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Formula 1

Gary Anderson's trackside verdict on every 2024 F1 car

by Gary Anderson
5 min read

Amid the muddiness of laptimes, run plans and condition changes that cloud the competitive picture in Formula 1 testing, there’s one thing that cannot lie - the behaviour of the cars on the track.

That’s why The Race always makes the effort to watch from trackside during testing to build up a picture of how the cars behave, their characteristics, balance, consistency and poise across a range of runs.

While it’s far from scientific, there’s plenty to be learned.

Our resident ex-F1 technical director, Gary Anderson, has decades of experience watching cars closely from trackside – including those of his own design – and has always valued the understanding gained from seeing how they behave on track.

He headed to the deceptively long Turn 11 left-hander – usually taken in fifth gear on a fast lap – regularly throughout the test to get a picture of how the cars are really going.

So here's what Anderson saw, running through the teams in 2023 championship order:


Even on the race runs, you can see how strong the Red Bull is in terms of the corner speed that can be carried.

There were times on Thursday when Perez was a little conservative on turn-in and picked up understeer, but generally the car looks to be working better than it was on Wednesday morning when it was looking a bit too front-limited.

It’s certainly not looking like a car you’d want to bet against.


The Mercedes doesn’t look bad, but it does look a little unstable.

It had relatively sharp turn-in characteristics during a Thursday morning stint. That’s something you normally associate with low-fuel runs, but the pace indicated this was on much higher fuel.

So I do wonder if the rear instability of last year hasn’t been completely cured, even if it is a big improvement as George Russell suggests. It could be that it is slightly limiting the driver on entry and generating understeer later in the corner.

There’s no reason for panic and the Mercedes looks like it’s up there in the group chasing Red Bull - but not necessarily at the front of it.


When the Ferrari wasn’t hitting drain covers - which it did while I was watching at Turn 11 this morning - it was looking like a good, consistent car.

But just as it doesn’t grab me from a technical perspective, the same is true by how it looks on track.

Speaking with Carlos Sainz when I was out there this morning he seemed pretty pleased with progress but doubted Ferrari has the speed of Red Bull.

After last year, the main thing is for the car to be consistent, with a good front end and stable rear - and it looks like it has that. But as Sainz said, it doesn’t quite have that edge of grip that Red Bull does.


The McLaren looks sharp on turn-in but generally seems to avoid picking up too much understeer mid-corner and looks fairly consistent.

That means it’s one of the better cars in terms of feeding in the throttle at the exit. It looks absolutely like a car in that chasing group behind Red Bull.


Whether in the hands of Fernando Alonso or Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin looks like a good, sensible car.

The drivers can carry the speed, the traction is good and they can feed in the power positively and relatively early in the exit phase - and any understeer the car picks up is easily manageable.

It’s difficult to say how quick it is, but like last year’s car at this point in the season it’s working well.


Every time I’ve seen the Alpine arrive into Turn 11 it looks like a new experience for the driver - so, not very consistent.

Both drivers are having to work a little harder than they’d ideally like and it just seems not to be as planted as the frontrunners that Alpine really should be biting at the heels of, as a works outfit.

It isn’t doing anything particularly wrong, but it just looks like a car is lacking in the downforce needed to be in the top half of the field.


The Williams doesn’t look like the most connected car and when watching Logan Sargeant on his race run through the long left-hander, he almost seemed to be taking it in stages.

But the car eventually rotated reasonably well and he was able to get back on the power. So it seems fairly consistent based on the way it looked on a reasonable fuel load.


When I first saw the RB on Wednesday morning, it looked a little unstable. You could see the rear end moving when the driver tried to apply the initial throttle mid-corner and that made it difficult to be precise.

But on Thursday it’s been far more convincing. It turns in well, has reasonable grip through the corner and generally can carry the speed.

There’s a bit of understeer, which means that the driver has to delay getting on the throttle a little at the exit but this definitely looks like a car that can be in the mid-pack.


The Sauber is relatively lively on turn-in and when the car does what the driver wants, the speed is carried well. But there are also times when it goes wrong.

I spotted a couple of tiny lock-ups that led to Bottas running wide on Thursday afternoon but this looks like a perfectly decent place for Sauber to work from.


You’d have to say that the Haas is generally doing what the driver wants it to do in that it’s reasonably responsive and consistent.

The team is just focusing on race runs so carrying a heavy fuel load most of the time.

It just doesn’t look like it’s got a huge amount of grip. New technical director Andrea de Zordo was saying earlier that the car seems to be a step forward in terms of aerodynamic consistency, which should be good news for tyre use.

So this looks like a good, solid car that’s not doing anything untoward. It just needs to be quicker.

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