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Formula 1 preview: Miami Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credit: Dan Istitene - Formula 1 via Getty Images

Formula 1 is back and bigger than ever with the third ever Miami Grand Prix. For a driver, nothing can be more compelling than a 57 lap race in electrifyingly quick machines around the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami. 

Ever since its addition to the calendar in 2022, the Miami Grand Prix has only enhanced the rich flavour of sporting heritage Miami possesses, and the only thing it needs now is its first truly captivating race.

Circuit Guide

Credit: Formula 1

The Miami International Autodrome is situated in the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, home to the famous American football team Miami Dolphins. The circuit itself is designed to feel like a street circuit, despite not using any public streets in the layout, and so the jeopardy of the walls is never far away. 

Three DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones allow for overtaking galore, although frustration can grow for drivers trying to make an overtake stick, as Charles Leclerc found out to his detriment last year when Kevin Magnussen kept just breezing back past him.

Weekend Format

Following the admittedly entertaining completion of the Chinese sprint weekend, we have another one in Miami. Yet again, regular timings are thrown out the window, as it’s a later start this time for our European viewers (rather than ridiculously early).

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 17:30 pm

Sprint Qualifying - Friday, 21:30 pm

Sprint - Saturday, 17:00 pm

Qualifying - Saturday, 21:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 21:00 pm

Weather Forecast

Sunny skies interspersed with cloud cover are expected this weekend, with temperatures not likely to stray too far from a pleasant 25oC (77oF). Spring showers could be on the horizon though, with 20-30% chances of rain affecting the action on all three days of the Grand Prix weekend.

Major Talking Points

  • Adrian Newey’s future - The highly regarded chief technical officer at Red Bull, widely credited with the success of many championship winning cars, has reportedly made his desire to move on clear to the Red Bull higher-ups, his departure from the Milton Keynes outfit announced only a few hours ago. So what does the future hold for the highly demanded 65 year-old?

  • Silly Season Starting Already - Nico Hulkenberg made waves last week with the announcement of his upcoming departure from Haas, and commitment to Kick Sauber, soon to become Audi F1 of course. So where does this leave the current pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, and how much of a landslide is this going to have on the rest of the grid?

  • Upgrades Shaking Up the Grid - After a superb weekend for the McLaren team in China, long-waited upgrades are set to arrive in Miami and hopefully increase their competitiveness at the front even further, while Mercedes are going to have some tweaks ready, and Pierre Gasly will receive the newly upgraded Alpine car that Esteban Ocon was able to drive in China. So will these changes cause a shake up at the front or elsewhere?

The Miami International Autodrome in Years Gone By

Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The talk preceding the 2022 Miami Grand Prix was of intrigue, excitement, as well as bewilderment at the strange choice to have a fake marina next to the track. The race itself had a decent start, with the two Ferraris having locked out the front row of the grid, but neither could keep Max Verstappen behind for long. 

The race was petering out, before a bizarre collision between Gasly and Norris gave rise to a frenetic safety car restart, but Verstappen had them all covered off and took victory ahead of the Scuderia duo.

In 2023, Verstappen was ninth on the grid, after Leclerc scuppered his qualifying attempt with a crash to bring out the red flag, so he had it all to do. 

Leclerc started just ahead of him, and looked to be making light work of the competition as he charged past Magnussen, only to be pegged back straight after, before having to watch as Verstappen breezed past them both on the same straight with the aid of DRS.

No one ahead without a Red Bull at their disposal could pull out any sort of a gap, so Verstappen soon overtook all of them, while it took Leclerc 37 laps to finally make an overtake stick on Magnussen. 

Eventually, a monstrous stint from Verstappen on 45-lap old hard tyres set him up for a rudimentary pass on his teammate with ten laps to go, to make it a dominant win from ninth at the start.

Last Race Recap

The Chinese Grand Prix was full of ups and downs, as you would expect from a weekend with four competitive events. A shock pole in sprint qualifying for Norris created lofty expectations for Saturday’s sprint, but a horror start for the Brit quickly ended any hopes of victory as Verstappen took gold. 

While Red Bull locked out the front row in main qualifying, Norris was able to split them on Sunday with a highly commendable second place finish.

The Ferraris followed them in, while Fernando Alonso could only finish behind George Russell from a good starting position, not helped by a questionable strategy decision from his Aston Martin team. 

Oscar Piastri suffered damage from an incident under the safety car, as Lance Stroll seemed to lose concentration and plough into the back of a queue of cars, knocking Daniel Ricciardo out of contention for some solid points, and ruining Piastri’s race potential too.

Lewis Hamilton couldn’t match his second place finish in the sprint, finishing just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who rounded out the top ten with an impressive drive. 

Ocon just missed out on points in eleventh, showing the potential of Alpine’s upgraded car, while it was double DNF disappointment for the previously high-flying RB team. Bottas was the race’s first retiree with an engine failure on lap 19.

Drivers to Watch

Credit: Jakub Porzycki/Anadolu via Getty Images

Oscar Piastri - Unseen Potential

The Chinese Grand Prix was one of the utmost frustration for Piastri as his severely damaged car could only limp home to P8, while the true pace of the McLaren was evident by a podium and a sprint pole for his teammate. 

With upgrades on the agenda this weekend though, and the Australian never one to be left out of the acclaim for too long, could we see Piastri fighting at the front in Miami?

Nico Hulkenberg - Consistency King

In the last four races, Hulkenberg has achieved a P9, two P10s, and a P11 finish. Consistently, he is dragging that Haas car in or around the points, and deserves a lot of praise for this achievement. 

He is outperforming his teammate on a regular basis, and looking to sign off on his Haas career with a bang, as his move to the Audi project has been confirmed. Will we see another solid showing from the German here in Miami?

Marcus’ Predictions

As is customary in Miami since its addition to the calendar, a Verstappen victory still seems somewhat inevitable. But with upgrades at the forefront of everyone’s mind, I could see a McLaren double podium ahead of Perez. I think Hulkenberg will continue his points run and Yuki Tsunoda will return to the points, and seal Ricciardo’s fate at RB.

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