Max Verstappen closed in on Charles Leclerc’s lead again at the first Miami Grand Prix, but did the race live up to his expectations?
For months, Formula One had been preparing for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and the stage was set as celebs flocked to Hard Rock Stadium.
The late late show’Host James Corden got in on the action, appearing in front of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, both sporting a glittery and cropped version of their orange stripe.
Formula 1 was unable to secure space at the circuit surrounding Miami’s iconic beach, but that didn’t matter as organizers hoped to create what they hoped would be an “authentic” Miami experience with man-made water at its heart of the range, even full size, manufactured yachts.
But all the excitement and fireworks built up to Sunday’s “Lights Out and Let’s Go” and that’s when the real questions about Miami’s credibility as a Grand Prix venue would be answered.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen started third on the grid but with a strong start he immediately passed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at the first corner and the championship fight lasted eight laps before the Dutchman was able to pass his 2022 rival Charles Leclerc.
And so the 2022 championship battle continues as Verstappen moves closer to leading his Monegasque rival.
But what did the inaugural Miami Grand Prix bring to Formula 1 as a race, venue and experience?
Was the off-track hype too much?
Ahead of the Miami race weekend, F1 veteran Martin Brundle said: “There is more anticipation for this Grand Prix than I have ever experienced. I’ve never seen so much hype and excitement leading up to a Grand Prix. And they did a great job here, folding what appears to be a great racetrack around Miami Dolphins Stadium.”
However, the race itself has to match the hype. The likes of David Beckham, DJ Khaled and Shawn Mendes all took to the streets of Miami to see the inaugural Grand Prix, but it seemed like the occasion of the weekend was worth more than the race itself.
While the race certainly had some heartbreaking and heartbreaking moments, it certainly wasn’t Monza 2021 or even Abu Dhabi 2021.
After witnessing all the hype and fanfare leading up to the Miami GP, one can only imagine what next year’s Las Vegas GP will have in store.
The only fear is that sport, as is often becoming the norm, will take a back seat and events around it will distract from what we should really be focusing on.
Will F1 become an America vs. Middle East battle?
In the 2021 F1 season we’ve seen three races take place in the Middle East, with the region accused of ‘sports laundering’ – pouring money into the sport to sell its own agenda.
Numerous organizations and drivers have expressed their concerns as it appeared that F1 and the FIA were not doing enough to acknowledge the problematic reports about the region’s human rights policies.
However, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi can all afford to host these races without issue and so they all carried on.
With interest in Formula One racing in America since Netflix Drive to Survive came out, states have poured more money into promoting the sport, and in 2023 we will have three F1 races in the Middle East and three in China America.
Six out of 23 races take place in two regions of over 140 countries.
It seems like America is fighting with the Middle East for dominance in Formula 1 and if the FIA is not careful, in a few years we could see both America and the Middle East for even more control of one Fighting sport whose history comes from all over the world.
Has Leclerc lost the title yet?
In 2022 there were five Formula 1 races and of the three that Max Verstappen has finished he has finished first each time.
Charles Leclerc looked set to storm the championship this year but Red Bulls Verstappen was keen to retain his 2021 crown and it seems that if his team can remain consistent he will have very few problems should win the title for the second consecutive year.
Ferrari remains well ahead in the Constructors’ Championship and Leclerc still has a small advantage over his Dutch rival, but if Verstappen continues his tremendous streak, the Italian team and its Monegasque driver will have a lot of work to do if they are to maintain their lead.
Miami has shown, similar to Imola two weeks ago, that when there are no engine failures, Red Bull has the edge in terms of speed.
With the 2022 season almost a quarter into the game, the championship fight is certainly heating up, but we could very easily see Verstappen running away with it if Ferrari aren’t careful.
Can McLaren bounce back?
It has not been the season McLaren dreamed of this year. The UK-based team had hoped to build on Lando Norris’ well-deserved podium at Imola, but a mistake in the pits and a collision with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly ended Norris’s Miami hopes.
Ricciardo also had to forget another race because he was again unable to collect any World Championship points.
Although he gained two places on the first lap, a strategic error cost him any hope of breaking out of midfield.
To add insult to injury to an increasingly painful injury, the Australian was handed a five-second time penalty for going off track and gaining an advantage.
Zak Brown and his franchise have a lot of work ahead of them to get their team to where they were last season, and if the work can be done behind the scenes, the engineers know their drivers can deliver – they just need the right ones Cars.