It will be a second chance for Miami.
Not from a contractual point of view, as the agreement signed with F1 runs until 2032, but to please fans, teams and drivers.
The most anticipated premiere of recent seasons, hyped by marketing actions, shows and lights, last year’s Miami GP was a fiasco on and off the track.
So much so that, after the race, the promoters received a tough report from Liberty Media with demands for changes for this year’s event.
Outside the track there was congestion and confusion to get to Hard Rock Stadium, the NFL stadium whose parking lot serves as the base for the circuit. There was a lack of water and shaded areas to escape the intense heat. But what most displeased Liberty were failures in one of the most sensitive points: the service to VIPs.
The structure was considered below the “five-star level” promised by the organizers. There was no food, no drink and many companies asked for refunds for the tickets they bought as gifts to customers and partners.
So many inconveniences created a fear of celebrities leaving the grid next Sunday. Also because the US will host two other GPs this year, including the premiere in Las Vegas, already labeled by Liberty as the “Super Bowl of Formula 1”.
“One thing we learned is that every first event brings challenges. And we faced several. There were some things that didn’t work in the pattern”, said Tyler Epp, president of the company that organizes the Miami GP, in an interview with the website “RaceFans”.
According to the executive, with stints at IndyCar and Nascar and at teams in the NFL and MLB, customer service was at the “top of the agenda” in the last ten months. Areas of the stadium will be open to fans, and that’s where the teams will set up their offices this year.
Inside the track there were also basic problems. Which clearly affected the dynamics of the race.
The asphalt, with very little grip, generated many complaints from the drivers. Alonso called it “below F1 standards”. Pérez said the tread was a “joke”.
Another critical point was the chicane at turns 14 and 15, which was considered too tight. Verstappen and Sainz made identical statements: it is not appropriate for current F1 cars. Hamilton said the stretch was more like a convenience store parking lot.
The result was a dull, bland race, with the winner already defined in the 9th of 57 laps.
Here, good news, bad news.
The good news: the circuit has been completely resurfaced with an asphalt mix used at other tracks on the calendar, work overseen by Hermann Tilke’s office.
The bad: the chicane has been changed, but not that much. “We listened carefully to advice from the FIA and the drivers and did what was possible. We tweaked the curb at turn 14 and made a slight change to the apex for turn 15,” explained Epp.
According to him, there are two obstacles for the chicane to be completely modified. The work would require authorization from the Florida government, because it would involve changes in the surrounding roads. And there is what he called a “geographical impediment”, since there is a ravine just beyond that stretch. “If you step forward at that point, you just fall,” he said.
May it be better than 2022. But I don’t have high hopes.
I’ve already written here and I’ll say it again: a circuit set up in a parking lot cannot provide good races. There is no ascent, no descent, no space, it goes against the nature of the sport.
Here’s the schedule for the fifth stage of the World Cup, in the fine line of Pilotoons.
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