What. A . Week! Formula 1's first seven days of February 2024 became the sport's most breathless period in recent years, and came at just the right time.
Not content with usurping all of English football on transfer deadline day with Lewis Hamilton's Ferrari switch, F1 news has just kept coming nearly every day since that shock announcement.
F1 2023: Too Much For Me?
I'll be honest and say that the final run to Abu Dhabi last year was a slog with five races — plus two Sprint events — spread over a six-week period, sapping a lot of joy from the F1 fan behind this journalist.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull's supremacy didn't help, of course, with Sunday's Dutch-Austrian duel national anthem being the inevitable soundtrack to penning post-race notes all through the 2023 season.
The Groundhog Day effect was setting in, and I appreciated the Christmas break and lull before the car launches more than in any other season.
The Guenther Steiner news came just around that annual moment where I have my somewhat existential crisis about why I'm spending my life watching cars drive around in circles.
Friends who solely watch Drive to Survive and see me as their F1 guru wanted my thoughts (it's always nice to feel useful), and the unexpectedness of the announcement gave me a brief reminder about what the sport is like when it's unpredictable.
Sadly, the Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris contract extensions in an off-season without change dampened those embers of F1 optimism again, with Ferrari and McLaren making two logical but expected (re)signings.
Couple this with the underwhelming idea of a city-based Spanish GP in Madrid replacing Barcelona and Andretti's failed bid to broaden the grid... that Steiner shock seemed a long way off.
F1 2024: Give Me Even More
Then Thursday February 1st 2024, happened, and everything changed.
We all now know everything there is to know about Hamilton jumping ship to Ferrari, but that's because the seven-time champ reminded us, even those most jaded with the modern-day sport, how much F1 fills our hearts.
We know everything there is to know because, no matter your racing affiliation, that story regressed us all into wide-eyed children feverishly re-watching our favourite race on VHS (am I showing my age?), determined to find something new.
Scarlet red race suits with Hamilton's Photoshopped head NOT being YouTube thumbnail clickbait but a reality we'll exist in just one year from now is a mouthwatering prospect.
Yet it didn't stop there. Maybe the Hamilton-Ferrari combination heightened all my F1 senses, but the following week of news has had me on the edge of my seat awaiting the next twist.
Might Sebastian Vettel make a sensational return? Is Sergio Perez actually the Mexican Minister of Defence? Will Mika Hakkinen's sabbatical end? Everything seemed possible again.
That some outlets dropped Bernie Ecclestone in the drama as the voice of reason seems both believable and bizarre, but with everything else going on, I'm at the point where I'll gobble up all the gossip to sate my F1 appetite.
A high-profile rebranding of Stake F1 mired with alleged legal issues about using the sponsor's name and the fanbase just calling the Hinwil-team Sauber again is the epitome of pre-season shenanigans — and I'm not even touching that fluorescent livery.
Yet we're not even close to done, with Singapore's future in the balance amid a corruption investigation showing that, even in 2024, F1's long history of questionable contracts and deals with the devil continues.
Silverstone's great news about a 10-year contract extension is the cherry on top of all the craziness and bookends the week nicely, particularly for me as a Brit.
Madrid may have beaten out Barcelona, but the British GP remaining away from street circuits was the perfect tonic to see out February's first week with optimism about F1's future.
Although there are question marks hanging over nearly every story seen in the last week, some with potentially bleak endings, I felt engaged in Formula 1's uncertainty again at a level I probably haven't since those 90 minutes at Marina Bay last year.
Presumably, like anyone else who has somehow read this far, I'll always watch Formula 1 even when it lives up to the most apt description I know: "A sport where anything can happen, and it usually doesn't".
Yet February 2024 reminded me that I don't just watch F1; I love F1. And I cannot wait for the 2024 season to begin.
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