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  • Writer's pictureToni Sokolov

F1 2024 Bahrain test analysis and pecking order prediction

F1 2024 pre-season testing in Bahrain - Red Bull
Photo credit: Pirelli Media

Formula 1 is entering its 74th season with a huge number of races (24) only two years from a completely new set of rules that will reshuffle the grid. With that in mind, teams have a big task of nailing this season as development will turn towards 2026 by the end of September for most teams on the grid.

These 2024 F1 cars are a base for the 2025 season and don’t expect to see drastic changes in concepts one year from now. With all that in mind, read the 2024 Formula 1 tests analysis and potential pecking order in the first five races!


This car in the hands of Max Verstappen, looks like the force to beat in the upcoming season. Red Bull had a very good test once again. With 390 laps over three days of testing, they’re 3rd in mileage completed, only behind Haas and Ferrari. Red Bull looked like the quickest and most consistent car on the track, especially when we take a look at their race simulations/long runs that were relevant in comparison to the other teams on track in similar conditions. 

On day 2 with hot mid-day conditions, Sergio Perez was at the wheel of RB20 and did C3-C2-C1 stints in which he managed to average 1:38.652 (C3), 1:38.479 (C2) and 1:37.129 (C1) for his last stint. What was important for the pace comparison was Ferrari. Charles Leclerc was doing what seemed like a car that was almost race-fuel weight, and he only did a first stint C3 long run that averaged 1:39.057. Exactly 0.405 per lap slower on average! Leclerc did start his stint with 5-6 lap-old mediums (quali sim), but it does give us an insight into the potential pace. If we count in that Max has at least 0.3 tenths over Perez, the gap grows. 

On the last day of testing, Max Verstappen had impressive long run stints, which resembled a car that was race fuel-heavy. If again, we draw a comparison to Leclerc who was on a full-race simulation on the same tyres and same conditions, Max had an advantage of around 6 tenths on C3 tyres averaging 1:37.256, while Leclerc managed 1:37.882 with C3. It’s important to highlight the fact that Verstappen basically had zero tyre degradation and he only did 3 laps less than Leclerc before heading into the pits for a refuel and new tyres. Red Bull did the same long-run stints on C1 and C2 averaging 37.1 with zero deg and 36.938 on C2 Pirelli compound. I will assume that Red Bull did these stints with about 85-90 kilos of fuel in the car for all three runs. Only Aston Martin with Alonso had a similar degradation to Red Bull, but more on them later. 

Red Bull seems to be in front again, and that won’t change for at least the first 5 races. But they do look dominant once again. This is why, I’m putting them at No.1 position.


Ferrari looks to be 2nd force on the grid, right behind Red Bull. In many ways, Ferrari made drastic changes to their car and aero concept. Overall, their test was very successful with 416 laps completed and no real issues with reliability. The main focus of Ferrari was to improve their poor tyre management in the races, which resulted in so many lost points in 2023. Their program mainly focused on the long run pace with different setup and cooling options. It was important for Ferrari to understand if their changes made any difference to their tyre wear while keeping what was a good trait of their car  - quali pace. 

Ferrari did improve in their tyre management on heavy fuel, but from the data, we can still see that it’s not on the level of speed and consistency of a Red Bull RB20 car. There is a strong belief that a step in the right direction was made, but we still need to see the car in real-life conditions with Mercedes, McLaren, and Aston Martin not being much behind them. Leclerc was able to drive a good race simulation averaging 37.882 on C3s, 36.394 on C1, and a shorter stint on C2 compound that averaged 34.983 with a lower fuel left in the car. Ferrari’s simulation was quite a bit quicker than Piastri’s in the same conditions with the same tyre compounds. 

Quali pace of the car seems to be a strong point once again but with a good improvement in race conditions. For now, they are a 2nd team behind Red Bull coming into the first races of the season.


With Hamilton leaving the team, Mercedes will have a tough season of adjusting to the new future. This year is very important for them after two cars that were very inconsistent from weekend to weekend. The car is more conventional for this season and it’s hard to assess how good it is. The W15 looked a bit lively on the rear once again, especially when pushing for quali simulations. The grip on the rear still lacks but improves once softer tyres are on the car. For example, Ferrari and Red Bull looked again like the cars that have a stronger rear traction and it shows on a track like Bahrain that’s rear limited. 

Mercedes didn’t do a proper race simulation, but they did some long runs in similar conditions as other top teams. They don’t look as quick as Ferrari on a one-lap pace, in race conditions Ferrari looked to be marginally ahead with a 0.1 - 0.2 gap. It depends on a track-by-track basis and we will find out more as the season progresses. For now, I would put them in the No.3 position. 


This could be a similar type of season for Aston Martin as the 2023 season they started strong and lost their way after TDs and missteps in the car development. Aston looked strong in the long-run race simulations with Alonso times putting Aston in contention with Ferrari and Mercedes. Their problem could be the same as last year, with them lacking in the qualifying pace.

If we have a look at McLaren and the issues they had with reliability and pace not being as strong, mostly because of tyre management, I would bet my money on Aston Martin over McLaren for the start of the season.


McLaren had a rough test with subpar reliability. This has been the case since 2022 and it shows that McLaren hasn’t improved on this end for the last couple of years. This makes them underprepared and behind the other top teams, as they simply can’t go over their running program and make sense of their car before the start of the season. They were second to last with the number of laps being 327, only in front of Williams.

Their race simulation with Piastri on day 3 in the late afternoon (same time, same tyres as Ferrari) was much slower than the Ferrari. On average, they lacked 0.7 - 0.9 tenths per lap, which isn’t a great look. 

For now, they just can’t be in front of Ferrari, Mercedes, or even Aston Martin as things stand after the pre-season testing.


This is a tough call, but Racing Bulls and Alpine looked like a close match for the P6 in the current pecking order. Their long run/race sims looked fairly similar, with Racing Bulls having a better pure pace but with worse tyre management. Alpine was like in the last couple of years, hiding their pace and they were very much under the radar since launch, but we can see some potential in their car. They arrived with some big changes on their car, but Racing Bull's advantage could be in the form of the new Red Bull spec suspension from 2023 and Honda PU which is more powerful and reliable than the Renault PU. 

This is why it’s hard to compare these teams, but for now, they’re too close to call with my information. 


The famous British team had reliability issues that are only comparable to McLaren. Logan Sergeant had a spin coming into the tough T9 corner over the bump on the first day of the test. It’s important to say that their pace didn’t look so bad. They weren’t too far from Racing Bulls or Alpine, but reliability and pace-wise, they’re behind those two. 

Williams is definitely in front of Sauber and Haas with their tyre management and pure pace as Albon keeps improving and pushing the Williams in the right direction. 


Sauber had a massive change to certain parts of their car, as they’re trying to mimic what Red Bull had in 2023. Unfortunately, they don’t look that fast in the race. Even though their tyre management is alright, the pace isn’t there to compete for more than a P9. 

Bottas and Zhou are also no match for Albon and some other drivers in the midfield, and their strategy calls are still questionable year in and year out. 

10. HAAS

The team with the most laps in the 2024 Bahrain test is - Haas. With 441 completed laps, both K-Mag and Hulkenberg got their necks and bodies tested before the season even started. The car just doesn’t look that good in any of the scenarios. Tyre wear issues are still present and the pace of the car is lacking in the race simulations. They lacked about 0.5 tenths per lap behind Racing Bulls/Alpine and about 0.3 behind Williams. 

They do have a seemingly good reliability and safe pair of hands in their car, but the pace just isn’t there. There will be upgrades coming soon, but they won’t fight for many points in the first half of the season.

Pre-season testing race simulations and long-run lap times from Day 3:

Day 3 race pace: Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Aston Martin

Day 3 race pace: Williams, Sauber, Haas

Conclusion and final pecking order

Pecking order prediction

  1. Red Bull

  2. Ferrari - gap + 0.4 - 0.6 per lap

  3. Mercedes - gap + 0.1 - 0.3 per lap

  4. Aston Martin - gap + 0.2 per lap

  5. McLaren - gap + 0.2 per lap

  6. Racing Bulls - gap + 0.3 - 0.4 per lap

  7. Alpine - gap + 0 per lap

  8. Williams - gap + 0.2 per lap

  9. Sauber - gap +0.3 per lap

  10. Haas - gap + 0.1 per lap

These predictions are based only on what we’ve seen from this year's three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain. Things could be much different on the track like Jeddah or Japan which are front-limited in their nature and when teams have a bit more mileage and knowledge about their cars and competition. 

For now, Red Bull looks to be the best car by a big margin. It doesn’t look unreachable, but with the budget cap and 2026 on the horizon, teams will need to assess their priorities for 2025 and beyond.


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