Oscar Piastri’s big chance as F1 teams unleash make … or break changes: F1 Burning Questions (2024)

The Formula 1 paddock takes to Italy this weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the famous Imola circuit, just down the road from Ferrari’s Marinello factory.

But after Lando Norris claimed a maiden career win in Miami in a heavily-upgraded McLaren, this first race of the European leg of the F1 season is set to be a thrilling affair, given plenty of teams are bringing upgrade packages of their own. Could we see a three-way fight between Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari?

Here are the burning questions as the grid arrives in Italy.

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Oscar Piastri’s big chance as F1 teams unleash make … or break changes: F1 Burning Questions (1)


After Lando Norris stormed to a first career victory – finally – at Miami, the grid will be paying particular attention to Oscar Piastri this weekend.

In Miami he had roughly half of the full upgrade package that Norris had been given, and showed good pace even if it didn’t deliver the outcome he wanted. As he told he team website: “I didn’t get the final result I wanted in Miami, but it was one of my strongest weekends so far.”

This weekend, he’ll run the full suite of upgrades. that Norris had last time out. Will he be able to deliver?

There’s plenty of room for optimism. The car is already well suited to Imola – and the upgrades should have more of an impact here too.

As Norris said today: “I think we are just better suited to Imola, and potentially the upgrade a little bit as well.

“Imola has generally been one of our most successful tracks as a team and for me as a driver.”

But Norris today warned that the team was still third on the pecking order of pace, behind Red Bull and Ferrari, saying: “So it could be that we go out and we’re the third best team again and we’re too far behind Red Bull or Ferrari to even challenge for a podium.”

One good weekend doesn’t make a season. Lando Norris’ victory benefited from a touch of luck too, when it came to the timing of the safety car in Miami.

But there’s no doubt that McLaren has taken a step forward – which is why journalists peppered Norris with questions about whether he felt the team was still third-fastest.

Another strong performance again here could change that.

And there’s a proper chance of a three-team fight for victory.


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McLaren’s upgrades provided a major boost last time out. This time around, plenty of teams are bringing significant upgrade packages – and it could shake up the grid from front to back. Each year, we’ve become used to teams delivering major car improvements in time for the first race in the European swing, as they try to make a statement for their fans and sponsors.

That’s especially true of Ferrari this season, as they return to their home track after it was absent out last year due to flooding in the region. With over 200,000 fans set to pack into the stands this weekend – and almost all hoping for the Maranello team to reign supreme – the pressure is on the Prancing Horse.

And all indications are that they’ll unleash a major upgrade.

The package, which was sighted at a filming day last week, is based around a large-scale redesign of the sidepods and engine covers, with changes to inlets as well as a new floor and noticeably different wing mirror design. In combination, parts of the aerodynamic approach look as though Ferrari have moved closer towards the Red Bull design.

It makes sense that they’ve brought the package in one big go for this race – such a large-scale change to the car’s design means some changes under the hood to fit the engine and other components into the new shape of the housing.

That means that drip-feeding the upgrades, as other teams have done, makes less sense than bringing them all together on a weekend where there’s no sprint race – meaning more practice running to help understand and finetune the new improvements, and on a track that their car is already well-suited to.

Visually, it’s a clear change to the car. The real question is whether it delivers the kind of boost that can put them back on top of the podium.

Charles Leclerc said: “I know that visually it’s a big change, but I would be careful [about] what you see visually to not get carried away and to not have false expectations.”

And team principal Fred Vasseur said it wouldn’t be a “game-changing upgrade”.

But there are two key reasons why Ferrari could fail to live up to the hype. Firstly, Pirelli will bring the three softest-tyre compounds available for use this weekend: the C3 as hard, the C4 as medium, and the C5 as soft. Ferrari this season has sometimes struggled to get the most out of the softer tyres on the scale – especially when track temperatures are cool, which is the forecast for much of the weekend.

That combination could be a major obstacle to the Ferrari charge.

Danny Ric throws it back in Miami sprint | 01:23


Ferrari’s upgrade is believed to be the most widespread package coming to Imola – but plenty of teams will follow in their stead by debuting new components this weekend.

Red Bull are hoping to stave off the increasing threat shown by McLaren and Ferrari by bringing a minor upgrade of their own.

“We are going to have the same upgrades [on both cars],” Sergio Perez said. “We don’t expect a huge upgrade from our side.”

Mercedes brought half of an upgrade package to Miami, but struggled all weekend for consistency. They’ll bring the second half of their package to Imola and have said that more upgrades will follow in the next couple of races to come. For now, they need to address a worrying lack of comfort and consistency in the car – which drivers are reporting can handle very differently from session to session.

There were positive signs on Sunday in Miami, at least, with Lewis Hamilton showing some good pace as he finished up in sixth.

Further back, Aston Martin and Sauber are also bringing upgrade packages (though Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu said “It’s not a big one”), as are Williams and to a lesser extent Haas.

We could see plenty of surprises this weekend – or a damning reality check for the teams whose upgrades don’t pay off.


Kevin Magnussen is walking a very thin line at Haas after his performance in Miami. In the sprint race, he running eighth and desperately trying to defend Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes when he ran wide, leaving the track and gaining an advantage – seeing him cop a time penalty. In a hugely selfless act, he then turned into a blocker for his teammate Nico Hulkenberg running one spot ahead in seventh. Magnussen ran his car wide repeatedly, using all of the track – and then some – to keep Hamilton behind him. His aggressive defence saw him slammed with multiple penalties for the same offence. It got worse on the Sunday when he crashed into Logan Sargeant, meaning another penalty for the Dane.

He now has 10 penalty points on his licence. Two more – before March next year – and he’ll receive an automatic one-race suspension.

Asked if he needs to change his approach, he said: “The next time is a race ban, so I think I’ll have to, but I don’t know. I think these situations where I’ve had to play the support role for my teammate, they have been paying off. It’s been kind of valuable to us.

“I don’t love the way the rules are, that it’s possible [to get a race ban] – I would love it to not be possible at all … From myself I’m on 10 points, so I have to be careful not to get a race ban.”

But when a driver straps himself into an F1 rocket ship and white line fever takes over, it can be hard to keep that in mind. Magnussen’s selflessness may just have hurt him – and if he can’t keep a lid on his aggression this weekend, a ban could come sooner rather than later.


If Magnussen is suspended at some point this season, then young gun Oliver Bearman is likely to step in – as he will for Free Practice 1 this weekend when he replaces Magnussen in one of his six Free Practice rookie test appearances this season. It’s another big opportunity for Bearman, who exploded onto the F1 scene at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when he replaced a sick Carlos Sainz Jr and claimed points on his debut.

The Ferrari and Haas reserve driver is one of the most promising youngsters around, and with Nico Hulkenberg leaving Haas for Sauber at the end of the season, he’s firmly in contention to replace the veteran.

“Yes, of course I see it as my chance,” Bearman said in Imola.

“But just because there is a seat free doesn’t mean I’m entitled to it.

“I still have to go out there and earn it through good performances in F2, but even more so the six FPs that I’m doing.

“I have to perform well and show that I’m ready to win the F1.”

But there’s another young name on everyone’s lips – Mercedes youngster Andrea Kimi Antonelli. It was revealed in Miami that Williams officially requested the FIA grant Antonelli a Super Licence before his 18th birthday – a hint that they are hoping the 17-year-old Italian could debut before he turns 18 later this year.

He drove a 2021-spec Mercedes car in a test last month, and the team is looking at him as a potential replacement when Lewis Hamilton leaves for Ferrari next season.

But with Logan Sargeant struggling for Williams, there could be an opportunity for Antonelli to become a shock mid-season replacement.

The pressure is mounting on both Sargeant and Magnussen, for different reasons.

Young guns are waiting in the wings. But this weekend, it’s worth watching not only Bearman’s F1 practice session, but also the F2 sessions – where his battle with Antonelli makes for compelling viewing. The pair could be the next big things.

Oscar Piastri’s big chance as F1 teams unleash make … or break changes: F1 Burning Questions (2024)


Has Lando Norris won a F1 race? ›

Norris achieved the breakthrough victory in Miami at the 110th attempt, having achieved 15 podiums before that – including eight second-place finishes – and been agonisingly close to triumphing at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix.

How did Oscar Piastri get into F1? ›

Originally hailing from the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, Oscar began karting at the age of 10 before moving to England in 2016 to pursue his F1 dream. Finishing as British Formula 4 vice-champion in 2017, Oscar's breakthrough campaign came in 2019, as he won Formula Renault Eurocup with seven wins and 11 podiums.

Has Piastri got a podium? ›

Oscar Piastri was pleased to claim his first podium result of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix, having taken P2 after being unable to find a way past winner Charles Leclerc in what proved to be a “tricky race”.

How many podiums does Lando Norris have? ›

Norris has secured 16 podiums across his five years racing within Formula 1 with McLaren. His highest race finish is now 1st place after he won the 2024 Miami Grand Prix. He claimed his first podium in 2020 after finishing 3rd in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Why is Lando Norris called Lando? ›

Though he shares his name with the well-known Star Wars character Lando Calrissian, Norris has insisted that he was not named after the Billy Dee Williams-portrayed smuggler. “My mum just came up with it and she doesn't have a clue what Star Wars is.

How rich is Lando Norris' family? ›

Adam Norris, Lando's father, ranked as the 610th richest person in Britain as per the Sunday Times' annual Rich List in 2022, with a net worth of £200m.

Who was the youngest F1 driver ever? ›

The youngest driver ever in F1 was Max Verstappen in 2015 at 17 years of age. Currently, McLaren driver Oscar Piastri is the youngest driver on the F1 grid at 23 years of age.

Who has won F2 as a rookie? ›

With his championship, Piastri joined an illustrious company of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hülkenberg, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell, as the only drivers to win the GP2/F2 title in their rookie seasons.

Where does each F1 driver live? ›

Where do F1 drivers live?
Lewis HamiltonMercedesMonaco
Logan SargeantWilliamsEngland
Max VerstappenRed BullMonaco
Nico HulkenbergHaasMonaco
16 more rows
Feb 24, 2024

Who has never had a podium in F1? ›

1: Nico Hulkenberg – 536 points

Without a win, Nico Hulkenberg is also the most experienced F1 star to never achieve a podium, despite some brilliant midfield drives. Hulkenberg has never held the keys to a race-winning machine.

Who is the oldest F1 driver to get a podium? ›

1: Louis Chiron – 55 years, 292 days – Monaco 1955

Having already taken an array of Grand Prix wins and podiums, he made his mark on F1 by placing an emotional third behind Ascari and Fangio at the 1950 Monte Carlo event – his second of 15 races in the category.

Has Leclerc ever won in Monaco? ›

Winner: Charles Leclerc

The 26-year-old is the first Monegasque to win the Monaco Grand Prix in 93 years – and this is his first win since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, ending a run of 39 races without standing on the top step of the podium.

Why is Lando Norris number 4? ›

#4 - Lando Norris (McLaren)

Number 4 was not Norris' first or second choice. Instead he wanted either 11 or 31. However, these were both taken so he chose number 4 as he felt this could work well with his logo.

Has Lando Norris ever won a F1 race? ›

He was announced as a McLaren driver in 2018, alongside Carlos Sainz Jr., making his Formula One debut in 2019. He achieved his first podium in Formula One at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, his first pole position at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix and his first win at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

What languages does Lando Norris speak? ›

He speaks English and Dutch, that's facts.

Has Charles Leclerc won a F1 race? ›

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc won the restarted Monaco Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday for his first Formula 1 victory in nearly two years. Leclerc was on pole for the third time in four years, but had previously never finished on the podium at his home race.

Has Lance Stroll won a race? ›

Formula 3 Champion and F1 with Williams

He won 14 of the 30 races and clinched the series with a weekend to spare.

How many races has Lewis Hamilton won? ›

Lewis Hamilton
World titles7
Podium places197
Pole positions104
1 more row

How many races has Carlos Sainz won in F1? ›

Carlos Sainz: Driving Stats and Results

Race Wins: 1 (1 total) Pole Positions: 2 (2 total) Grand Prix: 48 (166 total) Total Podiums: 15.


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