McLaren’s slump to 4th. And with Hamilton’s recent announcement to move to Ferrari in 2025, it’s hard not to think that Mercedes won’t continue to lag behind.

-Matthew Harper      

Stake F1 Team Will Have A Brand New Lineup In 2025

For some, this might not be that bold of a take; for others, it might be quite spicy. It all depends on your view of the upcoming 2026 regulation changes and the Alfa Romeo/Stake buy-out situation with Audi. There is a world where both drivers are maintained through 2025, and Audi comes in and cleans house when taking over the team. Or retain both Zhou and Bottas for stability. But what if they don’t?

My take on this is if both drivers disappoint or remain status quo in 2024, why not try a new driver lineup to see if you can find something better for 2026? Both Zhou and Bottas have been hampered by an awful car in 2023, but so were other teams, and some drivers showed promise regardless (Lawson, Tsunoda, Hulkenburg, for example). Bottas starts off hot and then fades away quickly. Zhou is inconsistent or consistently in the back. Give two young drivers a chance to shoot their shot and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is you do it again when the regulations change. But maybe you find a driver you can build around. I don’t think that Stake has that right now, and it would be crazy of them not to try and search for one after season’s end.

-Garrett Ball

Mclaren Is Going To Be A Top 3 Team In The Constructors Championship

After McLaren’s rocky start to the 2023 season, their subsequent comeback rocketing them all the way to finishing 4th in the constructors championship was one of the season's most covered stories. Heading into the 2024 pre-season, McLaren promises big changes and drastic improvement on the previous MCL60. While we aren’t going to see the ‘24 car until pre-season testing is over, we do know that McLaren has made several upgrades to their factory and machining capabilities over the past year, which should only improve their ability to design, create, and test new parts. Some analysts are skeptical of the immediate impact of these upgrades, which is a valid criticism. However, I think that even half of these machining improvements combined with the performance of the late-season MCL60 is a potent combination. Many of the parts that were outsourced in previous seasons have been brought back to be manufactured in-house, making their preseason testing all the more impactful, as they now have the ability to implement changes to their ‘24 design more quickly and effectively than ever. 

So these developmental improvements, under the seasoned guidance of Principal Andrea Stella, driven by Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, who recently extended his contract at McLaren until 2026, and Hamilton’s recent commitment to Ferrari in 2025, all work together to create what I believe to be a perfect storm for McLaren to have a great 2024 season, as I don’t think that Mercedes is going to be as competitive as we’ve seen in prior seasons and Ferrari has been relatively quiet during this off-season. 

- Brendan Burns

Haas F1's Future Hangs in the Balance Amidst Leadership Shuffle and Ownership Speculations

In the wake of Gunther Steiner's departure from the Haas Formula 1 Team, the motorsport community is abuzz with questions surrounding the team's current organizational culture. The spotlight is now on Ayao Komatsu, the incoming team principal, whose extensive experience in the sport dates back to his tenure with British American Racing in 2003. Having played key roles at Renault and Lotus, where he rose to the position of chief race engineer, Komatsu joined Haas at its inception, showcasing a deep understanding of the team's inner workings. However, with comments from team owner Gene Haas suggesting that Komatsu's familiarity with the team is a key factor in his promotion, concerns arise about potential internal biases being left unaddressed, potentially highlighting a last-ditch effort to salvage the team's fortunes.

The rift between the outgoing Steiner, a proponent of increased investment, and Gene Haas, who emphasizes resource efficiency, sets the stage for a pivotal season for Haas. If Komatsu fails to bring about the desired changes, there's speculation that mounting frustrations could lead Gene Haas to cut his losses and consider selling the Formula 1 Team entry to none other than Michael Andretti and Andretti Global. This scenario gains weight given Andretti's past attempts to enter the Formula 1 scene, having previously negotiated with Sauber. In a revealing statement given to Autosport, Andretti disclosed, "Gene Haas wouldn't sell… I've asked five or six times," hinting at persistent interest and the potential for a transformative shift in ownership dynamics.

Time will tell how Komatsu’s heightened involvement will unfold.

- Alex Somerville

Formula 1’s Decision to Exclude Andretti Autosport will Backfire

Since I became an F1 fanboy in my late teens, now over 20 years ago, Formula 1 has been trying to crack the US market. It’s not a surprise to us US fans that the tipping point they’d been waiting on for decades would come in the form of reality TV. We all know the impact that Drive to Survive has had on the sport, so I won’t waste time on the matter. It’s worth noting, however, that its impact on the US fanbase has been outsized relative to its impact on the rest of the world. But given the attention span and loyalty of the average consumer these days, a fan made is no guarantee of a fan kept. Given how many fans got hooked on the sport in 2022, an incredible year of competition, many casual fans left 2023 underwhelmed by the predictable outcomes of nearly every race. F1 will need to do more than add events to the US calendar to keep this audience excited. 

I have been continually surprised, then, by the things I haven’t seen F1 push for in an effort to stoke the flame of US Formula 1 passion. I would have expected that it would be F1 that was begging a team like Andretti to partner with a US manufacturer like GM to give American fans a hometown team and manufacturer to cheer for. Much of the die-hard Indycar and NASCAR fanbase has not yet crossed over, and the Andretti/GM team would undoubtedly be a catalyst for further audience development. To add insult to injury, the way in which F1 declined Andretti’s application did not help their perception, as a significant percentage of F1 fans perceived it as pompous and arrogant. 

My hope is grounded in the outlash that ensued by fans on social media. I can’t seem to find many who are in support of the decision. My fingers are crossed that  F1 finds a way to make it work, but if they don’t, my bold prediction is that we’ve already seen the peak of Formula 1 interest in America, and although I think it’s here to stay, there will be an opportunity cost to F1 stakeholders and fans for not figuring this out. 

- Ross Fruin

Aston Martin Regresses Hard, Resulting In 2025 Shakeup

Aston Martin’s strong start to 2023 had them 3rd in the constructor’s championship standings, only to see them slip to 5th by the end of the season, having been surpassed by Ferrari and McLaren. My prediction is that they’re no higher than 6th in 2024, with a pace closer to the likes of Alpine and an improved VCARB/Racing Bulls team. The cracks started showing when they struggled to improve the car as 2023 went on, and I’m not sure they can catch up. Additionally, lead driver Fernando Alonso isn’t getting any younger, and Lance Stroll was well off his pace, failing to podium where his teammate did so 8 times.

Alonso becomes frustrated, ultimately choosing to leave after the season, either retiring or filling Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes until Kimi Antonelli is ready for it. Lance Stroll decides to pursue other interests, and Lawrence Stroll starts looking for a buyer for the team.

- William Lahti

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