Miami will be the 11th different venue in the United States to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship – and for the first time since 1984, American fans will have two grands prix they can watch within their own country. With a third race set to come in Las Vegas in 2023, the increasing impact of Formula 1 stateside is becoming clear to see.
Named the Miami International Autodrome, the circuit has been created specially to bring Formula 1 to the city and is designed to be a temporary layout but with a permanent feel – rather like Albert Park in Melbourne. It’s located in the suburb of Miami Gardens, around the Hard Rock Stadium complex. As well as being home to the city’s famous Miami Dolphins American football team, the stadium has hosted six Super Bowls, two Baseball World Series and concerts for musical icons including The Rolling Stones, U2, Coldplay and Madonna. So it knows how to put on a show.
It’s hard to know what the race will be like before the inaugural running but, like other similar modern street circuits, the quality of racing has certainly been a consideration in its design. In fact, as many as 75 different layouts are said to have been considered, with 36 of those being simulated.
The finalised circuit design is 5.41 kilometres in length with 19 turns. There are three straights, with the pit straight actually being the shortest of those flat-out sections – each of which is set to be a DRS zone to help overtaking. The other two should provide the best chances for a pass: The first on the southern side of the circuit into the Turn 11 left-hander, and the second along the longest straight at the northern end which is followed by the tighter Turn 17 left-hander.
Besides this, there are several sweeping bends lined by walls, and there are more elevation changes than you might expect. The main one is between Turns 13 and 16, where the track runs above and below various access ramps to the Florida's Turnpike highway – rising upwards on the approach into the chicane at Turns 14/15 and dropping down on the exit.
Although nobody quite knows what to expect from the track, one aspect that's quite interesting is the fact that it’s been designed in collaboration with F1 themselves (as a company). This means that the track is set to be tailor-made to the characteristics of the latest package of cars and tyres, with plenty of overtaking opportunities. The asphalt will be brand new of course, which might make it quite slippery until a bit of rubber is laid down. All in all, it should be a spectacular weekend.
There’s so much to do in Miami that it’s hard to know where to start – and the whole concept of the race has been built with entertainment in mind: both at the track and away from it. Staying close to the track, there’s a wide range of concerts planned from international artists throughout the campus as well as at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel nearby.
A little known fact is that the Hard Rock Stadium is also reckoned to be the largest outdoor art gallery in the world, which will showcase the work of local artists throughout the weekend. To soak up some race atmosphere, head to the Racing Fan Fest in Miami’s hippest neighbourhood, Wynwood, which features a full programme of free entertainment as well as every sort of merchandise you can imagine.
There’s also a replica Miami karting track being created in the Design District so that visitors can ‘drive’ the circuit for themselves and parties being planned wherever you look on the stunning Art Deco Miami beachfront. Basically, the race is taking over the city in a way that’s never been seen before.
When we say the ‘city’, there are actually three: Miami itself (where the downtown is called Brickell), Miami Beach (the most famous part) and Miami Gardens (where the track is).
On the Beach, the shopping area is Lincoln Road – where Pirelli is opening a pop-up P Zero World – but the main strip of bars is on Ocean Drive. There’s also a neat road of restaurants on Espanola Way. If you want a true flavour of Miami Vice, head to Mac’s Club Deuce: a typical Miami dive bar. The cast and crew used to drink there, as did John Travolta and Humphrey Bogart.
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