Things to know ahead of the 2024 F1 season

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With the short three-day pre-season testing done and dusted, F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó picks out a few important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the 2024 F1 season.

Calendar – The 2024 F1 calendar is set to become the longest schedule in the history of the sport with 24 races running from 2 March to 8 December.

As part of F1’s sustainability push, the calendar has been created in a way that travelling between races could be shortened. After the season-opening Bahrain, Saudi Arabian and Australian Grands Prix, the field is set to make a trip to Suzuka as the Japanese Grand Prix has gained a much earlier spot than usual.

Following the Suzuka round, the Chinese Grand Prix will make its return back to the sport after a three-year absence before the field heads to Miami.

Imola will stage the opening European round in May, followed by the Monaco Grand Prix. While the field leaves Europe for the Canadian Grand Prix, the coming weeks will see the 20 drivers race on European tracks with Barcelona, Spielberg, Silverstone, Budapest, Spa creating an intense flow of races.

Following a four-week summer break, the field will return at Zandvoort at the Dutch Grand Prix with Italy’s Monza set to bring the European leg of the season to a close.

Singapore has retained its late September spot on the calendar which will be then followed by four races on the American continent – the United Stated Grand Prix in Texas, the Mexico City Grand Prix, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix and the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The first two weekends of December will see the field complete the final two races of the season with Qatar and Abu Dhabi set to bring the season to a close.

Rookie drivers – For the first time since 1950, the Formula One field will not sport any new faces as there have been no transfers between teams and no rookies have arrived for the upcoming season. It means that each of the ten existing team will race with the same driver line-up as they have done in 2023.

There will be three world champions on the grid – two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso is set to race for Aston Martin for the second consecutive year, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will drive for Mercedes for the last time before he departs to Ferrari while three-time world champion Max Verstappen stays at reigning champion team Red Bull.

Quicker decisions – Should a team disagree with a decision of the FIA stewards over the course of a race weekend, they are entitled to appeal it and seek for a review.

Previously, teams were able to lodge such an appeal 14 days from the decision being made, but now they must do so within four days – or 96 hours – with the potential for a 24-hour extension to that deadline in special circumstances.

The change was necessary after a few key decisions in 2023 took much longer than normal or hoped, and some race results were unofficial for several weeks. The sport has now addressed the issue so race results can be made official and final earlier.

F1 Sprints – A new-look format has been announced for the six-race 2024 Sprint calendar, which includes two new locations. The Chinese Grand Prix will not only make its return to the calendar, but will stage its first sprint race as well. The Miami Grand Prix will also feature a Sprint for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, the São Paulo Grand Prix will host its fourth Sprint, and Austria will run its third. The US Grand Prix in Austin and the Qatar Grand Prix will feature an F1 Sprint for the second time.

Following complaints from teams, drivers and fans, the sport has revised the schedule of sprint weekend. The Sprint Shootout, which determines the grid for the Sprint, will now take place on a Friday after Free Practice. The Sprint itself will be the first event on a Saturday, with points being handed out to the top eight finishers: the winner gets eight points, and the driver in eighth gains one point - the same as in 2023.

The Sprint remains a standalone event that doesn’t affect the starting grid on Sunday. Qualifying for the Grand Prix will then take place on Saturday following the conclusion of the race.

Power unit rules - Last year, teams were allowed to use four of each of the internal combustion engine (ICE), motor generator unit – heat (MGU-H), motor generator unit – kinetic (MGU-K), and turbocharger (TC) before they would pick up a grid penalty.

That was due to the length of the season, and the sport wanted to decrease that amount back to three units. However, the F1 Commission decided to keep the number of units at four because of long schedule that features a record-high 24 Grands Prix.

Filming days – Formula One teams are heavily limited when it comes to on-track testing. Apart from the pre-season testing and the post-season tyre testing, Pirelli completes tyre testing that aims at evaluating of tyre structures and compounds for the coming season.

The only real opportunity to test the actual car during the season is promotional days. Teams have an allocation of two promotional/filming days on which they can record footage of their car, but they are restricted to Pirelli's special tyres and they are also limited of mileage on those days.

Previously, teams were limited to 100 kilometres of running on such filming days – which amounts to less than 20 laps of a typical track. A new rule sees teams get an additional 100kms which means that they will be able to cover a total of 200kms on a promotional day.

New components and spare parts - While teams have more opportunities for show runs and filming, the sport has addressed a rule that could have been misinterpreted. Previously, a potential loophole allowed teams to test new components on old cars. A revised rule now prevents teams from using brand-new items on their old cars.

Increased CapEx limits - - The sport introduced a cost cap for the 2021 season, which has been constantly lowered since then. While this financial ceiling includes a huge chunk of teams' expenditures, there are a few items that fall outside this rule, including the drivers' salary and the salary of teams' three highest-paid members or the marketing costs.

Moreover, teams can upgrade their facilities, which is limited by the capital investments [CapEx] that dictate that teams are now allowed to spend more over a four-year period.

The previous limit was $45m for the rolling four years. It has now been increased to $65m for the four teams that have finished in the bottom four of the standings on average since 2020 (Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Williams).

The three teams that have averaged in the middle of the standings in that time (McLaren, Aston Martin and Alpine) all have an increased CapEx limit of $58m, while the top three of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari can spend $51m (£40m, €47m) over the four-year period.

Fans' celebration - Over the past season, several races saw fans celebrate their favourite drivers and teams on the race track with the help of a variety of pyrotechnic products. This has often caused visibility issues for drivers, mainly on tracks that are closely confined by walls or grandstands.

While several race tracks, including the Hungaroring introduced zero-tolerance for such pyrotechnic products, there was no general ban. The FIA has now imposed a complete ban on the use of 'pyrotechnic' products as per the International Sporting Code. This includes all items containing exothermic substances intended for producing light, sound, smoke, gas, or any combination thereof.

Even more strict roll hoop requirements - As already referenced a year ago, there have been a number of changes made to roll hoop requirements in response to Zhou Guanyu’s serious crash at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix. The Chinese driver was shaken, but sustained no injuries during his scary accident. However, the sport introduced stricter rules regarding the roll hoop structure as a reaction for 2023.

Last year's stricter rules revolved around the shape of the roll hoop design and a minimum height for the point of application of the homologation test. The new rules for 2024 dictated that the roll hoops must be able to withstand a much stricter load test to make them even more robust in the case of a similar accident to the one Zhou experienced.

Plan for wheel displays dropped - Since the introduction of the 2022 regulations, cars have had wheel covers that have an impact on aerodynamics. These have also opened up opportunities for displaying information, and originally the intention was for wheel covers to carry a rotating display within them this year.

However, the sport has formally abandoned plans to introduce LED wheel covers for the 2024 F1 season, but this could be an option for coming seasons.

DRS activation - Formula One introduced the drag reduction system in 2021 in a bid to promote overtaking. Since then, the DRS can be activated two laps after race starts and restarts. Last year saw the sport experiment in sprint races by allowing drivers to activate the system a lap earlier.

That rule will be now introduced in the races as well which will see drivers attack their rivals with the help of DRS a lap after race starts. This means that instead of waiting until the third lap to activate their rear wing, the drivers will only have to wait until the second lap. This rule will also apply after a safety car intervention.