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Formula 1

One question every F1 team must answer in 2024

RacingNews365 takes a look at each Formula 1 team and poses one question each must answer in the coming season.

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It's about that time of the year when Formula 1 teams are harbouring high hopes for the season ahead.

Will their new car carry on from a strong season just gone or will it allow the team to move on from a disastrous campaign and start anew.

Launch season is just a matter of weeks away, with pre-season testing getting under in under one month's time on February 21st in Bahrain - with the opening race coming the weekend after.

RacingNews365 has taken a look at all 10 teams and posed one question each must face up to across the record-breaking 24 race season to come.

Red Bull - Will the real Sergio Perez stand up?

On one side of the garage, there is Max Verstappen, and given what he achieved in 2023, there are no concerns there or points to be dwelled upon.

The big question is can the team unlock more of Sergio Perez's ability, more consistently.

Perez crumbled after being defeated in Miami after starting on pole with Verstappen ninth, and his trudge around the start of the European season in particular was hard to watch at times, as was his complete loss to explain the Japanese and Qatar weekends.

If he wants to extend his stay at Milton Keynes and stave off Daniel Ricciardo's declared desire to recapture the seat he left in 2018, then he must up his game.

Nobody is expecting Perez to rattle off a title-winning campaign, but two wins and 285 points in the standings when your team-mate gets 19 and 575 is just not good enough.

Mercedes - Do you really know what you're doing?

To fail in one season because of a flawed car concept may be regarded as a misfortune, Mr Wolff, to fail in two, looks like carelessness.

Now, that might not be quite what Oscar Wilde wrote in The Importance of Being Earnest, but sort of sums up Mercedes doubling down on the zero sidepod concept for 2023.

Technical Director James Allison insists that the sidepods (or lack thereof) became an easy stick to beat the team with as other hidden deficiencies at Brackley had more of an impact on the drop in performance.

Take that at face value, but after the promise of its upgrade in the United States last season wore off, Mercedes slumped alarmingly towards the finish line - especially in Brazil when the W14 just had no pace.

For a team with ambitions of catching Red Bull, still having fundamental questions about the car late in the second season of the rules cycle is a concern.

Lewis Hamilton says he knew the W14 was doomed as soon as he drove it in the Silverstone shakedown last February - and he will receive the gut feeling for 2024's W15 when he straps into it next month.

Ferrari - Can the next step of the Vasseur rebuild take place?

Frederic Vasseur is a shrewd, canny operator who runs a well-oiled race team - which is exactly what Ferrari needed after its 2022 season fizzled out.

The team kept making the same basic mistakes, whether it be on strategic, reliability, or operational matters, and which ultimately cost Mattia Binotto his job.

Vasseur gradually ironed out some of those mistakes as the car also drastically improved across the season from fifth fastest to a charging finish in which the Scuderia finished just three points behind a floundering Mercedes.

A minor floor upgrade in Japan also unlocked the car for Charles Leclerc, and with the ducks all seemingly in a Maranello row, there can be no more excuses as the long title wait drags on.

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	© XPBimages

McLaren - Can the final step be made?

Zak Brown has spoken of the ongoing rebuild at McLaren that he has overseen, and declared last winter that he felt once the new wind-tunnel and driver simulator were up and running McLaren would be in a position to fight.

So far, he's being proved right as the team was Red Bull's closest challenger for large parts of the season after a slow start to the campaign with the MCL60.

McLaren still has weaknesses in the fundamental DNA of the car that has lasted for multiple seasons and these must be eradicated if it wants to fight Red Bull.

It certainly has the driver line-up to do so in Lando Norris and sophomore Oscar Piastri.

Aston Martin - Can you prove 2023 was not a fluke?

It's all good and well making such a leap as Aston Martin did from 2022 to 2023, but the real hallmark of an upwardly mobile team is the ability to maintain progress year-on-year.

While the technical team takes care of that, another concern must be getting Lance Stroll to somewhere near Fernando Alonso's level.

Alonso's claim last winter that Stroll was World Champion material was as canny a political move as the Spaniard makes, but Stroll's slump during the mid part of the season was alarming.

To his credit, he did manage to turn it around late in the season with a strong run, banking 27 points from the final five races and this must be the basis a fully fit Canadian takes into what will be his eighth season.

Alpine - Is it possible to have a normal season?

If you were to lose a CEO, Team Principal, Sporting Director and Chief Technical Officer in say three years, there would be serious questions being asked.

To lose all four in the space of a few weeks in the middle of a season - or indeed in the middle of a Grand Prix weekend - then something is not right.

Alpine failed to build on the strong progress it made with the 2022 car last term, although it did actually score two podiums to none in the first year of these regulations.

All this team needs is a quiet focus on staying out of the headlines and making the type of progress it did just two years ago when upgrades worked well and a strong fourth was secured in the standings.

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	© XPBimages

Williams - Is it possible to keep Albon?

After being thrown on the F1 scrapheap after the 2020 season and spending his 2021 recreating Hamilton's lines around Silverstone, Alex Albon has rejuvenated his career as the lead driver at Williams.

He is the figurehead of the revival, with the latest step securing seventh in the standings for the team, and 27 points to his name, of all which has led to Albon being touted as a contender for a seat at possibly Ferrari or even a Red Bull return.

Albon's multi-year contract is believed to end at the end of 2024, with an option for an extension - but could the sharks be circling if Red Bull elect to drop Perez or Carlos Sainz jumps from the good ship Maranello?

AlphaTauri - How high can you go?

During his time at the helm, an oft-repeated goal from Franz Tost was to be fifth in the Constructors' - with sixth in 2019 during the final Toro Rosso season the best it managed.

New leadership team Laurent Mekies and Peter Bayer are committed to taking more parts from the senior Red Bull squad as an easy way to find 'free' performance, which has got other teams concerned.

AlphaTauri - or indeed whatever name it will carry in 2024 - ended with strong momentum in 2023 and has some of the teams hoping to cement themselves at the top worried.

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda is a good blend of experience and speed, so if the car carries on as it left 2023, fifth might be a realistic option for the former Minardi team.

Stake - Will the Audi myth be dispelled?

After the Alfa Romeo title sponsorship ended after 2023, the belief was that the Sauber name would return for 2024 and 2025 before Audi's arrival.

Instead the team will be known as Stake for those two seasons, but it must prove that it is simply not just in a holding pattern treading water awaiting Audi to turn up.

Valtteri Bottas was optimistic that steps in the right direction are being taken - but more tangible progress needs to be made with upgrades and operations to give Audi the best possible platform to run with.

Haas - How to carry on post-Steiner?

Perhaps a better name for Haas since it entered F1 in 2016 would be 'Steiner F1 Team'.

The former Team Principal had the idea to form the team, became its biggest star and attraction through Drive to Survive and was the reason some sponsors wanted in.

Everything Haas did was Steiner - so how it will cope now he is gone after owner Gene Haas elected for a shake-up with Ayao Komatsu now taking Steiner's place is the biggest question around the team.

A good place to start would be to get on top of the drastic tyre wear that ruined the 2023 season, with the VF-23 having a tendency to lunch its tyres in races.

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	© XPBimages

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