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Ricciardo leaving RB? Vettel back in F1? A dozen CRAZY 2024 predictions

Ricciardo leaving RB? Vettel back in F1? A dozen CRAZY 2024 predictions

Ricciardo leaving RB? Vettel back in F1? A dozen CRAZY 2024 predictions

Ricciardo leaving RB? Vettel back in F1? A dozen CRAZY 2024 predictions

While the on-track action hasn't delivered quite what fans hoped it would so far in 2024, Formula 1 has provided plenty of entertainment off the track so far this season.

With Lewis Hamilton's sudden switch to Ferrari and the ongoing Red Bull Racing civil war growing in ferocity, the perfect storm of paddock drama has created a new, previously unthinkable driver move: Max Verstappen to Mercedes.

Not only that, but speculation over Adrian Newey's future with the team is in question as the collateral fallout spreads.

It's made us wonder what else 2024 could hold in store for us, so here are 10 other tantalisingly unexpected stories we might see this season.

READ MORE: Pit-stop disasters and Hamilton gesture - 5 things you may have missed at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Adrian Newey and Max Verstappen might leave Red Bull

Ricciardo's mid-season Red Bull Return

It's the rumour that never goes away, but Daniel Ricciardo going full circle to end up at Red Bull Racing feels inevitable to me.

The honey badger making the switch during an ongoing championship, however? That's where the spice level rises, but Horner's team have plenty of previous form.

A few poor performances from Sergio Perez and a Ricciardo promotion from RB to Red Bull could happen sooner rather than later.

Early Antonelli Advance

Could Andrea Kimi Antonelli debut in F1 this season?

There's one problem with the theory that Verstappen might join Mercedes in 2025 thanks to the German manufacturer having their own homegrown talent they have high hopes for.

Should Andrea Kimi Antonelli meet the incredibly high expectation levels, many think the Italian could join F1 as soon as next year.

It'd be a risk for an unknown quantity in F1 machinery, but fortunately for Antonelli, he already has the prerequisite superlicence points to race in F1, just not the age.

Might Mercedes convince the likes of Williams to trial him after Antonelli's summer break birthday with a hefty engine discount? Stranger things have happened...

READ MORE: Verstappen admits Horner saga 'damaging' for Red Bull

Superior Seb

Have we seen the last of Sebastian Vettel?

Uncertainty around Red Bull is fuelling so much speculation, so who better for Horner to recruit than long-time ally Sebastian Vettel to help steady the ship?

The four-time champion took all his titles with Horner and remains connected to the sport with his passion for sustainability.

There's nowhere more public for Vettel to further that ambition than the world champions, where he could join the team in a senior position similar to — or in place of — Helmut Marko.

New York City GP

Three grands prix across the USA shows the sport's direction, and with Miami and Vegas continuing the trend of street circuits, it's not unrealistic to think another announcement may come in 2024.

A race in Chicago is already heavily rumoured

Chicago is the heavily rumoured event, but let's not forget that the idea of a New York race has bounced around for years.

Liberty Media seem to know how to turn the wildest idea into reality, like racing down The Strip, so F1 taking over a few blocks in Manhattan might be their next trick.

End of the 'F' Word

Could Ford pull out of joining F1 altogether?

Although the partnership may seem too large for either party to bail out, Ford's public frustrations over Red Bull's transparency in the Horner investigation is a worrying rift before the partnership starts.

That's not a good look for the longevity of their powertrain deal, and the American giant might decide there's no need for their brand to get dragged through the media mud and pull the plug entirely before getting too deep.

Ford could perhaps align themselves with another outfit, look at entering as a new team in their own right, or decide that F1's tendency to air dirty laundry isn't for them and walk away entirely.

Alpine to Andretti

What a turbulent time the last year has been for Alpine, with a new driver line-up and an endless revolving door of senior personnel.

So much shuffling doesn't suggest the team is in control of its future, so just how long will Renault, and the French taxpayer, continue funding this project?

With Andretti failing to get F1 approval, could the American outfit circumnavigate F1's apprehension of adding a new entry by replacing an outgoing operation instead?

Haas Heroics

Nico Hulkenberg is still looking for his first F1 podium

Bahrain showed there isn't a lot of change in the 2024 running order from 2023, but the similar single-lap pace of the grid means qualifying will see shocks at almost every round.

With Nico Hulkenberg making Q3 at the season opener and the Haas drivers finding their VF-24 car is better on tyres than last year's entry, who knows what a high-performing Q3 might bring?

If Hulkenberg can find the quali pace he had in Canada last year or his 2020 Silverstone cameo, but at a track like Monaco or Singapore, he might finally make that long-awaited podium trip.

Strolling Away

Does Lawrence Stroll want to stay in F1?

Aston Martin's gigantic leap up the order in 2023's first half made it look like the green team might be on course to fulfil Lawrence Stroll's ambitions to be a championship-winning team sooner than later.

The subsequent slip back, however, and the progress of McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes to surpass them again showed that F1 might be the one thing Stroll can't tame.

His son, Lance Stroll, is still in the shadow of Fernando Alonso, too. Perhaps a lack of team progress and Lance's delta to the driver in the other car could appear as an investment for Lawrence to cut loose in 2024.

Spreading the Sprint

F1 Sprint is in for another format change this year as the sport continues overlooking the negative fan reaction from the short-form racing format.

Should the adjustment not prove a disaster and create enough overtakes for some clippable social content, don't be surprised if an announcement comes that Sprint will become more widespread.

We started with three sessions in a season, then six, and then had the addition of Shootout last year.

Half of a season's races losing FP2 and FP3 doesn't seem as unlikely as it once did, does it?

Wolff Walks Away

Toto Wolff has had a tough few months before the 2024 season began

The FIA called the Wolff name into question last year, and although they soon dropped the investigation into Toto and Susie Wolff, that's not something anyone would quickly forget.

That was just an early Christmas 'present' for Toto Wolff, with Hamilton's shock announcement coming as a late one.

Might Wolff look at those surprises, plus another season of Mercedes struggling, see the negative headlines another Team Principal is enduring, and think it's time to walk away? You wouldn't blame him if he did.

READ MORE: Ferrari LEGEND sent Bearman message ahead of F1 debut

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