Lando Norris, McLaren, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Why some drivers fear they “can’t put on a good show” for expectant Miami crowd

2022 Miami Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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How will the Miami Grand Prix be decided? Could it come down to variation in tyre strategies and the different approaches to downforce levels taken by the leading teams?

Perhaps. But it may also be dictated by a grip-less track surface which will make overtaking unexpectedly difficult plus punishing heat prompting more reliability woes.

The former scenario would surely make for the more enjoyable race. And the top championship contenders are arranged in a way which appears to promise an exciting contest.

Ferrari have swept the front row of the grid, points leader Charles Leclerc ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr. The Red Bulls line up behind them, Max Verstappen followed by Sergio Perez.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Leclerc fears Ferrari are vulnerable on the straights
The racing line is likely to offer a considerable grip advantage so Verstappen will fancy his chances of splitting the Ferrari drivers at the start. But even if he doesn’t he stands a chance of taking the fight to them, for reasons Leclerc pointed out as soon as he got out of his car after claiming the 12th pole position of his career.

Once again Red Bull appear to enjoy superiority in straight line speed over Ferrari. The two long acceleration zones on the Miami International Autodrome therefore look like good hunting opportunities for Verstappen.

There are more unknowns that usual for the strategists due to the unfamiliarity of the track. However Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola suspects some drivers will be pushed towards making extra, second pit stops due to wear on the front-right tyre. This is punished especially by the long left-hander of turns six, seven and eight, where drivers can ill-afford to back off too much, as it would leave them vulnerable down the following, long straight.

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“If this wear on the front right is confirmed, because I’m expecting some other track evolution in this case, it can be a two-stop strategy,” said Isola. “The strategy is dictated by the wear because we have wear both on the soft and the medium. So it’s not that the medium is running a lot longer than soft.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Miami Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
But if the Miami Grand Prix has the ingredients for an absorbing encounter, it also threatens to disappoint. Since their first experience of the track on Friday many drivers have warned the quality of the track surface will not produce good racing. Daniel Ricciardo reiterated that point on Saturday evening.

“I can tell you there won’t be grip off-line,” he said. “You won’t need to wait to see it tomorrow. It’s definitely different.”

Ricciardo is concerned the lack of grip away from the racing line could make the grand prix a follow-my-leader affair. “I’m totally okay with not having the same all 23 places we go, I’m okay with having points of difference to make some circuits unique and have their own character. But in saying that, this isn’t a nice surface to drive on.

“It’s not like ‘oh, it’s challenging’ it’s that you literally have to just stay on that one line, otherwise you’re not really on the track anymore. So instead of making it a good challenge it just makes it a little bit, in a way, one-dimensional because you only have that one option of one line where there is a bit of rubber building up. So I don’t want to lie and say I like the surface.”

His McLaren team mate Lando Norris was no more complimentary.

“On the racing line it’s not bad grip, it’s reasonable-ish. It’s just very hot, which makes it feel even worse,” he said. “The fact is just that off-line it’s just really, really terrible.”

He is concerned the state of the track threatens to disappoint the spectators at the heavily promoted new event.

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“We come to the races and there’s so many fans here and everyone expects such an amazing race so when you come to it and they’re trying something new with the surface and something they’ve not really done before then I think we end up in a position like we are,” he said.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Ricciardo expects very poor grip off-line
“You don’t want every track to be exactly the same, you like differences, you want them to be unique. But when there’s so much expectation you want good racing and you want us to provide good racing and entertainment and then there’s a surface which they’re trying and they just king of wing it, in a way, to see what it’s like, it’s not good enough because then we can’t do what they require in a way, we can’t put on a good show, we can’t race.”

The other factor which may give teams headaches is the effect of the punishing heat over a full race distance, which no one has come anywhere close to reaching over three disrupted practice sessions.

Verstappen battled with overheating problems in Friday’s opening session before missing almost the entire second session with hydraulic problems leading to cooked brakes.

Lewis Hamilton believes the heat could present challenges similar to those that the Malaysian Grand Prix used to present, notoriously one of the more physical races that drivers had to contend with.

“The race is going to be tough,” he said on Friday. “Particularly as the tyres were overheating and it’s very hot out there.

“It’s a track where I think today I’ve already lost a couple of kilos. So over the next couple of days, another two tomorrow and then the race, it’s probably going to be right up there. It reminds of driving – a little bit, not as fast – but Malaysia, KL [Kuala Lumpur] – it’s not far off that. KL’s still number one in terms of the heat, then it’s Singapore and now it’s here.”

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Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Verstappen had more reliability problems in practice
Remarkably, after a disrupted build-up, Saturday’s qualifying session ran incident-free. That was the exception of the weekend so far. Saturday’s W Series race had to be red-flagged due to a not particularly serious single-car crash, which ended up causing a 25-minute disruption.

With a low grip surface, a tight, twisty layout and sweltering heat to contend with and the field surprisingly closely packed together

The Miami Grand Prix may produce surprises, but drivers are clearly concerned it seems unlikely to serve up the kind of drama the promoters envisioned.

Over to you

Will Leclerc extend his championship lead with another win? Might we see our first victory this year for someone besides him and Verstappen?

Share your views on the Miami Grand Prix in the comments.

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2022 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Why some drivers fear they “can’t put on a good show” for expectant Miami crowd”

  1. but this will be a huge success: a lot of VIP, fake marina, fake beach where you can’t even see cars because you’re at the same level of track but with a barrier. Who cares about asphalt? who cares about safety? who cares about racing? A stupid track, useless, with an asphalt ridiculous and a section typical of Indycar just for create crashes. F1 is much better and not deserve places like US

    1. 100% agree.

    2. God that TV coverage was awful so far, with strange camera angles, zooming in and out to make me feel dizzy… I can’t get any feel for this track as a viewer, any sense or how it is to drive there; they break any immersion and flow for me. Maybe that’s what they’re used to in US series, but this whole weekend seem so weird to me. I won’t comment on those Kitsch elements like fake yachts, that’s some attempt to humiliate the adults who rent them. I don’t care about “the spectacle”, I’m just trying to enjoy the thing this is all really (or is it?) about – racing. But who cares, they can afford to irritate me, I know. It’s just a sad feeling watching this cheap Disney World parody (with poorer asphalt, not that it’s important element of a race venue). I sound overly negative, but I don’t see how this compares well to Imola, SPA, Monza or Suzuka for example.

  2. They are not there to “put on a good show”. They are there to race.

    Leave the “Show” to the desperately attention seeking Celebs that have been bused in and the embarrassingly tacky guff like the fake marina and beach.

    As f1andrea says above – this will be a huge success simply because the promoters will make money.
    That’s what what matters to them.
    That is why they bought F1, to make money.
    Not because they care about F1.

  3. They probably won’t put on a good show – but it won’t be because of the track surface.
    It’ll be because it is F1.

    1. Why do you watch F1 if you think that just being F1 means that the race will be rubbish?

      1. I wish I had a good answer to that question, @f1frog.
        I guess I’m no better than all the other old farts around here who just stink the place up with negativity and complaints, eh?

        Or maybe I have a reasonable technical understanding of why F1 doesn’t put on good races often enough or consistently – and as I said above, it isn’t the tarmac.

  4. +1
    They are not there to “put on a good show”. They are there to race.
    The rest is a bit of a Catch22 “Milo Minderbinderism”. 😡What’s good for …ah to Heller with it 🤬(@nullapax)

    1. Was supposed to be reply to nullapax

  5. The Americans are us to processional racing, cars running in a train. They wont think any less of F1, or their circuit for not over-taking.

    1. Not sure which American racing you’ve been watching. ‘Processional’ is a European feature.

      Would be great to see a double-header here with Indycar. Those cars can race well pretty much anywhere.
      Neither series wants that, of course. Indycar looks slow and F1 looks boring when compared directly.

      1. I never saw much ‘overtaking’ in Indy, except maybe with oval racing, but that’s just something… different. “Normal” races are won with strategy, pit stops etc., like it used to be in F1 20 years ago. I don’t consider the quantity of overtaking as any measurement of quality of racing though. Good racing drivers do overtakes, right? Well, good drivers also defend from those. It’s hard to explain a good race with those basic numbers. I mean, I make maybe 20 overtakes on my way back home from work, but no one would pay to watch me overtake a bus. 90% of overtakes have been equally exciting and as much of a fight.

  6. Will Leclerc extend his championship lead with another win? – Yes.
    Might we see our first victory this year for someone besides him and Verstappen? – Possible in some scenarios.
    Off-line grip scarcity indeed has been an issue over the event & this could well hamper everyone starting on even-numbered grid positions, i.e., pit wall side.

    1. Miami’s/FL’s climate is also Subtropical like Southeast Asia, so unsurprising.

  7. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    8th May 2022, 17:08

    A boring race on Sunday is still way better than working on Monday.

  8. For me, the track is ok and I even kind of like the chicane (it poses a different challenge). But watching the fake marina and the fake beach from above, I just couldn’t help thinking that video games are getting more realistic and real tracks more like videogames. At least people move around, but textures are just reasonable.

Comments are closed.