Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Will F1’s Miami debut live up to the hype? Five talking points for Sunday’s race

2022 Miami Grand Prix

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The fifth race of the 2022 season sees Formula 1 break new ground in the United States with the first ever Miami Grand Prix around Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team.

But with a brand new circuit comes a number of unknowns not just about what kind of racing the track will produce, but how the ten teams will fare around the 5.4 kilometre course.

Here are five talking points heading into the first-ever Miami Grand Prix.

Will Ferrari or Red Bull make the most of Miami?

(L to R): Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Imola, 2022
Leclerc and Verstappen have two wins each
Over the first four rounds of the 2022 season, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have shared two victories apiece to establish themselves as the clear favourites for the world championship.

After close contests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Leclerc held a clear advantage over Verstappen in Australia, before Red Bull turned the tables in Imola by romping to a comfortable victory as a late spin cost Leclerc useful points.

Heading to the Miami International Autodrome – a completely un-raced temporary circuit set around the car park of an NFL stadium – it’s difficult to predict which of the two teams, if either, will have the best package for the new track. With an estimated average lap speed of around 223km/h – almost identical to Imola – Ferrari can expect another tough battle with Red Bull for this weekend. Especially as Mattia Binotto has already said that Ferrari will not bring any “main” upgrades to Florida.

Is Miami the new Monaco?

When it makes its race-hosting debut this weekend, Miami will become the 16th circuit in the 21st century to hold a Formula 1 grand prix for the first time. However, none of them were hyped up before their inaugural race quite as much as Miami has been.

Miami International Autodrome, 2022
The Miami circuit is set around a stadium car park
It’s little surprise given that Miami marks the second race in the USA – a vital market for F1 to succeed in – but Formula 1 is treating this weekend’s grand prix as if it is the most important of the 23 that should take place in 2022. From teams creating their own Miami-themed merchandise to Lewis Hamilton appearing on race broadcast ABC television’s Good Morning America to promote the event, it’s clear the sport is heavily invested in making Miami a success.

But will it capture the imagination of American fans and the worldwide audience like it is hoped, given that the race will be set not around the seaside streets of Miami Beach as originally hoped but instead around the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium?

Miami International Autodrome, 2021
Miami has 19 corners but many will be taken flat out
There is considerable set dressing planned to give the circuit an ‘authentic’ Miami feeling, with the artificial ‘marina’ inside of the turns six, seven and eight hairpin. Some fans have been vocal in their complaints over how expensive tickets are, with a general admission pass costing $300 – just for Friday alone.

Then there are nearby Miami Gardens residents – overwhelmingly made up of African American and Latin American backgrounds – whose complaints about the impact of the race on their community without seeing any benefits have seemingly fallen on deaf ears, putting the race at odds with F1’s ‘We Race As One’ inclusion drive of recent seasons.

But even if the Miami Grand Prix proves a success, there is also the nagging sense that its thunder has already been stolen by the announcement of next year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, which may well prove to receive a level of hype a magnitude beyond that which Miami has already received.

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Can Sainz turn his season around?

Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Imola, 2022
Sainz has completed one lap in the last two grands prix
With the battle over the two championships available for 2022 increasingly looking like they will be fought between Red Bull and Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Jnr’s failure to finish for two consecutive Sundays has been a painful early blow to his own title aspirations.

After spinning off in Australia and being caught out in a turn one collision with Daniel Ricciardo, Sainz now sits 21 points behind Verstappen and 48 adrift of team mate Leclerc in the championship, still searching for his maiden pole position and race victory of his F1 career.

While his future with the Scuderia is secured with a two year extension with Ferrari announced at Imola, Sainz is growing increasingly at risk of falling so far behind his team mate that Ferrari may be tempted to prioritise Leclerc for what will likely be a gruelling season-long fight against Verstappen and Red Bull for the championship.

What happens at Miami will not determine the destination of the championship or Sainz’s fate within it, but it could go a long way towards either his own championship challenge getting back on track, or his status as number two within Ferrari for this season becoming more likely.

Will Mercedes upgrades bring relief to Russell and Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2022
Mercedes may have their first upgrades this weekend
Sitting third in the constructors’ championship after two podiums from the first four rounds would constitute a pretty solid start to a season for most F1 teams and a truly exceptional one for some. However, 2022 has marked Mercedes’ worst start to a season since 2013 – the final year before the introduction of the V6 turbo formula.

Mercedes have made no excuses for the clear deficit between them and their rivals out front, with Toto Wolff describing the team’s own car as “un-driveable” after Imola, due to the excessive porpoising down the straights, which George Russell said was the most severe he had faced all season. Hamilton struggled to overcome the car’s difficulties, leading to his worst weekend of results for over a decade.

Thankfully, there could finally be some respite for the pair this weekend. Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin said after Imola in a post-weekend YouTube video that the team would bring upgrades to the W13 “hopefully soon – maybe as soon as Miami.”

Shovlin admitted that any upgrades would not solve their performance problems overnight, but anything that can help make their car more predictable and allow their drivers to extract more out of their car will go a long way to help.

Is Perez close to securing his Red Bull future?

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Imola, 2022
Two second places in a row for Perez
After four races in 2022, Sergio Perez sits only five points behind team mate Verstappen in the drivers’ championship and third overall, despite scoring zero points in the opening race in Bahrain following a mechanical failure.

While Verstappen has been the faster of pair across the majority of race weekends so far, Perez has backed up his pre-season claims that he would be closer to Verstappen in these new 2022 cars than in 2021 by regularly running one place behind his team mate in races, allowing him to inherit second in Australia when Verstappen’s fuel system failure sent him out of the race and taking a one-two for Red Bull in Imola.

Perez is now providing exactly what Red Bull spent so long searching for after the departure of Daniel Ricciardo: a reliable partner to Verstappen who will back up his team mate out front and be capable of taking poles and victories of his own when the opportunity presents itself. With the long term futures of Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz secured, only Perez’s seat remains unconfirmed for 2023 and beyond among the current top two teams.

If Perez maintains his solid run of form in Miami – and especially if Sainz’s woes continue – then he will be making a strong case for Red Bull to lock him as Verstappen’s team mate for the years to come.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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48 comments on “Will F1’s Miami debut live up to the hype? Five talking points for Sunday’s race”

  1. Then there are nearby Miami Gardens residents – overwhelmingly made up of African American and Latin American backgrounds – whose complaints about the impact of the race on their community without seeing any benefits have seemingly fallen on deaf ears, putting the race at odds with F1’s ‘We Race As One’ inclusion drive of recent seasons.

    So if the local residents were all “white” it would be different?

    Noise complaints were dismissed because they were simply hollow complaining without basis in fact, not because of a lack of racial inclusion or equality.

    Rather amusing really, as an excited football crowd is substantially louder than current F1.

    1. I don’t know what Formula 1 is supposed to do about this. Think how many people around the world you would have to give monetary compensation to if the complaint of ‘the F1 is too noisy’ was upheld.

    2. @S Not to mention, V6 turbo hybrids don’t even require earplugs on the trackside, so noise should be a non-issue for residents around the track area.

    3. Noise complaints were dismissed because they were simply hollow complaining without basis in fact, not because of a lack of racial inclusion or equality.

      Though this might well be true, I can’t find anything in this article pointing towards the complaints being specifically noise related.
      It’s easy to see how a long period of construction and an event with road closures and large amounts of fans coming in for three days in a row can affect a neighbourhood. Combined with most money probably being spent at the venue, rather than in stalls around the circuit and the high ticket prices mentioned in the paragraph before it seems fair to mention that the people living in the vicinity of the circuit are from statistically poor ethnic backgrounds (for well documented historical reasons). Therefore it’s unlikely that the people most affected by the event are able to see the race or even profit from it.

      I don’t know how (or even if) F1 deals with this on other circuits located in poor neighbourhoods (Sao Paulo, for instance). I know that the residents of Zandvoort were offered a tour of the circuit and its facilities on Thursday before the race, it’s probably up to the local promotor, rather than F1?

      1. Sorry Ruben, I was writing my comment as you wrote a much better worded version of the same thing!

        1. Happens to me all the time :) Fair point to add is (as you’ve mentioned) that the money spent on the circuit could’ve been invested in the same neighbourhood in a different way too, though I don’t know where the funds for the race came from and if those could have been relocated in the first place.

      2. They can gentrify the area around the track so the demographic in the area is similar to the demographic attending the race.

        Not that that changes anything, Zandvoort has been in a century long battle with the local NIMBYs.

    4. I imagine it’s referring to the money spent in the area providing infrastructure for the race which could have been spent on social causes to benefit the community rather than noise pollution. Or even just the disruption caused by the F1 circus descending on Miami which might not bring many economic benefits for those neighbourhoods.

      1. Zero public money has been spent on the race. Zero. This stadium routinely hosts multi day events with similar sized crowds. Most being concerts which have an even higher noise level. How about instead of complaining, the residents of Miami Gardens and their astute business leaders should have been investing capital by seeking investments to build attractive venues such as restaurants and hotels to share in the benefit of the events? Wrong. They sit on the sidelines paralyzed praying that the “government” will provide thus ceding the business to Miami Beach and Miami. It’s a joke.

    5. It’s not just about the noise, They apparently prioritised that mainly as a last ditch effort to get the race called off.

      There was a good deep dive article into the issues the local residents have posted in a round up not long ago. It’s apparently not just about the GP, They have issues with the venue as a whole & have done since it was built as they feel it was built there because (Like with the F1 race) the more affluent downtown Miami residents rejected it so it was shoved into a community who didn’t want it but had no say because they had no say.

      They don’t feel it has ever been a benefit to the local communities as they never see any of the profits from the venue & most of those who attend the various events are encouraged to goto the more affluent areas of Miami rather than spend money in local shops, hotels etc.

      It’s a community who feels it constantly gets the short end of the stick because they have no voice as there complaints/concerns are never listened to. They are constantly having to put up with the noise, disruption & clean-up from events without been able to be a part of the actual events.

      They bring race into it because the affluent mainly white areas in the main parts of downtown Miami are always able to veto events like F1 & the building of the stadium to begin with. And when that happens they always get shoved onto the poorer mainly black/latino communities who again have no say in the matter because they have no power as they are never listened to. They don’t want these events or venues build anymore than those in downtown Miami do but they don’t have a voice that is listened to in the same way as the downtown Miami residents do.

    6. Track limits! all racing is done within the white lines. To broaden inclusivity that has to change!

  2. I really hope the usual, with only COTA as an exception, overhyped and very poor F1 races in the US is not the case here.

    It’s a shame that they’ve decided to do this in a car park, as there are so many great tracks in the US… Admittedly, they’d need a lot of work to meet F1 standards, but I see elevation changes as key to a visually exciting track and a carpark doesn’t have that.

    1. I have seen the carpark but the track is laid over that. True it’s flat but it’s not Monaco. We will see how things are going.

    2. @sham COTA has generally produced decent racing, though.
      However, I hope Miami GP can also provide at least decent racing.
      I agree that an already-existing circuit would’ve been a better choice, like Indy, which holds the necessary FIA Grade.
      Unfortunately, an Indy return is doubtful since it got overlooked for both Miami & LV.

    3. It’s not “in a carpark”. Have you been ignoring all the articles showing the track layout?

  3. Probably another close battle between Ferrari & RBR.
    Difficult to predict which one might fare better.

    No, & if any location would surpass Monaco in the glamour, that’s indeed LV.

    I reckon the next five races will be crucial for Sainz’s championship hopes, i.e., if the points gap keeps on growing over the next five, #2 status would effectively become his faith for the remaining season.

    Upgrades might help the porpoising issue, but doubtful they’d suddenly start re-competing for wins.

    Keeping Perez would be justified solely based on performance, albeit unideal for AT drivers & RB’s program drivers in F2, but most critically, Gasly.
    However, keeping him is their right if they want & see zero reasons to change for its sake.

    1. I reckon the next five races will be crucial for Sainz’s championship hopes, i.e., if the points gap keeps on growing over the next five, #2 status would effectively become his faith for the remaining season.

      You’re being far too generous with the 5 race limit. I think Sainz has already proved that he cannot fight for a championship. If he doesn’t beat Leclerc on merit (not luck) in the next 3 races, I think he should himself relinquish to the support driver role. Ferrari still only has an outside shot of staying in the championship, given how strong Red Bull is at in season development. If they want to win, Leclerc is their driver to do it, and Sainz shouldn’t take a single point off him if they want to stand a chance.

      1. @todfod Yeah I don’t disagree, and imagine if Max hadn’t had his reliably woes, where that would already have Sainz’s standing wrt Leclerc and their need to not take points away from CL. Of course I try to resist that kind of selective substitution of events that have already occurred as one could also say imagine if Sainz hadn’t had his bad string of events, although some were of his doing whereas Max’s were not.

        The current reality is Sainz is as you point out very close to needing to be the second to CL’s top position on the team, particularly while Max poses such a threat for points hauls.

  4. Another website is claiming that Miami could kill Monaco. I can’t say I am excited by the prospect of F1 losing its history or racing around a carpark.

    Painting off track areas in fancy colours doesn’t work – ask Paul Riccard about that – and sticking a few palm trees in pots wont do anything to stop this being as miserable as Valencia. Sochi raced around an Olympic venue and was dull, Miami has a frankly pathetic and kitsch fake harbour and beach………God help us!

    1. Given the choice between a car park and Monaco’s mouse maze, I think I’d take the car park.
      At least you could have a cracking gymkhana, and you can always change the layout if you don’t like it. It can be different every time.

  5. Can’t be long before we have a Disney Land track, with Mickey Mouse waving the chequered flag… know its coming!

    1. I guess it would get kids interested in F1.

      The pit crew could dress as Goofy, Pluto etc. The large rubber feet would make pit-stops more challenging and also help protect against injury in the event of a dropped tyre.

      1. @sonnycrockett maybe the race director could wear all-blue and grant a team a wish just like that genie from Aladdin.

        1. @gardenfella72

          I think Michael Masi already did that in Abu Dhabi last year! 😉

      2. Will you be bringing the Daytona or the Testarossa to the event? And I assume it will be the standard linen suit over coral tshirt.

    2. You’d still watch it though, wouldn’t you, @machinesteve

    3. “Disney World” …
      How loud is the “Hard Rock” @ 0100 hours?!
      “Stand Your Ground”

    4. Guv’nor DeSantis is going to expropriate Disney for a lack of counterrevolutionary consciousness so it may be available.

    5. RandomMallard
      3rd May 2022, 16:17

      @machinesteve The Indy Racing League beat F1 to that by 26 years and counting!

  6. The problem for Monaco is it is neither a real race nor a good show. A procession around a track waiting for someone to make a mistake often in the pits and sometimes on track with TV cameras showing the usual ads as the cars pass.

    Monaco pays virtually nothing in fees to hold the race because of its legacy accolade.

    I can’t say I would miss Monaco as a race. Boring.

    On the other hand too many razzmatazz venues in the USA at the expense of heritage tracks is not a happy thought. We need Germany back for example. Turkey too. Let us race not engage in promotional activity for huge corporations.

  7. You just know with the boringly long straights and long DRS zones that they only ‘racing’ we are going to get is going to be push of a button highway passing because thats what these modern circuits are designed to produce now.

    None of these boringly long straight multileg super long DRS zone modern venues are built for racing, They are built for DRS passing to pad the stats to use to make them seem more exciting than they actually were. And then when you look back on them after the fact you don’t remember a thing because all the boringly easy devoid of excitement highway passing blends together and is totally forgettable.

    Such a shame that we have these boring very similar feeling modern car park venues pushed onto the calendar when we have so many truly great & historic circuits that we could be racing at instead. And they wouldn’t need to build fake infrastructure to make the surroundings look more interesting. And also to have circuits like this when Spa is apparently under threat. Just not good.

    1. They need to at least move the activation line further down the road so it gets you alongside for the corner. Not passing halfway down the straight.

  8. This will make the Valencia street circuit look like an absolute classic.

  9. $300 for general admission on just one day, the Friday…. Wow that is absolutely ludicrous. Insanity. How on Earth can they defend that? They might sell out but how many of the new fans F1 has gained will be completely turned away when they see pricing like that as the norm? Given just how many people you can get into the average race track it should be something like $50 for one day general admission, at most.

    1. Completely sold out with a massive waitlist and thriving resale market. All events in Miami are expensive. It’s the norm and always has been. The economics of the are area (South Florida) quite different than most on this site seem to comprehend. It’s far and away the most affluent place on the planet.

      1. It’s not sold out, you can still get many tickets for the main straight and turn one, albeit starting at £1700! No thanks, pure greed from the organisers.

      2. @spencer Florida doesn’t even make the top ten of the most affluent states in the US, and no city in Florida is in the top 25 richest cities in the US. To call it the most affluent place on the planet is a joke. Maybe you have been getting your information from their resident “certified genius” Donald Trump. I have spent a few weeks between Palm Beach and Key West, and although there are plenty of McMansions, it is not generally a wealthy place. I suggest a trip to Manhattan or London or even Moscow if you want to understand what wealthy places are actually like.

  10. I don’t even understand the talk about a parking lot race with a fake painted water marina replacing Monaco. Even if you hate the monaco gp as a car race the comparison is a farce.

    1. You’re right. The parking lot has a lot more going for it.
      Pays more, too.

      1. And by the same token, any other track could replace Monaco, in the sense that the Monaco track is trash but it brings unrivaled glamor. This Miami exurb has no more glitz than Paul Ricard. Long Beach would be a better swap, if F1 could get there.

  11. Mark in Florida
    3rd May 2022, 16:30

    Last that I looked tickets were available for 1800.00 US dollars. Resellers are driving up the prices, it’s just not worth going at those prices and I live in Florida. The fake marina is tacky at best. I don’t know why they thought it would add anything to the atmosphere of the race. I do think there will be some surprises in the race though. Somebody is going to get a good setup and make some of points.

  12. Up until a few minutes ago I’ve been shaking my head at all the fuss about a fake marina with fake water. Then I actually looked at some photos. Who the heck is the bright spark that came up with that idea, and who are the geniuses who thought it was clever and decided to green-light it? A faux mini marina totally encircled by a race track which itself is laid out inside the giant parking lot expanse of a football stadium? As a whimsical piece of art, maybe it would have been more appropriate to dress up some department store dummies and stage a fake football game. Sorry Will Buxton, F1 and Liberty totally dropped the ball on this one. Absolutely cringeworthy!

    1. We’ll see if this fake is as good as the fake the Arabs do.

      1. The arabs at least had the good sense to construct an entire island for the Abu Dhabi circuit. No need to fake that marina.

    2. I’ve been thinking about this marina, and I think that this is not oriented toward RaceFans or people who follow a sport that crisscrosses the globe and is thematically anchored in historical venues in Europe. I hate it. But this is for people who go to Vegas and are amazed at the fake-everything in the middle of nowhere aesthetic–fake Eiffel Tower, fake Pyramid of Ghiza, fake Statue of Liberty, etc.

  13. Joe Cointreau
    3rd May 2022, 17:14

    I hope you folks who are going, have a good time. You are about to discover why the cool people don’t go to Miami in May.

    I am looking forward to enjoying the race from my living room.

  14. I guess they’re not racing by the waterfront? Instead having it in a parking lot? Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix 40 years on. Liberty making Bernie look good.

  15. I’m not especially in favour of the location but I guess we need to give it a chance. Races in similar type venues have generally been disappointing though. It’s never going to be a substitute for some the places no longer on the calendar.

    I really don’t see the comparison with Monaco except in the minds of Liberty or the F1 marketing people. This circuit has little in common with Monaco. The main problem there is that the cars have become too big and unwieldy for the very tight circuit. I hope Monaco stays on the calendar by the way.

    I also don’t see that the U.S. needs yet another race in Las Vegas. This is likely to end up in a circuit layout with quite similar restrictions, although I guess there might be a little more room. I think, taking into account Miami, four races in North America/Mexico is enough.

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