Miami hype machine and the future of F1 races

I was reading an article by Jonathan Noble over at Motorsport about the hype of the Miami GP and if it would be a threat to other races such as Monaco, Singapore or other high profile races on F1’s calendar.

The thought is that the Miami GP has been incredibly hyped and some suggest it will become a benchmark. The article quotes McLaren boss Zak Brown:

“I think Miami is going to raise the bar for everyone. Singapore is an unbelievable event. Monaco is an unbelievable event. Silverstone is an unbelievable event. Abu Dhabi is an unbelievable event. Australia was sold out this year.

“People recognise the Super Bowl as the biggest sporting event in the world, but Abu Dhabi had a bigger audience.

“Maybe the World Cup final is still the biggest overall, but it’s for one day every four years – and we’ve got 23 races, so it’s 23 Super Bowls.”

No matter how successful Miami or Las Vegas might be, I don’t see either deflating races like Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi or Silverstone. The fact is, Miami might be very hyped at the moment but it is a different locale and the hype has very little to do with fans in Monaco or Silverstone.

Miami will have to produce good racing to elevate itself into the top spot of F1’s “must-have” races. Let’s hope it does but what we are feeling now is the tangible example of the explosive growth in F1 interest in the US via Drive to Survive. The race promoters are injecting cash into marketing and media to hype their event and capitalize on the interest and attention US fans have recently acquired.

What is more interesting in Jonathan’s article is Zak impression of how they may accommodate new locations that want to host a race. No mystery that the paddock feels 23 races is the maximum they can handle so how would you include new races especially if Miami and Vegas are big successes?

“I think there’s demands from places like South Africa, etc, and we can’t really logistically do more than 23 grands prix,” he said.

“I mean, at what point do you go, that’s just too much? Everyone right now kind of feels like this is max.

“So if you did 17, and then you had five that rotated every year, you’re still at a 23-race calendar and we hold our economics where they are, which is important.

“We don’t increase the frequency, but we increase the markets. There’s a lot of sports where they play every two years or every four years?

“You wouldn’t want to have a grand prix every four years, but I think every two years works.”

This revolving race concept is interesting in that it would suggest that the premium for the stable 17 would be higher than perhaps the price tag for the revolving lot of races. If recent memory is anything to go by, the hosting fee of approximately $25M might be higher if you want to be one of the 17 that races each year but could you demand that kind of price for a race that revolves on a bi-yearly (or depending on how many floaters they have) or every three years? Clearly not.

F1 could make the argument that even though a race may be on a revolving schedule, a 4-year deal (which would take 8 years to complete) is still a four year deal and still carry the same price tag. If I were the host race promoter, I would argue that the lack of continuity is a negative and it reduces the price tag.

The toughest part would be to pick the stable 17 and then determine the revolving 5 races. If I were F1, the revolving race slots might be a good way to vet new races but also, the amount of work that goes into creating a racing circuit means that having quick one-off’s isn’t really feasible.

In the end, you would have a two-tiered system of races. Those who warrant a more permanent spot on the calendar due to legacy or higher price tag and those who revolve in order to accommodate the demand of races around the world. Well that kind of comports with F1’s current situation of a two-tiered racing series with Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and then everyone else. Ok, that was a bit cheeky, I know.

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Xean Drury

Firstly, Miami lost me at ‘Parking Lot Grand Prix’. It’s up to them to prove me wrong, and I indeed hope greatly that I am proven wrong. Secondly, there is a lot more interest in F1 than there once was. The only way I can think of hosting a grand prix every weekend (basically) is if they added significantly more teams and races, then did a split thing where not every team races every race, and then they do a ‘pay offs’ (to borrow another sport’s terms) for the top drivers in the last few races. It’d be a mess… Read more »

Paul Kiefer

Were you looking for “playoffs”?

Xean Drury

Ha! I was, thanks. Although pay offs could be interesting too XD

Paul Kiefer

So, first of all, how are the logistics running in a 20-race season, or even a 17-race season. Last time I checked, they were, for the most part, zipping all over the planet, going here and there, without any sort of organization. One week, they’re in the Middle East. Next week, Asia. Another 2 weeks from then, they’re in the middle east, and then back in Europe, then in the Americas, then back in the Middle East? How is this efficient, even from a logistical standpoint. It would have been much better to group the races by the seasonal changes.… Read more »

Fabio

Is it in Miami this weekend? you know, I hadn’t realised, it hasn’t been mentioned anywhere.

Sarcasm aside, F1’s push into ‘cracking the US’ originated from Bernie and his greed for more money, not for any other reason.
If the Miami GP is successful, it will threaten other GPs that think they are a shoo-in to stay on the calendar, like Monaco which is about to be dropped from the calendar.

Fred

Miami especially is about the promoter making money. If they don’t they will drop F1 and go to Indy just Pook did with Long Beach. I think Vegas has a longer term strategy for sports betting.

MIE

A great deal was made in the build up of how the track surface used local materials. This has required repairs in a number of locations on the track (some before the F1 cars even used the circuit) and now drivers are complaining that the surface has no grip off line and it will make overtaking very difficult.

For such a hyped event with very high ticket prices, the lack of any actual racing could be a big problem for the promoter in selling next year’s race.