Miami will play host to the Formula One circus for the first ever time this weekend.
A race in the city was first proposed for 2019 so it’s been a long time coming for an event likened to “the Super Bowl” by McLaren’s American boss Zak Brown.
After a change of location away from the city’s port to downtown Miami, the Hard Rock Stadium provides a glitzy backdrop for the sport’s newest circuit.
With no past results to refer to, a lot of unknowns exist around Sunday’s race but with a street circuit akin to Jeddah, it’s likely that the top two in Saudi Arabia – and current Championship rivals – Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will dominate once again.
Something for everyone at F1s newest destination?
The newest US F1 track is markedly different to the Texas circuit which has been a mainstay of the calendar for 10 years now.
The Miami International Autodrome boasts a number of long straights and high speed corners that present slipstreaming opportunities.
But it’s not all about raw power, with a relatively short start/finish and extremely tight corners at Turns 14 and necessitating slower speeds and greater caution.
Overall it would seem that Red Bull’s superior engine power could give them the edge given the overtaking potential from Turn 8 to 11 and then again from 16 to 17.
But considering the circuit’s street characteristics, there will be plenty for the drivers to be wary of in these new surroundings, as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly found in simulation.
“I’ve tried it and I must say it looks pretty awesome,” said the Frenchman.
All times BST
Friday 6 May
- Free Practice 1 – (7.30pm-8.30pm; Sky Sports F1)
- Free Practice 2 – (10.30pm-11.30pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
Saturday 7 May
- Free Practice 3 – (6pm-7pm; Sky Sports F1)
- Qualifying – (9pm-10pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
Sunday 8 May
- Miami Grand Prix (8.30pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
how to watch
- TV: Sky Sports Main Event (Sky channel 401, BT 419) and Sky Sports F1 (Sky channel 406, BT 427)
- live stream: Watch on the NOW app on mobile, tablet or smart TV (£33.99 per month; £11.98 for 24-hour pass) or via the Sky Go app for existing subscribers
“I really liked the layout. Quite a lot of high-speed content, quite challenging, unusual type of corners, extremely long corners, very long straights.”
The guest list for the inaugural Miami event makes impressive reading too. LeBron James, Tom Brady and David Beckham are among those expected to be in attendance for Sunday’s race.
So there’s certainly an added pressure on the drivers this week to carve their name into history and become the race’s first ever winner.
“It’s been nerve-wracking because it’s going to be such a huge event,” said Lewis Hamilton.
“I’ve been coming out here for a long time and I never quite understood why people weren’t into Formula 1.
“It’s really amazing to see that we’ve cracked it and there’s a growing love in the States.”
Miami heat fitting for developing title race
The omens are good for Red Bull. In this year’s other street race in Jeddah, the team took pole and victory.
But a glance at the top of the drivers’ standings provides a reminder of Leclerc’s superior consistency, minus his podium-costing crash at the end of the Imola Grand Prix, with a 28 point gap to Verstappen in a second.
The pair are split for race wins so far with two each, but Verstappen failed to finish in either of Leclerc’s victories, with reliability issues threatening to destabilize his title defense in races one and three.
The Dutchman will hope the pattern breaks this time around at race number five, and pray that he isn’t the reason for yet another Safety Car appearance.
Every race in 2022 has required the Safety Car so far and it has featured in three of the last six races that were new or returned to F1 since 2020.
Red Bull claim to have resolved the issues which caused Verstappen’s two previous DNFs. A second consecutive race victory would surely bring an end to that particular debate and put him firmly on track for a second Championship title.
What next for Mercedes and can Ricciardo kick-start his season?
For Hamilton, the wait for upgrades to the Mercedes car and a first race victory of the year goes on.
Barcelona in two weeks’ time has been earmarked as the time for improvements to the W-13 but team boss Toto Wolff hinted that solutions may unfold in Miami.
He said: “We have found several directions for improving the car, and we will be conducting experiments in Miami to correlate those simulations, and hopefully confirm the development path for the coming races.”
Daniel Ricciardo has endured an equally frustrating start to the season, with a pleasing showing at home in Australia his only points-finish to date.
But as one of the original stars of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series – one of the reasons for the surge in F1s US popularity – the McLaren driver will be desperate to delight a crowd likely to be right behind him.
“I’m buzzing to be heading to Miami,” said the Australian.
“The US is like a second home to me, so I can’t wait to get on track in front of the fans and soak up the amazing atmosphere in the city.
“Miami knows how to put on a show so it’s shaping up to be an incredible weekend.”