Yesterday F1 confirmed that the city of Miami has approved plans to host a Grand Prix on the streets in 2019 but is this such a good idea.
Let’s start with why Liberty has pushed for and now seeming secured a second race in the US.
Liberty is an American company and so has the knowledge and motive to expand F1’s popularity in the states, which right now is fairly minimal especially compared to US-born motorsports like Indy Car and NASCAR.
This is partly down to F1 being a global sport mainly based in Europe which means all but a few races (i.e. Canada, Brazil and US) are in the early hours of the morning which means only the hardest of the hardcore fans will stay/get up to watch. And the US simply doesn’t have enough of those fans at the moment making for poor viewing audiences.
Another reason is that F1 hasn’t had a good relationship with America and many previous attempts at US races have flopped, note the 1981/2 races which took place in the car park of the Ceaser Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, or the 2005 Indianapolis race which was such a facade it deserves it’s own paragraph or two.
The problem was to do with tyres and that back 2005 there were 2 different suppliers in Michelin and Bridgestone. Michelin had brought the wrong tyre to the race and it meant those using that tyre were at risk of blowouts particularly at the final turn. A series of crashes over the weekend even saw Ralf Schumacher crash the final turn and be replaced due to injuries. After days of back and forth about whether the race should be called off, Michelin flew in new tyres of a previous constitution which suffered the same failures. it was then decided the race would go ahead as normal.
This, however, annoyed the Michelin runners as they would need to go to the grid despite having no intention of racing. As such all 20 cars took the formation lap but as they approached the pit entry all 14 Michelin fitted cars came into the pits to retire before they had begun to the sound of booing from the crowd. This left only 6 cars to take the start.
Still, at least it meant Tiago Monteiro scored his only F1 podium.
For a full description of the whole event check out Marc Priestly’s book the mechanic which gives a very interesting take on events from the view of a team the retired.
Anyway back to the point, that almost all but the current Austin race (right) have only served to shatter the fragile relationship between the US and F1. This is something Liberty needs to mend as the potential audience gain is huge.
It is, therefore, a very good idea for F1 to add a second race in the US although this is something I am sceptical about.
The track layout that has been proposed does seem decent, it’s Baku like which may not be a bad thing, and crosses back and forth over the Port Miami bridge.
But my big gripe with it is it’s a street race.
This may seem odd and if you want the full reason why then check out my post on street races in F1 here. But the main point is that while yes street races give better access for fans and create difficult circuits, in my opinion, they just don’t suit F1 especially not with the size of the current cars.
They give little opportunity for overtaking and don’t allow the drivers to get the most out the cars.
Even places like Monaco hailed as the jewel in the crown can have some dull/frustrating moments as drivers struggle to get past one another. Take Daniel Ricciardo in 2016 for example where he failed on multiple occasions to get past Hamilton after a pitstop blunder put him second and cost him the race.
The other thing I’m not sure about is about having two races in the same country.
Many believe this to be a good idea and with the US being as big as it is I could make an exception but here’s my point. I feel that the race in a given country should be THE race in that country THE US Grand Prix, THE British Grand Prix, THE Spanish Grand Prix and so on. Having more than one race makes each of them A Grand Prix.
Like I say I can make an exception for America since it’s basically 52 normal sized countries and there are some incredible tracks in the US but it’s not something I’d like to see elsewhere.
So, in conclusion, should F1 go to Miami? I think so as much as I’m not a fan of the track or to be honest that Liberty has only promoted new races in the US. But it is good that Liberty is trying to grow F1’s audience in the US and has to some extent been successful as Miami recently got the green light from the local authorities.
So what do think of F1 going to the streets of Miami? Let me know and please share.