One of the highlights of the annual motorsport calendar is upon us, as the great and good of Formula 1, sportscar racing, rallying and more descends on West Sussex for a four-day celebration of the cars and stars that make racing special.

As ever, the Goodwood Festival of Speed will be a spectacle not to be missed. Here's what to look out for at this year's event.

1. Horseless to hybrid; pioneers to the present

1999 BMW V12 LMR at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022
JEP / Motorsport Images

The Le Mans-winning BMW V12 LMR of 1999 will make a welcome return

The pursuit of performance over 130 years of motorsport provides a vast canvas upon which the Duke of Richmond & Gordon’s team has painted toothsome portraits across five epochs to the present. The contrasts in each window are staggering.

Pioneers of Propulsion features an 1893 Salvesen Steam Wagonette presaging such pacy delights as Darracq 200 bhp and Fiat S76 ‘Beast of Turin’, Sunbeam 350 bhp, Bugatti T35, Alfa Romeo P3 and Napier-Railton and Auto Unions. Don’t miss the wacky French Leyat Helica.    

Progression of Power focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, spanning BRM V16, Maserati 250F, shark-nose Ferrari 156s, Honda RA272 (driven by RB F1’s Yuki Tsunoda), Lotus-Cosworth 49 and whistling gas turbine Howmet TX sportscar and Lotus 56B, the latter with marque founder Colin Chapman’s son Clive and grandson Magnus up.

Evolution of Revolution showcases Lancia Stratos, Le Mans-winning Matra-Simca 670C, Porsche 936/77 and Alpine-Renault A442B, plus F1 Renault RS10 and Audi Quattro rally cars as the sizzling turbo era advanced. Innovation Unleashed stars McLaren F1 GTR, Audi R8C, BMW V12 LMR and Ferrari 333 SP Le Mans icons, while the Future of Speed showcases the 2022 hill-record-shattering McMurtry Speirling, manufacturer specials and the driverless Indy Autonomous Challenge.  

2. Verstappen tops roster of sporting superstars 

Max Verstappen at British GP 2024
Red Bull Content Pool

Reigning F1 world champion Verstappen will be reunited with the RB16B in which he won his first title in 2021

World champions have coloured the Festival’s history since 1993. But to have the reigning Formula 1 title holder in attendance – in this case triple champion Max Verstappen – is unprecedented. Currently third in the all-time rankings with 61 GP victories, the 2024 points leader will wow onlookers on Sunday in a 2021 Red Bull Racing-Honda RB16B.

Superstars pepper the entry as ever. NASCAR legend Richard Petty, with 200 stock car wins on his slate, left a huge impression in 2004. At 87 ‘The King’ is back with son Kyle and the bewinged 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

Emerson Fittipaldi, 77, is the earliest F1 world champion in action. Fifty years after he secured his second crown in three years, ‘Emmo’ is reunited with his 1974 Brazilian and Belgian GP-winning McLaren M23-5. Fellow champs Damon Hill and Kimi Raikkonen line up too.

Double world endurance champion and six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx, 79, represents the sportscar speciality, piloting a Porsche 936/77. Swedish rallymeister Stig Blomqvist, 77, commemorates the 40th anniversary of his 1984 WRC victory in an Audi Quattro, and flying Finn Kalle Rovanpera, 23 – champion of 2022-23, fresh from winning Rally Poland from the subs’ bench – exercises a Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing.

3. Red Bull 20 reunites alumni for RB17 launch

Christian Klien and David Coulthard at Turkish GP 2005 in RB1
Mark Capilitan

Original Red Bull drivers from 2005 Klien and Coulthard will be on hand to mark the team's 20 years in F1

That Red Bull Racing has been in F1 for almost 20 years – snaring seven drivers’ world championships, through Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, and six constructors’ titles – is an extraordinary record for the team that debuted in 2005.

Almost as telling is that the Austrian-founded energy drink offshoot’s equipe is the ninth longest-serving in F1 history, having surpassed BRM, which spanned three decades, and with Minardi’s and Ligier’s totals set to be swallowed next season.

To celebrate its 20th term in F1, Oracle Red Bull Racing has corralled 18 cars spanning the RB1 of 2005 to last year’s RB19 for inspection in the Cathedral Paddock, showcasing Cosworth, Ferrari, Renault and Honda powerplants.

Seven are set to hit the hill, with Christian Klien (RB1), Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo, team chief Christian Horner and David Coulthard in Vettel-era RB6-9 of 2010-13, and current team-mates Verstappen and Sergio Perez in RB16B and RB19 of 2021 and 2022 respectively.

On Friday the wraps will come off design guru Adrian Newey’s two-seat RB17 Hypercar. Powered by a hybrid engine developing more than 1100 bhp, a run of only 50 of these technical tours de force will be made by Red Bull Advanced Technologies.

4. Wattie leads Niki Lauda tribute

Niki Lauda and John Watson at Swedish GP 1978
Ercole Colombo

At the at Swedish GP 1978, Watson (left) raced alongside Niki Lauda at Brabham and latterly at McLaren

Technically gifted and versatile, three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda’s career is showcased in a colourful tribute led by Brabham and McLaren team-mate John Watson. BRM’s sleek P160 and P180 and the lumpen March 721X masked the Austrian’s potential initially, but stellar subsequent stints with Ferrari, Brabham and ultimately McLaren bore bountiful fruit.

Wattie drives Niki’s 1978 Swedish GP-winning Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT46B ‘fan car’ for period team owner and F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone. Sonorous Ford Cologne Capri RS3100 and BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ provide contrasting V6 and straight-six soundtracks.

5. WRC legends attack forest stage

Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023
Gary Hawkins

Current WRC aces including Rovanpera and Neuville will tackle the forest rally stage

Double world rally champion Kalle Rovanpera (2024 Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) and five-time runner-up Thierry Neuville (2021 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) in the house will delight fans on the Forest Rally Stage originated by Hannu Mikkola. Neuville scored his 20th WRC win in Monte Carlo this year and will star in the contemporary class. A sensational range of machinery from Alpine A110 through Group B legends – Audi Quattro, Ford RS200 Evo, Lancia 037 and Delta S4, MG Metro 6R4, Peugeot 205 T16s and Porsche 911 – to Subarus, Mitsubishi, Ford Escort RS Cosworth and Focuses make it a must-see.   

6. Sorcerers and apprentices showcase F1 teams

McLaren-Honda MP4-4 from 1988 at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023
James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Bruno Senna will drive the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 in which his uncle Ayrton won his first world title in 1988

Formula 1 up the garden path has long been an FoS fan favourite, and the team personnel enjoy putting on a show too, often giving their development programme’s young guns a weekend to remember. 

Alongside Red Bull, McLaren and Williams are strongly represented. Half a century on from his world championship with the Woking team, Emerson Fittipaldi (M23-5) will be joined by Bruno Senna in a magnificently svelte Honda-powered MP4/4, in which uncle Ayrton won the first of his three titles in 1988.

Current Williams racers Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant sample Cosworth DFV-engined FW08-2, a sister to Keke Rosberg’s 1982 turbo hordes-vanquishing championship winners. Teenaged American F1 Academy racer Lia Block and team principal James Vowles will share it.

Rising star Ollie Bearman, 19, who finished seventh in March’s Saudi Arabian GP for Ferrari as substitute for Carlos Sainz to become the youngest Briton to score F1 world championship points, is to saddle the Prancing Horse’s 2017 SF70H with FoS veteran Marc Gene.

Alpine is also supporting the event with Australian protege Jack Doohan and Germany’s Sophia Florsch taking turns in a 2012 E20. Dane Frederik Vesti drives a 2021 Mercedes in the marque’s set.

7. Sunday shootout to crown king of the hill 

Travis Pastrana Hoonigan Subaru GL Wagon at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023
James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Pastrana will be out to thrill in his Subaru GL Wagon during Sunday's timed shootout

Speed hillclimbs traditionally climax with a run-off to determine which car-and-driver combo can ascend the course quickest against the clock. As a made-for-TV spectacle, Goodwood’s FoS offering has morphed from a pure racing car contest to become a showcase for technology on the 1.1-mile course.

The writing was on the wall for Nick Heidfeld’s outright record of 41.60s, set in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 in 1999, when Frenchman Romain Dumas piloted Volkwagen’s electric I.D. R to 43.86s in 2018 and 42.32s in 2019. When Max Chilton unleashed a 39.08s in an electric McMurtry Speirling prototype in 2023, spectators could barely believe what they had witnessed.

This year’s combatants range from Mark Walker’s 1905 Darracq 200HP Land Speed Record car to the F5000 Eagle-Chevrolet FA74 of Michael Lyons and Joe Twyman’s F1 March 741. BTCC leader Jake Hill (Nissan Skyline GT-R R32) and Le Mans winner Andy Wallace (Bugatti Bolide) will excel.

But watch for the 862 bhp Subaru GL Family Wagon Huckster and WRX Airslayer of Travis Pastrana and Scott Speed, the Bridan twins’ sensational Porsche-based Oilstainlab Half11 and the Alpine A110 Pikes Peak to provide the spectacle.

8. Mercedes’ 130 years in racing

Sauber-Mercedes C9 at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023

The rumbling Sauber-Mercedes C9 of Group C vintage is usually a crowd-pleaser at Goodwood

Since the dawn of motor racing in the 1890s to Lewis Hamilton’s British GP victory last weekend, Mercedes has been at the forefront of competition. Its 130-year odyssey is celebrated at Goodwood by a pageant bookended by a 1907 GP car to the current AMG GT3 racers.

Karl Wendlinger drives a 100-year-old Mercedes-Benz Targa Florio, and examples of the W25, W125, W196 and W196 streamliner hark back to the Silver Arrows. Kenneth Acheson pilots his own 1989 Sauber C9 and Nic Minassian a Sauber C11 alongside David Clark’s C-Class DTM car and Frederik Vesti in a 2021 Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance. 

9. Seventy-five years of grand prix motorcycling

Casey Stoner at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023

Fans of two-wheeled motorsport will be treated to the sight of past legends including two-time MotoGP champion Stoner in action

Motorcycle racing has been part of the FoS since its debut in 1993. When Valentino Rossi embraced the 2015 event, the Italian megastar’s following was of almost papal magnitude.

The late seven-time world GP champion John Surtees (1934-2017) was an inspirational godfather to the two-wheeled aces who attended Goodwood events, and they continue to entertain appreciative sell-out audiences as the event celebrates a landmark anniversary.

The inimitable 15-time champion Giacomo Agostini, who at 82 turns back the years every time he straddles an MV Agusta, heads this year’s crop. The Italian is joined by Americans Randy Mamola, Kenny Roberts (Senior and Junior) and ‘Fast Freddie’ Spencer, Australians Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner, and Belgium’s Didier de Radigues.

Home-grown heroes Davey Todd (fresh from his maiden Isle of Man TT victory), Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman (who both added to their gold tallies last month), John McGuinness, Jeremy McWilliams, Mick Grant and Steve Parrish guarantee fireworks. Watch too for sidecar world champions Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement, who won legions of fans in winning April’s awesome Goodwood Members’ Meeting shootout.

10. Joest and Shadow family reunions

FAT Turbo Express Joest IMSA Porsche 962 at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023
James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Joest's remarkable history at Le Mans will be among the numerous celebrations

Reinhold Joest’s team’s fabulous Le Mans history is traced from the 935J of 1980 through Group C 956 and 962 to WSC-95, then to Audis, bisected by a Bentley Speed 8. Le Mans winners Stefan Johansson, Dindo Capello, Emanuele Pirro, Benoit Treluyer and David Brabham are among the celebrants.

Building on the superb gathering of Don Nichols’s Shadow Can-Am cars corralled by super-collector Jim Bartel and Era Motorsport’s Kyle Tilley at April’s Members’ Meeting, the monsters are back, joined by F1 stablemates. Hans-Joachim Stuck reunites with a 1978 DN9 in a set spanning Tony Southgate’s DN1 stunner to a DN11.

Jackie Oliver, Shadow DN4 at Goodwood Members Meeting 2024
Jeff Bloxham / Motorsport Images

After causing a stir at the Goodwood Members' Meeting, Shadow's DN4 will be out in force again at the FOS