Miami parties, Miami heat, and so much glamor.
Well, that was exciting. The first-ever Miami Grand Prix is in the books; Red Bull driver (and reigning World Champion) Max Verstappen was crowned the winner, with Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. taking home 2nd and 3rd, respectively. We've already dissected the race itself, which was rather uneventful after Verstappen passed Leclerc and stayed there for the remainder. There was also a pretty scary crash involving AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and McLaren's Lando Norris, which took Norris out of the race.
Fans who watched on television have their own opinions on the Miami race, but CarBuzz was privileged enough to attend in person; big thanks to Acura for inviting us! From our vantage point on turn 11, we have our own takeaways from the Miami Grand Prix: what worked, what didn't, and where the event can be improved.
Despite being held in a beach city, the Miami Grand Prix took place nowhere near the water. Instead, the race took place at the Miami International Autodrome, a temporary tack assembled around Hard Rock Stadium where the Dolphins play. The reasoning for the venue choice is complicated. Organizers originally targeted downtown Miami, where the race would feel like the Monaco Grand Prix, only in the United States. When those plans fell through, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stepped up to offer his stadium.
Annoyingly, this meant a one-hour commute to get to the track each day, but it did save Miami residents from dealing with closed-off streets for an entire weekend. Though it lacks the elevation changes of some other F1 circuits, the Miami Autodrome never felt like it was assembled hastily in a parking lot. The giant football stadium in the middle added a unique viewing point where fans could also watch the race on the scoreboards.
Though the event didn't take place on the water, the race organizers knew there had to be yachts present. That's why they assembled the MIA Marina, where fans could book tickets to sit on yachts that were parked on a wooden deck with a fake water wrap. It was truly a sight to behold in person, and completely representative of Miami and its obsession with being flashy. Though many F1 laughed at the fake water, we think the utter absurdness of it will have people talking about it for years to come. Besides, what is more Miami than a brightly-colored vinyl wrap?
Our vantage point for the race was the Red Bull Energy Station, located at turn 11 on the track. This massive deck featured all-you-can-eat food, all the Red Bull you can drink, plus an indoor area with more food and two F1 racing simulators. We enjoyed nice cushioned seats with umbrellas providing shade from the scorching Miami heat, with a great view of the cars as they blasted down from turn 10 into the tight curve of turn 12.
A DJ was on-hand all day to keep attendees entertained when there wasn't any racing taking place, and the Red Bull and AlphaTauri F1 cars were on display. We even had guest appearances by Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, and Yuki Tsunoda.
It's hard to stress how massive this event was. Walking around to see everything would take multiple days, but we did manage to find a lot of the highlights. The entire weekend was one massive party, with DJs, luxury cabanas, rum bars, and fan activations scattered around the vast campus. Of course, there were plenty of high-dollar cars parked on the grounds, including an assortment of Ferrari challenge cars. Miami's blue and pink color scheme yielded some exceptional but pricey merchandise, with plenty of cool stuff for fans to take home.
If the race wasn't extravagant enough, the nightlife took the event over the edge. Miami is world-renowned for its party atmosphere, which doesn't fully come alive until the wee hours of the morning. Acura graciously brought us to STORY Miami, where the luxury automaker was sponsoring the club for the weekend with a new 2022 Integra parked out front. Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to sample several of Miami's finest restaurants, with delicious food and drinks. Miami certainly lives up to the glitz and the glamor of an F1 venue.
Acura made itself prominent during the weekend, having the entire Type S lineup present. The two Red Bull drivers were given a 2022 Acura NSX Type S to drive around, while team principal Christian Horner was driven around in a 2022 Acura MDX Type S. The AlphaTauri drivers each got an Acura TLX Type S to drive around, with Yuki Tsunoda commenting on how nice the ventilated seats cooled his buttocks in the Florida heat. We drove down to Miami in the recently-refreshed 2022 Acura RDX, which impressed us with its Yuki Tsunoda-approved ventilated seats, excellent ELS Studio audio system, and inspiring lane keep assist for the four-hour drive.
The race organizers pulled off a miracle by turning an NFL parking lot into a race track. That being said, there are a few ways they could improve it for next year. First, we'd turn it into a night race. The Miami temperatures during the day are simply unbearable, and having the event take place at night would make a world of difference. F1 will host the Las Vegas Grand Prix at night next year, so we think Miami should do the same. Next, there are some clear improvements that need to be made to the track. Drivers voiced their concerns over the asphalt quality, which caused massive crashes for Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon.
Since this is a temporary track, there is no reason why it couldn't be prepped better for next year's race. In fact, we believe it would be a fun twist if the Miami Grand Prix featured a different layout every year. Such a change would make this Grand Prix stand out from the rest and offer the added challenge of learning a new track each season.
Whatever the future holds for the event, it's certain to be with us for some time, especially after it became the most-watched live American F1 race ever.