The checkered flag has fallen at the inaugural Miami GP and it was definitely… a different experience. After announcing that the new circuit would become a permanent fixture on the f1 calendar for the next decade it invited plenty of opinions, with some wanting to give the track a chance and others completely writing off the race before the first practice session had even started. There was clearly a lot if anticipation around this new track with no one knowing what quite to expect.
Well, now that the first Miami GP has officially ended, I can say it did not live up to the hype surrounding it. It became clear after the record-breaking attendance at the Austin GP last year that the appetite for Formula 1 was growing rapidly across the States and so the addition of a new US GP seemed inevitable. Once the new layout of the track was revealed it was quickly criticised as it had been constructed around a car park with the Hard Rock Stadium serving to be the main attraction. It only got worse after seeing the track in person, the fake marinas and extortionate prices only added to the growing trepidation surrounding the upcoming race. It felt artificial almost as though F1 were trying too hard to sell this race as the next big thing, with the amount of build up around this race and the extensive marketing that had been amped up during the week the stage was set and expectations were at an all-time high.
As the countdown to lights out began, what followed was an iconically chaotic grid walk that will go down in history as one of the most memorable, for better or worse well that’s up for debate. Celebrities swarmed down on the on to the grid, walking around seemingly clueless. This made provided us with a cringeworthy half an hour that was almost unbearable to watch as it was painfully obvious that the spectacle of this GP was the main priority, attempting to create an Americanised version of Monaco without the prestige of history that is synonymous with the crown jewel of the F1 calendar.
So, what of the actual race, well that also resembled Monaco for the majority for the race meaning that besides the change in the lead on lap 9 we endured a dull procession that came to an eventual end on lap 41 after the collision between Norris and Gasly. This provided some much-needed excitement to this otherwise lackluster race; it renewed the battle for the lead and also introduced a couple of close battles further down the field. The battle for third between Sainz and Perez was touch and go for the remainder of the race and we briefly got a battle between the Mercedes team mates in which George came out on top, extending his record of finishing in the top 5. The race ended with an unfortunate accident between the two closes drivers on the grid seeing Schumacher hit the side of Vettel, just missing out on the first points finish of his f1 career. In contrast, Albon racked up his second point for Williams after putting in yet another strong performance.
To top off the weekend the race winner, Verstappen, was transported to the podium via a police escort and if that wasn’t enough the top 3 were sporting football helmets whilst making their way to the podium steps just under the Hard Rock Stadium. Given that this track looks as though it will be staying on the calendar for a while it’s fair to say that there is definitely a lot to improve on, this feeling appears to be universal as when asked what he liked about the Miami GP in a post-race interview, Russell’s reply was “the weather”, when a driver states that their favourite thing about a new track was the weather that really tells you all you need to know.
The overly theatrical display of this weekend failed to impress and instead created a forced event that looks as though it has been falsely manufactured to present the illusion of it being better than it actually was. With the glitz and glamour of the event being pushed to the forefront and driver concerns about the track being neglected, this weekend has definitely left a bad taste in the mouth of f1 fans as it looks as though formula 1 is morphing into a new version of WWE. With a lack of authenticity and a clear drive for commercial success consuming the weekend, formula 1 have thrown away the perfect opportunity to prove why Miami was worth all of this hype and has instead left fans wondering why we have to return to this circuit for another 9 years. In order to get people on board for the 2023 Miami GP there will certainly need to be some changes and perhaps next year we’ll be having a different conversation.