Which F1 team is best placed to challenge Red Bull in 2024?

2024 is here and with the first race of the season just 61 days away in Bahrain, Crash.net is taking a look at which team is best placed to rival Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 leave the pits. Formula 1 World
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren…

F1 2023 was an unprecedented year of dominance for Red Bull as they won 21 of the 22 races.

Max Verstappen claimed his third consecutive drivers’ title with relative ease, wrapping it up at the Qatar Grand Prix at the start of October.

He broke a plethora of records along the way, cementing his name as one of F1’s greatest-ever drivers.

With the technical regulations remaining stable over the winter, many expect their nearest rivals - Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin - to close up as the grid begins to converge.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 leads at the start of the race. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 leads at the start of the race…

Red Bull boss Christian Horner is confident his team will not be as dominant in 2024 due to this reason.

“If you remember, that was their most dominant year ever and yet, we were able to beat them in ’21,” Horner said. “There is a subtle rule change but I think that nothing stands still. We’ve seen competitors coming closer at different venues and I’m sure concepts will converge.

“Stable regulations always concertina. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to repeat the season that we’ve had, but hopefully, we can take the lessons from RB19 and apply them to the RB20 and come up with a car that we can defend these titles with.

“It’s been different people at different times. It’s swung around from McLaren having a surge, Ferrari having a surge, Mercedes turning up at one point, so it’s moved around from venue to venue,” he pointed out.

In 2023, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all exchanged places as Red Bull’s nearest challenger.

So heading into the new season - without seeing any of the new cars on track - who is most likely going to be Red Bull’s biggest threat?


Mercedes managed to secure second in the constructors’ championship, beating Ferrari by just four points in 2023.

That didn’t tell the full story, as on balance, Mercedes achieved that on consistency rather than having the second-fastest car.

Quite often, the other three teams, particularly Ferrari and McLaren, had bigger peaks, meaning they were the ones pushing Verstappen on the odd occasion for race victories.

Given Mercedes’ recent championship success - eight consecutive constructors’ titles between 2014 and 2021 - it’s a fair to tip them as the team is likely to take it to Red Bull and Verstappen.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

But so far in the ground effect era, Mercedes haven’t got it right once.

Compared to Ferrari, who started the 2022 with the fastest car, or McLaren, who have understood their concept which propelled them up the field, Mercedes haven’t shown that they have the knowledge or understanding of these regulations.

Mercedes claim they have learned their lesson - but they said the same at the end of 2022.

2024 is a big year for Mercedes as if they get it wrong again, then surely it won’t be until 2026 - when the new rules come into play - when they can challenge again.


Ferrari’s wait for championship success goes on after another disappointing season.

Their decision to abandon their high downforce, high drag philosophy in favour of straight-line speed performance initially back-fired.

Not only was their 2023 car difficult to drive, it was simply too slow, with their high tyre degradation woes continuing.

Star driver Charles Leclerc struggled - by his own high standards, initially - as Ferrari were forced to adopt an understeer-orientated car setup.

Carlos Sainz flourished before a Japan upgrade altered the car’s handling characteristics, taking the only non-Red Bull win of the season.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race Day.-
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15,…

The main positives for Ferrari were that they did manage to improve their car as the season progressed - something they failed to do in 2017, 2018 or 2022, when they had serious potential to win the title - and their ultimate peaks were seriously impressive.

Reliability continues to be a concern, while Leclerc and Sainz are still liable to the occasional unforced error.

More often than not, Ferrari have a competitive F1 car, and while operationally they have improved under Frederic Vasseur’s leadership, all of these ingredients coming together is probably still not enough to take on the might of Red Bull.


The surprise package of 2023 was McLaren.

It’s easy to forget that after the opening two races, McLaren had failed to score a single point, with many seriously questioning the Woking-outfit.

Their Austria upgrade was transformative, taking them from a midfield team to often being Red Bull’s nearest challenger.

They excelled on high-speed circuits, so improving their low-speed performance will be key to challenging for race victories.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday.- www.xpbimages.com, EMail:
Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit,…

In terms of drivers, it’s hard to fault Lando Norris despite his occasional qualifying blunder at the back-end of the year.

He still has to prove he can go head-to-head with Verstappen, particularly in a wheel-to-wheel battle, but in terms of pace and consistency - he’s right up there.

McLaren seem to have understood these regulations and, in theory, should be able to build on their strong second half of last year.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin surprised everyone by starting 2023 as the second-fastest team.

It was short-lived as they fell back in the development race before a mini-resurgence at the end of the year.

Aston Martin haven’t quite shown they have the consistency to be a team capable of mounting a title charge.

There’s a lot of positives though, and with Honda joining them for 2026, it could be a couple of years before they’re a real threat for regular wins in F1.

Felipe Drugovich (BRA) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23, Reserve and Development Programme Driver. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina
Felipe Drugovich (BRA) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23, Reserve and Development…

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