There was a lot to talk about regarding the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. Even if you didn’t want to talk about it, it was so on point and on brand, you couldn’t help but talk about it such was the marketing and hype surrounding the Hard Rock stadium and the new Super Bowl of F1.
If the fake marina, sandy beach, bumpy track, grumpy asphalt, jewelry ban, underpants mandate, celebrity entourages and podium football helmets weren’t enough for you, then maybe you might have seen a decent race with some nice driving.
On Friday, Ferrari looked to be having a good performance with their high downforce set up while Red Bull were banking on their low downforce, straight-line speed down the straights. In the end, I chose Red Bull for the win in my fantasy GP league but Charles Leclerc had me questioning that pick all weekend long.
While pundits made a lot of the straight-line speed advantage that Red Bull had versus Ferrari’s advantage in the slower, twisty bits, I reckoned the other major issue could be the hot weather and Ferraris’ struggles with tire wear/degradation. The pundits were correct, mind you, Red Bull did have a strong advantage down the straights but I was worried that Ferrari’s tire management may remove much of their advantage on long runs even in the twisty bits. I think I was somewhat correct.
After a late safety car, Leclerc did make a run for the lead and it was a good battle up front with their teammates, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz trailing. Max was able to keep Leclerc behind him for the win with Charles and Carlos in second and third.
A big win for Max and Red Bull who needed to recover and gain points in both championships. The low-downforce gamble worked a treat and it was almost like they read Ferrari’s data in order to gauge if that straight advantage would cover the slow-speed advantage Ferrari had as it was just enough. Sergio suffered with a sensor issue but made a good effort at Sainz and to finish 4th was a good result given the issues.
I know it’s hard to give Mercedes a win given where they’ve been the last eight years but if you consider where they started this season, George Russel’s recovery from 12th to 5th was a decent run. Even a better strategy call from driver and team to wait for a Virtual Safety Car period, which did come prompting his pit stop, and gave Russell a much-needed leg up in track position and fresh tires. Lewis wasn’t as lucky as the VSC turned into a full Safety Car period and he was not able to get fresh tires. It’s the little things like Lewis’s comment to the team that this strategy isn’t helping him. Doesn’t sound like much but that won’t be lost on the team members in his garage.
A win for Alfa Romeo and Valtteri Bottas for a nice 7th but to be fair, it would have been higher had he not cooked a corner late in the race. Still, great points but it has to sting a little bit to throw away a 5th place finish ahead of his old team.
Good result for Alpine despite a ragged race from Fernando Alonso who finished behind his teammate, Esteban Ocon, in 8th and 9th.
A terrific result for Alex Albon who gave Williams a point and did a terrific job on track and with strategy.
A fail for Ferrari who looked to have the overall pace on Friday and pole position. Ultimately they have the car to compete with Red Bull if they can solve their drag issue as well as their tire wear/degradation rate. Charles Leclerc was 10/10th’s all day and even Carlos Sainz looked better than the past few races so they were moving in the right direction but there are a couple of fine details they need to solve.
A fail for Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris who were running decent but clouted each other (I assume Gasly didn’t see Lando). Teammate Yuki Tsunoda had an equally miserable day.
A fail for Haas at their home race as they were both running in the points and both drivers threw it away with ragged driving. Mick Schumacher had a terrific race going and tossed it all with an ill-advised move on Sebastian Vettel.
A fail for Aston Martin. Knowing they control the temperature of their fuel prior to putting it in their cars, it sounds like someone really missed the mark on that and spoiled the race for both cars. Brutal.
Once again, I’ve said it a million times, you can’t take F1 to America, you have to take America to F1. While I think the Miami GP was a very successful race on many levels, it’s the schmaltzy American hype and gimmicks that suggest that wealthy people bought a race but really don’t know what they are buying or how best to join the F1 global community. Football helmets, fake beaches and marina, police escort with blaring sirens to a podium that seemed like it was in a different zip code were all elements of this race, including handing out paddock passes like they were free flyers, that make it slightly embarrassing to be an American F1 fan.
It’s that bravado of, “let’s show them how we do things in America” that is the very thing that turns people off…including F1 fans in America. You have to have more poise than just treating this like a Monster Energy marketing activation with a “fan experience”. All that is BS and the race should respect, honor and enrich F1’s heritage while exposing F1 to Miami’s unique cultural heritage and glamor for a meaningful and long-lasting relationship. Gimmicky schmaltz and baubles is an insult to Miami and F1.
I see celebrities, or certain celebrities, still haven’t found the humility button on the grid which is incredibly base behavior.
I understand why they had Danica Patrick on the show and I think she is a fine person (I don’t know her personally) but the challenge is that it is clear she doesn’t follow F1 as close as a lead commentator needs to in order to add relevant content and context. Like I said, I understand wanting to have an American voice on the show but there may have been other American racers with a deeper insight to F1. She did a fine job but reading social media, she wasn’t giving people a warm and fuzzy.
Overall, I thought it was a good race but I think Miami can tone it down a bit and work on the things that matter, the track, the surface and the corners.
Pirelli Tire Story:
- It’s three wins from three race finishes for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen: he claimed the inaugural Miami Grand Prix from third on the grid with just one pit stop from the P Zero Yellow medium to the P Zero White hard. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished second and third on a similar strategy. All three podium finishers received a special Pirelli American Football helmet at the prize-giving ceremony held in the iconic Miami Dolphins stadium.
- A two-stopper was expected as the quickest strategy before the race, but the drivers managed to stretch their opening stints on the medium tyre – which most chose to start the race – without compromising performance, so that they could then run on the hard tyre all the way to the finish. An alternative approach was adopted by Mercedes driver George Russell, the highest-placed of just four drivers to start on the hard. He switched to the medium after 40 laps to finish fifth from P12 on the grid.
- As hoped for by many, a Virtual Safety Car and then Safety Car period towards the end of the race created opportunities by allowing drivers a ‘cheap’ pit stop, and several took advantage to change onto fresh tyres. These included Russell and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished in fourth as the best-placed two-stopper.
- Temperatures were still warm for the race but not quite as hot as they had been for the previous days: the grand prix got underway with 34 degrees ambient and around 48 degrees on track. There was a high degree of humidity and some risk of rain predicted, but this never actually materialised.
Miami GP Results:
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||57||48||1h34m24.258s||1m31.361s||1||26|
|3||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||57||1||+8.229s||1m31.79s||1||15|
|4||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||57||0||+10.638s||1m31.819s||2||12|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||57||0||+25.073s||1m33.184s||1||6|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||57||0||+37.026s||1m33.312s||1||0|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||57||0||+40.146s||1m33.035s||2||0|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||54||0||DNF||1m33.479s||2||0|
|Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||45||0||DNF||1m34.487s||3||0|
|Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||5||0||DNF||1m35.731s||1||0|