The event itself was packed with celebrities, parties, fancy marina building, and somewhere in the midst of it all, the Grand Prix. After spending a few days breathing, it’s time to evaluate the results and talk about what the series can and should do to improve the event for next year.
And in case you’re wondering if there’s a guarantee of a year ahead, the event’s financial success leaves no doubt that Formula 1 is already deciding where the race is in the 2023 calendar.
The stands were packed, with fans paying ticket prices on par with many of the world’s major sporting events. And it wasn’t just tickets – a crash using some common buying patterns found that it would cost $2,300 for a family of four to attend the event (not including transportation or accommodation).
F1’s interest in America continues to rise, and now series owner Liberty Media appears to have no regrets about its recent decision to add a third US race in Las Vegas next year.
As for the race itself, the reactions were mixed. For the masses, the long roads combined with new styling regulations that improve ease of follow-up and passing brought hope of a crossfire with cars using the DRS to beat each other.
There were also predictions of mayhem causing the yellow flag, as drivers learned how to handle heavy braking areas on an unfamiliar track, and the latter sector was described as a “fault generator”.
It turns out that the first half of the race delivered very little of the promised excitement, and online comments dominated with variants around ‘boring’ and ‘bringing rain’. Max Verstappen managed to take Charles Leclerc’s first place fairly early on, but when laps counted, it’s starting to become clear that Red Bull was just a faster car.
Unlike Red Bull, Ferrari has yet to make any of its updates to the season and has ditched the speed advantage it seemed to have at the start of the year (they hope to change this soon), leaving Leclerc helpless in front of the defending champion. But for the most part, the cars seemed incapable of challenging positions.
Esteban Ocon offered one explanation for the cars’ inability to catch up and chase their rivals when he stated in a post-race interview – “There was only one line. The runway…with the heat, it crumbles, so it was hard to make moves.”
Verstappen added that once you get off the racing line “it feels like gravel”. After a severe collision between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly, the race turns into chaos as the field begins to gather in an attempt to overcome the limitations of the surface.
Clean passing was still difficult to achieve, as the midfield fight resulted in two more collisions and two penalty kicks for cars crossing the track limits to gain an advantage. While the safety car succeeded in increasing the intensity of movement, it did little to improve public opinion of the product offered.
Taking high prices into account – one example: The team’s baseball hats were between $80 and $150! The overall scene of the Miami International Autodrome was a huge success. Even the fake marina, which was the subject of much derision when it was built, was actually a fun and interesting spectacle that gave an “only in Miami” feel, along with many references to “Miami Vice”.
Fans at the event seemed to have mostly had a great time, despite the Florida heat, the disastrous catering incident where the VIPs had chicken and the mediocre burgers (okay, maybe not all of that disastrous). A brief rainstorm led to enthusiastic reactions among international fans, but not among Americans more familiar with typical Florida weather forecasts.
What’s important in F1 is that the event will require improvements if the series has a long-term future at the facility. The surface is the most important and perhaps the most difficult immediate challenge. Engineers developed a unique blend of asphalt to handle the Miami climate, but Ocon and other drivers weren’t happy with the results.
Regulators now have the better part of the year to improve the surface, but they also have to solve not only the Florida heat but Florida regulations that require the use of local materials and local asphalt companies.
The event could certainly benefit from an earlier date in the calendar (a late-season appearance likely out of the question due to the difficulty of coordinating with the NFL), although the series is currently spending March on the other side of the planet.
Optimizing the route planning is also at the top of the place’s priority list. Miami’s unique location as a temporary “street” circuit that does not actually use public streets makes the physical aspect of changing turns relatively easy but defining a layout that satisfies drivers and fans an even greater challenge.
Tom Garfinkel, managing partner of the Miami Grand Prix, promises to redouble efforts using driver feedback to find the best possible build. Whatever is changed, 2023 will surely see the addition of Tecpro barriers, F1’s version of energy-absorbing walls, the absence of which led to criticism after severe crashes involving Econ and Carlos Sainz.
While the reaction to the latest Formula 1 venue may have ventured strongly into hyperbolic, in fact, Miami put on a decent bid for a debut event.
There is obviously plenty of room for improvement, but it is only in the regulators’ interest to make these improvements, and have their goal as the apex of the series’ calendar in the future.
Whether they’re able to maintain a level of interest in people who can afford their prices is something we’ll have to wait to find out.