The new season of the Formula World Championship is now upon us. From Wednesday the engines will start up for the three days of collective tests in Bahrein which will host the first round.
Let us not forget that the grand prix will be run on Saturday March 2 with the programme already brought forward by one day (it will begin Thursday with free practice), just like the following weekend in Saudi Arabia (March 7-9)

READY TO GO. We left behind a season dominated by Red Bull and Max Verstappen (who took his third world title), distinguished by great competitiveness in qualifying by all the grid enclosed within less than a second, particularly in the final part of the season. Compared to 2023 the technical regulations have remained practically the same, but the teams have had a year to fine tune the details. Precisely for this reason I expect further improvement in the performances, above all in the flying lap.

BUT MORE TEST SESSIONS ARE NEEDED. It does not need to be said. The point of reference remains Red Bull. It will certainly not be easy giving interpretations after barely three days of tests, Too few. It is true that there have been no upheavals on the regulation front and the drivers’ line up, but on the other hand, how would it be possible to launch a rookie in such a long and competitive a world championship with only three days of official tests? In the last few days, the drivers have come back to the track using “old” cars to remove the rust of winter, but in no other sport are there such tight limits “on training”.

EVERYBODY IS CHASING RED BULL. As of today, everybody says they are satisfied according to the results achieved indoors, on the simulators, but nobody knows what margin the RB19 still has and how they could have improved with the RB20. From what I hear the Racing Bulls should have made another big step forward compared to last year. It will be interesting to follow these developments.

FROM VIRTUAL TO REAL. The new racing cars have been revealed in a media format. Expressing judgments is practically impossible. We need to see if what has been seen in the photos corresponds with reality. Compared with 2023 we have seen many innovations, the results of continual development. It will be interesting to follow the tests also under this aspect. With only three days with so little time from the first GP, I do not believe they will hide too much.

HAMILTON-FERRARI: As we know all the teams had confirmed their line-ups at the end of the year. We expected a “quiet” first part of the season in this respect, to then go wild towards summer, but the start of this year was anything but serene. Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton thought to stir things up a year early. Honestly, I do not share this action. My DNA is tied to young people. I urged the Federation, through our school, to set a tutoring programme towards the young drivers by also activating collaborations with the various Academies of the Teams, FDA first of all. Announcing Lewis Hamilton today with an eye to 2025 means barring the road to young drivers of your Academy. Amongst other things, it has been two years since a winner of F2 has not found a place in F1, It is true that the arrival of the Hypercar in the WRC world championship has opened new opportunities, but those who set F2 and F3 programmes must be given an opportunity in F1. The seven times World Champion is at the end of his career, but the subject is not tied to age (editor’s note, in 2025 he will be 40 years old). Fernando Alonso has shown that, with the right car, age is only a number. In any case, I hope that this is not only a marketing operation to draw attention away from a non-competitive car. What is certain is that a difficult season will begin for Mercedes and Ferrari under the management of their drivers.

HORNER CASE. I am shocked by this whole situation. At this moment there is a lot of chatter going on which is tied rather to internal struggles between the Austrian and Thai owners. I also do not understand the interest of Ford, the next supplier and partner, since all this has nothing to do with them. I am also surprised by the interest of other parties outside the team. It seems to me that it is a real feeding frenzy that certainly takes away the team’s serenity.

We are approaching a very long new season made up of 24 rounds, with a lot of curiosity and many questions to be answered.

Gian Carlo Minardi