In the annals of Formula One history, there will almost certainly be a chapter marked ‘the Liberty era’, in which events like the Miami Grand Prix will be chronicled at length.
Love it or loathe it, the most recent addition to the F1 calendar provided talking points aplenty, arguably not all positive, but certainly making the race weekend the perfect conversation starter.
Teams, drivers, and sponsors went all-in for Miami, turning the event into more of a cultural statement than a sporting fixture. As it transpired, the race itself will be consigned to the footnotes in a weekend where there was more A-list action on the grid than in the Grand Prix.
Cliché and stereotype abounded, as the Miami Grand Prix became an IRL re-enactment of the popular Netflix documentary Drive to Survive (that’s in real life for all you old-school purists, rather than the Indy Racing League). It was no coincidence that seasons four and five of the show were confirmed during the weekend. There was enough US-stylised content in Miami for an entire season of its own.
For the purists, the show itself seemed a step (or several) too far for comfort, while the drivers had their fair share of commentary about the track (B&Q car park with mermaids, anyone?). There were word-of-mouth criticisms too about the quality of the VIP experience, which would be a concern at such a highlight event.
That said, there were plenty of positive comments too. When the F1 circus arrives in Barcelona later in the month, it will be a return to normality, or perhaps reality. Sporting calendars need variety, and they need to appeal to a broad demographic. In that regard, Miami fitted the bill perfectly, but with a Spain-Monaco doubleheader looming, it will be interesting to see whether the excess of a sugar-coated Miami weekend will leave too much of a sour taste for some.
We asked our 15-year-old work experience student, George, to offer his take on a truly unique race weekend.
Hype, Celebrities, Fans: The Miami Grand Prix 2022
The hype for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix was unreal leading up to race day, with numerous A-list celebrities showing up to watch the race. The event was sold out all weekend with over 80,000 fans showing up and over 1 million people watching worldwide. However, I think it is safe to say that the race did not live up to expectations and the hype surrounding it.
The track was built around the home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, the Hard Rock Stadium. It is a street circuit that is 3.36-miles long with 19 corners. The original plan for the track was for it to be next to the harbour in Miami, but the FIA declined their idea, so they came up with the alternative idea to build a fake “harbour” on the inside of one of the hairpins with a few boats that fans could sit in to watch the race.
Max Verstappen won the Grand Prix, from P3 on the grid, while Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished off the podium, making it a Ferrari 2-3. There were many great performers in Miami, for example George Russell who came from P12 on the grid, starting on the hard tyre, to finish fifth, which extended his streak of finishing within the top five at each race of the season so far.
The race seemed to be very well advertised, which played as an advantage to Formula 1, as the crowd were excited for the race and created a good atmosphere across the weekend. Most of the teams and drivers created custom liveries for the cars, including Lando Norris’s basketball-themed helmet, and a new-look for the Mercedes.
Many people across various social media platforms have expressed their varied opinions on the Miami Grand Prix, its track and the overall aura of the weekend. On the racing spectacle, many of these opinions have been negative and mostly directed towards the lack of overtaking and the lack of an exciting action-packed race after there was so much hype around this event.
Hype was the underlying theme of the whole weekend though, for the event and F1 to gain publicity and breach the US market. F1 has already been doing this well through the TV show Drive to Survive and introducing two new races in the US (Las Vegas and Miami).
Whilst it may not have been a ‘normal’ weekend for the fans and most of the teams, it was a routine weekend for Red Bull and Ferrari who blasted away from the rest of the field locking out the top four. A final word for Williams’s driver Alex Albon, who – with his shocking crop of red hair – impressed once again to earn his second point of the year in a Williams.
As a 15-year-old Formula One fan, who has been a fan of the sport for 5 or 6 years, this event was meant to appeal to my age demographic as we are the next generation of F1 fans. However, I just didn’t get the attraction of all the glitz and glam which was meant to draw in us younger fans. Every celebrity that was invited to this event was trying to attract the attention of young viewers and to make the sport more available and interesting for new fans. This may appeal to a lot of my age demographic, but for me, it didn’t quite hit the mark.