Full grandstands, VIP lounges, an arena were bursting at the seams. It was an almost obstacle course as he tried to get from A to B in the narrow fairway between Hard Rock Stadium and the garages. The USA sent everything they had to present on the podium, from superstars to celebrities from sports, politics and society.
The sponsors also wanted to participate in the gold race. “The fanfare was so great that it was a privilege for many to buy a VIP ticket for $15,000,” explained Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner.
Formula 1 was happy to receive a lot of attention in its new market, but also realized that you had to put in a good show on the track so that all spectators would come back next year and not see Formula 1 as a scam.
According to Mario Andretti, the interest is not superficial, as one might think at first glance: “If Americans are interested in something, they do it right. They ask you about all the details. The complexity of this sport impresses them.”
Good track with a flaw
Despite initial complaints, the circuit passed its test. There are great trails with corners that reach speeds of up to 260 km/h, there is a slow technical part and three places you can pass. And you can’t afford the slightest mistake, as the incidents involving Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon have shown.
Lewis Hamilton spoke of a “great track with a flaw”. Like many of his colleagues, he complained of a narrow chikan. “Race tracks also need slow lanes,” Carlos Sainz replied. In fact, drivers only prefer fast corners where their cars are going as if they were on the rails. However, from a spectator’s point of view, the slower parts of the track are often more exciting because the car is moving more there.
But Sainz also admitted that the left/right combination was at the limit for modern cars: “It’s too long, too wide, too cumbersome. If you avoid hurdles, you’ll need luck even to get around a corner.”
Max Verstappen advises: “Make the line smoother if there’s room for it. In the kart, the corner would be great, in a Formula 1 car sometimes it hurts. With our cars with solid suspension, it really hurts, to steal over the barriers.”
Charles Leclerc was the only pilot of the winning trio who was able to get something out of the eye of the needle: “I enjoyed the position because you had to be very precise when cornering. However, in traffic, the pilot is disloyal because you can’t see very well because of the hill , where you have to go when you’re in front of a car. That’s why it’s hard to keep up with the opponent. That’s why a line with a lower angle will help. Closer to the car in front of you going the long, straight road.”
Asphalt with grip on loose fragments
Asphalt had to be subjected to the most criticism. There was no intent behind it. Florida regulations dictated that building materials from local suppliers must be used. Additionally, track operators have outdone themselves when it comes to high pressure cleaning, possibly out of ignorance.
Eventually, the casing separated from the pavement, revealing small boulders in the surface, which then broke off when cars passed over them. This gave drivers a feeling they had never experienced before. “There was a grip on the perfect line, and it still felt like he was on loose shards. The car was always moving,” said George Russell.
Small pebbles along with tire scraps were moved next to the perfect line, where there was no sudden hold from one meter to the next. Russell likened it to “driving on patches of dry track after it rains.” One had to avoid entering this area at all costs. “I almost hit the pit wall once because I got a little off the track in the penultimate corner.”
Thus, Valtteri Bottas lost his fifth place. The Finn braked a little late with the two Mercedes behind, got in the dirt and from there he went straight to the wall at walking speed. At this point, the situation became even more difficult due to the fact that the regulator had to repair it again with a new piece of asphalt. This provided a different level of grip than regular asphalt.
Wolff gives Miami a 9 out of 10
Fears that the Miami Grand Prix premiere could be a parade didn’t materialize. There was only one path, but that sparked mistakes and opened up opportunities to attack. Even on the short house stretch, people bypassed. Asphalt means that some tires wear more than others, or that the rubber needs a shorter or longer heating stage.
The record scored a total of 44 overtaking maneuvers. Few of them seemed easy. DRS was helpful but not a guarantee of overtaking. We are used to the fact that the field is divided into two groups, Red Bull and Ferrari up front, then nothing for a long time and then the rest. It has nothing to do with the road.
But the Safety Car stage, which breathed a second life into the Grand Prix, certainly did. The layout of the road and paved road increased the likelihood of an accident. Many were surprised that it took 40 laps to get there.
Miami doesn’t have much to tweak in the upcoming 2023 release. Maybe a smoother streak through chicane or Tecpro or a pile of tires coming out at turn 13 and a patch on the asphalt if wind and weather can’t manage it on their own. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff awarded the first grand prix in the sunny state of America 9 out of 10.