RACE DEBRIEF

    The Miami GP is set to be one of the most hyped additions to the Formula 1 calendar in recent memory. The anticipation and expectation placed on the race has been huge, but with just days to go until the cars take to the track for the first time, there is little to suggest the race will be anything but the gamechanger it has marked itself as since its announcement.

    Formula 1 has an uneasy past in the United States, with some circuits proving their value with longevity and creating history, while others have disappeared from the calendar as quickly as they arrived. And with the announcement that the Miami GP would be held within the campus of the Hard Rock Stadium, it was easy for the doubters to raise questions over the circuit itself.

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    While Formula 1 has recently announced a return to Las Vegas for 2023, memories in the sport are long and the failure of the Caesars Palace race in the 1980s loomed large. 'Car Park' tracks, from Le Mans in the 1960s through to F1’s ill-fated previous stop-offs in Vegas, have never really excited or entertained, but when the track layout was made public, all previous notions of what was achievable were left far behind. Miami was never going to be a hastily bashed out street track in a parking lot. What the organisers envisioned, and have created, is on a scale with every permanent road course on the calendar.

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    "What the organisers envisioned is on a scale with every permanent road course on the calendar"

    Simulator runs by the current grid have created an aura of expectation among the teams and racers. Miami has a flow, has been designed to be a challenge and to create racing spectacle, and few believe it will do anything but provide it. As with everything in the planning and creation of this new venue, every detail has been considered, every lesson learnt to create what the organisers maintain will be a race experience that forever changes our appreciation of what a 21st century Formula 1 event can be.

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    When the race was first announced, over 75% of the interest for attendance came from the corporate world, and with that in mind, the circuit is filled with hospitality. For decades, Monaco was considered the place to do business. Over the past decade, that mantle has been passed to Singapore. But with Miami, there’s a feeling that this race event could become one of the most pivotal weekends for deals to be done and business created within the industry, and in particular, in one of the sport’s fastest growing regions.

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    But the fan has remained at the heart of the planning. The utilisation of the Hard Rock Stadium itself as a hub of fan activity, the grandstand vantage points at the most exciting areas of the track, and the sheer weight of activities, concerts and fan central shows and events both at the track and in Miami itself, have left those visiting expecting a weekend more that’s as much Coachella as it is COTA.

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    From the outset, the real flavour of Miami has been central to the organiser’s vision, and to that end, it was announced early on that much of the fan-based food experience would come from local minority-owned restaurants; from soul food to hibachi, cupcakes to cajun, all areas of Miami’s rich gastronomic menus are set to be catered for and represented.

    Inaugural events often struggle to live up to the hype. There are always teething troubles. It’s the nature of the beast. But rarely has a race been so well thought through or prepared.

    The very nature of the circuit, existing in the campus of the Hard Rock Stadium, sets it apart from many other circuits either in the US, or on the F1 calendar. It’s half road course, half street track. A modern, purpose-built, all-encompassing race facility developed in the heart of a metropolitan community.

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    With just days to go, there’s rarely been such fevered anticipation for the arrival of a new race venue. But even with all the planning and the awareness of what lies in store, it’s still a step into the unknown. Will it truly be a step into the next generation of Formula 1 events? For as long as the sun shines in Florida, there seems little doubt Miami will make good on all we expect it to be.