F1 Miami Grand Prix: Seamlessly Chic Merging of Form & Function
NASCAR Move Over - F1 just came to town & owned it
With more than 2 million ABC and ESPN viewers watching F1’s Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, May 8, hometown hero NASCAR must be feeling the heat in the squirmy, uncomfortable way that only the new kid on the block - aka the competition — has the discreet power to do.
While the F1 brand is sexy, stunning and fresh, it was the merging of European and Miami (particularly South Beach) cultures in a single event that generated motorsport mating gravitas, creating a visual and experiential spectacle that Austin will no doubt find difficult to replicate when F1 comes to town in October for the 5.513-kilometer Circuit of The Americas.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first-ever F1 Miami Grand Prix is over, and it was Miami chic all over, oozing with A+++ celebrities who, from Michael Jordan and Tom Brady to Serena Williams and Patrick Mahomes, chose F1 Miami over Mummy — and on Mother’s Day no less. But it was the local favorite, legendary Miami Dolphins quarterback and Ace Ventura cameo Dan Marino who awarded Tiffany’s handcrafted Sterling Silver trophies to first place winner Max Verstappen/Red Bull and Ferrari runners-up Charles Leclerc and Carlos Saint in second and third place respectively, creating enough buzz to drown out crew complaints about the state of the track surface and the weather. Bienvenido Miami, indeed.
While the Miami course may not soon go down in history as the best the U.S. can offer in terms of tracks— the Indy 500 or California’s own Laguna Seca are mainstays in that department - the tropical climate and the city’s infrastructure ranks #1 for customer experience, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?
A torrential downpour isn’t something the likes of Max Verstappen dealt with when he took the crown at Abu Dhabi, but it didn’t stop him from overtaking Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the first turn on the first lap in Miami. Just goes to show that a good carpenter doesn’t blame his tools.
Miami had a tarmac issue, with complaints the track was “weak” resulting in serious grip issues created by tires of large machinery that made pebbles out of asphalt. “It seems like just the stones are getting loose and kind of get washed just off the line,” said Red Bulls’ Daniel Ricciardo, “if you miss a little bit the apex, then you’re sliding off and it’s difficult." Traction - or loss of - was almost certainly the reason Lando Norris’ McLaren lost its tire in a collision with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. Ditto that with Sergio Perez’ attack on Ferrari’s Leclerc, he stalled on turn 1 when his wheel locked resulting taking a slide that was somewhat wide.
Yes, the weather and tarmac didn't make for the easiest race in the history of F1, but at the same time it made it not boring for the technically minded out there.
All-in-all, there weren’t many surprises on the checkered flag. Verstappen won, Leclerc still leads in points, and Hamilton’s Mercedes finished 6th. Wait… what? Sounds worse than it is, but still not great for the perennial champ.
In the end they ended up in the exact same spot they started in, nothing lost and nothing gained. Hamilton spoke candidly after the race: “The car definitely didn’t feel the same as it did on the laps to the grid. So I’m sure they will check it but probably corner weights; it was quite a hard hit… but otherwise okay. I did the best I could, a bit unfortunate, but we got good points as a team and we’ll take them and move on.”
In the end everyone and everything is where it should be. Miami didn't end up being a blow out event where the balance of everything that ever happened is upset. But there's room. Maybe Honda’s aggressive stance will prove winning. Maybe Mercedes and Red Bull will fall behind, who knows. The one thing we do know is that for an inaugural race, Miami did what it does best: the town turned-out, carried its weight as a chic, almost European destination worthy of hosting events with global appeal in a way that makes the U.S. appear, well, less RAH-RAH American, capable of attracting new fans to new forms of racing. F1 Miami also raised the bar on what racing can do, in terms of infrastructure, so fans can expect more from the racing events that serve them.
Godspeed Austin - F1 Miami is a tough act to follow!