How the Miami GP will and won’t change when F1 returns for its second race

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Liberty Media can hardly be accused of underplaying the addition of a third American round of the world championship to the Formula 1 calendar for 2023. The buzz around the Las Vegas Grand Prix is huge and the race is still eight months away.

Long before then, F1 will return to Miami for the second edition of Liberty’s other major new event on the schedule. While the inaugural race around the Hard Rock Stadium last year was an undoubted hit, there were also clear areas for improvement.

The promoters went all-out to offer the full Miami experience to a crowd of 80,000 fans. The event had a beach club in the middle of the track complete with a much-mocked ‘fake marina’, gondolas were built for fans and VIPs to get a birds-eye view of the action and some of Miami’s top restaurants set up camp by a nightclub at turn one.

But, for some, the Miami’s first grand prix fell short of the five-star experience the promoters intended to offer. Attendees complained of traffic congestion in and out of the track and sub-standard organisation once inside the circuit’s grounds.

Epp (second from right) attended the Bahrain Grand Prix last week
The Paddock Club was the big talking point after the race with reports the high-end experience left much to be desired. F1 top-level package comes with a hefty price tag, but after reportedly running out of food and drink over the weekend there were rumours many clients demanded refunds. Other attendees reported difficulty finding water supplies as temperatures reached 32C, and difficulty navigating their way around the Miami International Autodrome, situated in the car park of the local NFL team’s stadium grounds.

With among the dearest ticket prices on the F1 calendar last season, the promotors knew improvements were needed to keep fans coming back. Tyler Epp, president of the Miami Grand Prix, said a lot has been evaluated over the last ten months.

“One thing I’ve learned has been that every first-year event has challenges and I think we certainly had them,” Epp began in an exclusive interview for RaceFans. “But I would tell you that we still view the first year as a very good success for us.

“We think about it in terms of stakeholders and who the people are that are most important to us and making sure that we’re delivering the experience that either they’re paying for – or a team or F1. Whoever it is, it needs to be able to operate and put on the event.

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“There are certain things that we didn’t think from our internal standards worked as much and we’ve addressed them aggressively.”

The Miami GP team has addressed attendees’ complaints
Epp has a varied background working on sporting events in the United States over 20 years, including a stint with the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team and the San Diego Padres MLB squad. He also worked with motorsport teams in NASCAR, IndyCar and the Grand-Am Series.

But despite his experience working in and around sports, Epp admitted F1 was a very different proposition.

“I don’t know what my expectations were. I don’t think we knew what to expect,” he admits. “What we were facing is trying to combine some of the success that we’ve all had with North American sporting events and appreciating the history of Formula 1 and trying to find out where that meshes.”

After some negative comments from some individuals attending last season’s race, fan experience was top of the agenda for Epp and his team for 2023.

“We’ve got to be a little careful how we define the fan experience,” he acknowledges. “We’ve really tried to set the standard for how we want to deliver a grand prix.”

Access to refreshments and heat relief is one area he intends to address. “Especially for some of our GA [general admission] ticketholders, which we call campus pass-holders, we needed more shade and we needed more access to water.

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“It was so hot and I think it was all exacerbated because of that. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have done a better job of it. So we have implemented a whole new plan that includes shade and water for the campus pass and grandstand users.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
The slow, awkward chicane will remain
“The 300 level of Hard Rock Stadium is covered, there is automatic shade there as well as all the restrooms. It also has access to a view of the paddock this year.” The teams’ hospitality bases have been relocated inside the stadium for the 2023 event.

Fans were not the only ones to complain as many drivers bemoaned track conditions over the opening weekend. Fernando Alonso was among them, calling the asphalt “not F1-standard.” Poor grip off the racing line was a particular problem, reducing overtaking opportunities.

On top of that the tight chicane which formed turns 14 and 15 was widely panned, Lewis Hamilton likening it to a “B&Q car park”. That remains in place for this year’s race, but Epp said there are logistical reasons behind that decision.

“We worked with Formula 1, the FIA, and listened to the feedback on the drivers’ council, and we took that very seriously,” he says. “The adjustments that we made to that chicane are directly from the driver’s council, directly through the FIA. There will be a minor change to the rumble strip on the driver’s left going into [turn] 14 and then a very slight change to the apex at turn 15.

“But for the most part, there are no significant changes to that chicane, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. The biggest of which is that we have to work with the state of Florida and there are public roads all around that turn and so our ability to make a big impact there is very, very limited.

“The second reason is just geographically it sits on a small plot of land, so [if] you go a foot this way, a foot that way, you just drop off. So just the functional ability to actually make a significant change to that area is just really limiting.”

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Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
The track surface has been relaid to aid overtaking
Formula 1 sent the Miami Grand Prix promoters a report after the race, which Epp said “largely [had] the same things that we saw that didn’t go well” meaning they weren’t battling on any major points. One thing that was changed, however, was the troublesome track surface.

“We just felt like there was an opportunity to continue to make the surface better,” said Epp. “We’ve got great owners in Stephen Ross and Tom Garfinkel [who] give us the opportunity to continue to focus on the reason we did this in the first place.”

As RaceFans spoke to Epp one week before the Bahrain Grand Prix, circuit designer Hermann Tilke’s team had just completed the resurfacing. “The top layer was taken off and reapplied with a new mix of aggregate, and we expect it to race very well,” Epp explained.

Las Vegas is pulling out all the stops for its new event but Miami, sitting on the opposite end of the calendar with a 10-year race deal already agreed, can feel secure in its position for the time being at least. Still, it’s clear the organisers are not being complacent about the areas for improvement which were apparent last year, and have genuinely listened to both drivers and fans to enhance the 2023 experience.

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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16 comments on “How the Miami GP will and won’t change when F1 returns for its second race”

  1. Temp-wise, not much to do as daytime temps are similarly high all year round.

    1. some racing fan
      12th March 2023, 6:27

      No, they aren’t. With your consistently mindless and ignorant comments about the weather in Miami (a city you have never been to, and I have, multiple times) no one should listen to a word you say about that.

      Miami is cooler and less rainy say, right now than it is in May. This is one of the biggest problems this race faces. They can’t have it late in the year because of the 8 home games the Miami Dolphins NFL team plays there. I just wish they would have it as the first race of the year, in February or early March. I can’t believe it takes 6 weeks for them to set up the circuit.

      1. Only 6 weeks? That’s quite fast! The Adelaide 500 circuit takes 3 months either side of set up and tear down.

        32C isn’t particularly hot, but I guess if you’re not used to it, it might feel so.

        I haven’t been to Miami but have been to the Adelaide 500 on days nearing 40C.

  2. We think about it in terms of stakeholders and who the people are that are most important to us and making sure that we’re delivering the experience that either they’re paying for – or a team or F1.

    Corporate PR speak at the highest level indeed. Well done.

    1. Coventry Climax
      11th March 2023, 19:50

      That is the exact sentence I ‘Ctrl-C-ed’ to use in a comment. Glad I’m not the only one to notice it.
      Just about says it all, doesn’t it?

      1. Yes, this is revenue and entertainment leading over sport. The sports element might disappear altogether in the future.

  3. These 3 US races really focus on the diversity of trashiness in the US. These are 3 of the trashiest places in the world, but all in a very different way.

    1. some racing fan
      12th March 2023, 6:22

      Austin and Miami are not trashy. Las Vegas however…

    2. some racing fan
      12th March 2023, 6:29

      And also- you clearly have never been to Atlantic City in New Jersey. That place is so awful it makes Vegas look like Paris.

  4. This was one of the more boring GP’s of last year. Not looking forward to another race on this parket lot.

    1. I will be going to Miami, have tickets. First time.
      For me a bit concerning that I have not seen much about transportation to the circuit, a shuttle bus system or something. I read about parking, but won’t have a rental car. Hotel five miles from the track. Could walk I guess.

      Will also go to Austin and know from experience that there is an excellent shuttle system for all three days.

      1. Thomas Gosewinkel
        13th March 2023, 4:32

        They have buses to a car park then walk into track . Wasn’t that hard . I couldn’t be bothered waiting so uber it . In saying that enjoy the scenery after the race leave around 2 hours after the race to beat the crowds unless u love queuing

  5. Some fans (amongst which myself) are in for a hard time if Miami is seen as a success. It is a dreadful parking lot and one of the races I will not be watching.

  6. What I don’t get with these track resurfacing is why don’t they do the job sooner if they know it’s an issue and needs doing. So many times they’re resurfacing upto just a couple of weeks away from the race. This time they’ve done it 2 months away which is a little better, but still far from ideal.

    As for this track, I don’t remember much other than the mickey mouse corner that a few drivers had the pleasure of getting up close and personal, the asphalt braking apart and the tacky fake marina. The racing? Hmmm, I vaguely remember Max battling Charles for the win and Checo losing engine power trying to catch Carlos.
    I hope the racing is better for the second year, but I won’t get my hopes up too much.

    1. Probably because it’s not a dedicated circuit and other events are happening so resurfacing needs to be balanced among a busy calendar.

  7. As a very seasoned F1 fan that has attended over 20 F1 races, the two biggest issues/complaints I had while attending last years Miami’s race was the terrible trackside jumbo screens and the podium ceremony not being on the start/finish straight. Having paid a very premium price for start/finish tickets, it was a very anti-climatic experience watching the trophy’s being handed out on a barely visible screen from the other side of the track. It was terrible and unacceptable in my opinion.

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