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F1 2024: New season, schedule and how to watch live explained from A to Z ahead of Bahrain GP

What's changed? What to look out for? What you need to know about Formula 1 in 2024 ahead of this week's Bahrain GP season-opener; watch the first race live on Sky Sports F1 with practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday, and the Grand Prix on SATURDAY at 3pm

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Check out what some of the Formula 1 drivers have been up to during the off-season courtesy of their social media pages.

A is for… Around the world in 24 races

Borrowing the tagline from Sky Sports F1's new promo campaign, Formula 1 is going around the world in 24 races this year - the biggest-ever season for the sport. The 2024 campaign runs from Bahrain on March 2 to Abu Dhabi on December 8.

B is for… Bold liveries

And they don't come much bolder than this 2024 design at the new-look Sauber team - more on which below under W (honestly...). With the black carbon fibre look having become rather prominent over the past couple of years in weight-saving drives, the new C44 certainly stands out.

C is for… China's return

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, Formula 1 is returning to China and the Shanghai International Circuit in April. The race originally had an unbroken sequence on the calendar from 2004 to 2019 and served up some decent races in the past.

D is for… Driver market

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Simon Lazenby breaks down how Carlos Sainz will look to put himself in the shop window for a new seat on the 2025 Formula 1 grid.

More than half this year's grid - 13 drivers - currently don't yet have confirmed contracts for next season meaning you can already guarantee a season full of intriguing speculation, some fact, some fiction, until all the pieces of the puzzle are complete for F1 2025. 'Silly season' is primed to live up to its name in full this year.

E is for… Earlier DRS race activation

The Drag Reduction System is now part-and-parcel on Formula 1, with this the 14th season that the rear-wing flap-opening overtaking aid has been in use, but there's a notable change to the rules around its use in races for 2024. Drivers will first be able to access it - provided they are within one second of the car in front at the respective detection point - on the second lap of the race instead of the third as before. The same change goes for post-Safety Car restarts too.

F is for… F1 Academy

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Highlights of race one from the seventh round of the F1 Academy series in Austin where Marta Garcia was crowned champion after holding off Abbi Pulling for the win.

The second season of F1's all-female junior series joins the race weekend support bill this year full-time with all seven of its events (Saudi Arabia, Miami, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, Qatar, Abu Dhabi) taking place on Grand Prix weekends. All 10 F1 teams will also have increased presence in the series with affiliated drivers and car liveries. Watch the season live on Sky Sports F1.

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G is for… Guenther out, Komatsu in

All change at the top of Haas this season after the charismatic Guenther Steiner in January became the latest team principal departure over the past two years, after a near-decade spent in the role. Long-time F1 engineer Ayao Komatsu, who has also been with the team since its 2016 debut and most recently held the role of director of engineering, has been handed the job of stepping into Steiner's sizeable shoes.

H is for… Hamilton

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Sky F1's Anthony Davidson analyses Lewis Hamilton's fastest lap in the Mercedes during the second day of testing.

Transfer news in F1 2024 will get no bigger than February 1 when Lewis Hamilton stunned the sport by signing for Ferrari from next season, but the focus for the next 10 months remains on his long-time home at Mercedes as the seven-time champion bids to end their record-breaking association on a high note. How soon can he end his two-season wait for a 104th race win?

I is for… Inlets

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Ted Kravitz takes a first look at the new bold 2024 Red Bull during the first day of testing in Bahrain.

That's cooling inlets. Allow us to talk technical and say that this was a buzzword at testing, namely the ones on the new Red Bull RB20 and what appears an aggressive new approach from the world champions to their car's cooling and sidepod arrangement compared with even last year's all-conquering RB19. It didn't take their rivals long to notice.

J is for… Japan's new Spring slot

As F1 continues steps towards regionalising its calendar, the Japanese GP is the most significant mover on the 2024 schedule with Suzuka's usual autumnal slot swapped for Spring. This year's race will take place on April 5-7 either side of the events in Australia and China during what is Japan's picturesque cherry blossom season.

K is for… Kimi

Mercedes junior Kimi Antonelli could be the next big star to drive in F1 (Credit Mercedes)
Image: (Credit: Mercedes image)

No, not the 2007 world champion who retired three years ago. We're talking about Italian 17-year-old rising star who goes by the full name of Andrea Kimi Antonelli. He's a Mercedes-backed junior driver who has had a stratospheric rise through the ranks so far to the point where he has jumped straight from F4 to F2 for this year. His progress in F2 is going to be inevitably closely watched given there's a Mercedes F1 seat now surprisingly open for 2025. Watch this space, and watch both F2 and F3 live on Sky Sports F1 this year too.

L is for… Lando

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Lando Norris says he has no regrets about extending his McLaren contract despite potential openings in big teams after Lewis Hamilton's shock move to Ferrari.

Will this be the year that Lando Norris wins his first Grand Prix? Entering his sixth season of F1, Lando got closer than ever in positional terms at least in 2023 - finishing second in races six times - and McLaren are hopeful of continuing their resurgence all through this year.

M is for… Million

A story that gained a lot traction when the change was first announced by the FIA last October, a reminder that the maximum fine limit that stewards can now impose on teams and drivers has been quadruped for this year to $1m (£854,680).

N is for… NOW

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O is for... One day earlier

If you don't know already, the race week schedules for the season's opening two rounds in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have been shifted forward a day. This is due to the start of Ramadan on Sunday March 10, when the latter's Grand Prix would normally have been staged. With the Jeddah weekend therefore needing to be moved forward a day, FIA rules dictate that there must be seven days between races, hence the earlier start in Bahrain too.

Significantly, with the race weekend therefore starting on Thursday for those two events, that means the season's first two races take place on a SATURDAY in Bahrain (3pm) and Saudi (5pm) respectively

P is for… Politics

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Martin Brundle discusses where Andretti now stand in their attempts to become Formula 1's eleventh team, and why he believes more teams may benefit F1.

Always never far away in F1, the political scene in the sport is likely to be a particularly hot topic this year. That will again include focus on the relationship between the FIA and F1 and the teams - including what, if anything, happens next in the Andretti saga after the American's bid for entry in 2025 or 2026 was rejected but the door to a future re-application left ajar. Also, how much will the winter noise around the Red Bull/RB teams' relationship continue into the new campaign?

Q is for… Quadruple century

Twenty-three years after his first race as a 19-year-old, Fernando Alonso will become the first driver to reach 400 Grand Prix starts this year. Alonso, who turns 43 in July, is due to reach the milestone at the season's penultimate round in Qatar on December 1. By then he will have competed in 36 per cent of all F1 world championship races ever held!

R is for… Record-breaking

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Craig Slater is joined by Ted Kravitz to discuss the top-10 pecking order after F1 testing in Bahrain ahead of the season-opening Grand Prix.

Those 24 races we mentioned for this year represent a record in the sport's 75-season history, two more than the previous benchmark of 22 set in each of the past three campaigns.

S is for… Sprint shake-up

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Oscar Piastri holds his nerve to claim his first Sprint win as Max Verstappen finishes second to secure his third world title.

There are again six Sprint weekends this year (this time in China, Miami, Austria, Austin, Brazil and Qatar) but they will now run to a different race weekend schedule to before to give a more logical and straightforward structure to those weekends.

After a single practice session on Friday, the Sprint Shootout - the qualifying session that determines the grid for the Sprint - will follow later that day before the 100km Sprint itself on Saturday. Once that is all done and dusted, full focus will be on the main event of the weekend with Qualifying for the Grand Prix later on the Saturday followed by the full Grand Prix itself on Sunday.

T is for…Transfers

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Lewis Hamilton discusses his reasoning for moving to Ferrari and his relationship with team principal Frederic Vasseur.

Thanks to Hamilton's impending switch to Ferrari we already know that this winter's static grid line-up won't be repeated next year, but you can also surely expect a flurry of further moves between teams for 2025 given the current in-flux state of the driver market.

U is for... Under pressure

As Martin Brundle often says, you're either giving pressure or taking it in F1, and that adage is certainly true for many this year. Can Sergio Perez deliver an improved season and hang on to his Red Bull seat for 2025? Will Alpine finally break out of midfield mediocrity? Can Haas avoid another 10th-place finish? And so on...

V is for… Verstappen

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Max Verstappen gives his thoughts on how the RB20 has performed during testing.

Can the reigning triple world champion be beaten this year? Off the back of what was statistically the most dominant-ever title-winning campaign in 2023, Max Verstappen is now aiming to climb another step up the ladder on F1's hall of fame by joining Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel as a winner of at least four world titles.

W is for… What do we call them?

Not that there hasn't been much else going on of course, but a question which has undoubtedly taken up some time this winter in F1 circles is what exactly are the teams formerly known as AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo going to be colloquially known by?

Now, much has been made about their mouthful full new team names - for AlphaTauri see Visa Cash App RB and for Alfa Romeo see Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber - but referring to them in that way is no more likely than people always calling Mercedes as Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team or Alpine as BWT Alpine F1 Team (other team names with title sponsors are available).

So to keep things a little more straightforward, it seems most will be going with the sponsor-less chassis names of RB and Sauber. Simple!

X is for… Xtra feeds

We're cheating slightly here, but we certainly want you to know that there's more than one, more than two, more than three... ok you get the gist, let's just say there are a multitude of ways to watch and enjoy a Grand Prix live with Sky Sports F1.

In addition to the main live feed, logged-in Sky F1 subscribers can head to Race Control on the Sky Sports app during live sessions to gain access to all 20 driver onboards with team radio, the battle channel, driver tracker, onboard mix and timing sheet.

Y is for… Young drivers

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28: Oliver Bearman, Haas F1 Team during the Abu Dhabi Post-Season Testing at Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday November 28, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jake Grant / LAT Images)

A one to remember rather than one that's new but once again all teams will have to give over two first practice sessions during the year to drivers with fewer than three Grands Prix starts to their name. That rule could take on extra significance this year with so many seats up for grabs in 2025 and lots of promising young drivers looking to break through into the big time.

Britain's Oliver Bearman (pictured above) is one such hopeful, with the 18-year-old serving as one of Ferrari's F1 reserve drivers this year in addition to racing for a second season in Formula 2 after winning four races and finishing sixth in the standings in his debut campaign.

Z is for… Zhou

Well, who else could it be? Zhou Guanyu starts his third season on the grid but, for the first time, has his home Chinese Grand Prix on the calendar. He is one of 14 drivers in the field with a home GP to look forward to this year.

Sky Sports F1's live Bahrain GP schedule

Wednesday February 28

  • 12.30pm: Drivers' Press Conference
  • 3pm: The F1 Show - 2024 Preview

Thursday February 29

  • 7.50am: F3 Practice
  • 9am: F2 Practice
  • 11am: Bahrain GP Practice One (session starts at 11.30am)
  • 12.55pm: F3 Qualifying
  • 1.40pm: F2 Qualifying
  • 2.35pm: Bahrain GP Practice Two (session starts at 3pm)
  • 4.15pm: The F1 Show

Friday March 1

  • 10.10am: F3 Sprint Race
  • 12.15pm: Bahrain GP Practice Three (session starts at 12.30pm)
  • 2.10pm: F2 Sprint
  • 3.10pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying build-up
  • 6pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Saturday March 2

  • 8.55am: F3 Feature Race
  • 10.25am: F2 Feature Race
  • 1.30pm: Bahrain GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 5pm: Bahrain GP reaction: Chequered Flag
  • 6pm: Ted's Notebook
  • 6.30pm: Bahrain GP highlights

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