Formula 1 is getting jiggy with it this weekend at the Miami International Autodrome as the first of three Grand Prix in the United States takes place around the Hard Rock Stadium.
It’s only the second running of the Miami race and such is the jam-packed schedule of the sport that the event comes a week after the sprint event in Baku. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez emerged victorious in both races.
I labeled last week’s race a snore fest, and I’m hoping the racing will be a lot closer in Miami.
The TrackThe 5.4km-long street circuit is a temporary track and is built around the Hard Rock Stadium, home to the famous Miami Dolphins American football team.
In terms of overtaking opportunities, there is a trio of straights and three DRS zones. Last year’s race witnessed a few battles down the main straights with top speeds edging over the 340km/h mark.
Look out for overtaking opportunities as the drivers head out of Turn 8 and go full throttle down to Turn 11. The left-hander at Turn 16 into the third sector is another high-speed section.
The circuit’s surface has been relaid and that’s welcomed by the drivers who suffered from bouncing during last year’s race.
On the weather front, there’s no rain forecast for the opening practice sessions. However, with Miami’s tropical monsoon climate, the chance of rain during qualifying and the race is likely.
Favourites For The RaceHeading to Miami, Verstappen is under pressure from within Red Bull. In my opinion, Perez has the best chance of mounting a strong title challenge.
Verstappen extracted more out of the RB18 last season, and there were times when Perez struggled with the car’s setup.
However, I feel that Perez’s performance in Baku will make Verstappen even hungrier to increase his six-point lead over his teammate.
It’ll be interesting to see which teams bring upgrades to Miami. They won’t be as substantial as the ones at Imola in three weeks.
Mercedes slipped to fourth fastest last weekend, and Ferrari was second quickest with Charles Leclerc’s pace over one lap particularly impressive.
Lewis Hamilton was unlucky in Baku last weekend, and the Briton has a score to settle after a tough outing. With many of Hamilton’s celebrity pals headed to Miami for the race, I expect his confidence to be high and possibly push him to a good result.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell exchanged a few words with Verstappen after the sprint, and there seems to be no love lost from the Belgian’s perspective. Russell will have to keep his wits about him as Verstappen warned him about a ‘next time’.
I reckon a surprise package this weekend is the Alpine and Williams who have both shown tremendous straight-line speed. The layout of the Miami track suits them, and Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have to get themselves into more point-scoring positions.
With over 250 000 fans expected this weekend, the Miami GP is going to be a party of note. Hopefully, the racing can match the entertainment value off the track too.
Listen to Sean Parker and Mary-Anne Wakefield preview the Miami GP here: