Take your palm-tree studded Hawaiian shirts out of the closet, wear some rubber slippers and relax with a drink of your choice as some GTA Vice City music plays in the background, all while watching F1 blast around the streets of beautiful, sunny Miami! Yes, F1 has indeed made it to the Sunshine state that is Florida, a bit over 60 years since the sport last raced there in the late 1950s at Sebring.
With this, it marks the second race in the US in a calendar year for the first time since 1984, when Dallas and Detroit both hosted an F1 race, while this year will see both COTA and of course Miami host an F1 race. There’s a lot to discuss, so without any further ado let’s dive straight into it.
Porsche and Audi (finally) joining F1!
“Will they or won’t they” has been the question on every motorsport enthusiast’s mind for the past few years regarding this very topic. Well, at last, the news of Audi and Porsche’s involvement in the top tier of motorsport has been confirmed by VW boss Herbert Diess, who confirmed a few days ago that the VW brand has the ambition to run both these premium brands in F1, and that they can be expected to join F1 by 2026.
At the moment however, speculation is all that is center stage as the inevitable talks have begun as to who the two teams will join forces wit, if at all. What is certain is that out of the two brands, Porsche seems to be the more passive one while Audi’s involvement seems to be more in the thick of it thanks to rumours about it taking over either partial or even full control of McLaren and Aston Martin respectively. For a more in-depth analysis, you can read more by clicking here.
With the 2026 regulation changes, the field should be at a more equivalent level than it is right now. It also gives Porsche and Audi some valuable time to work out the in-depth details about how to optimise the engine, the fuel systems and how to extract the most from the engines. More details should soon follow, but come what may the prospect of such popular and big carmakers joining F1 is quite remarkable! It is Audi’s debut in F1, while Porsche’s foray into F1 dates back to the 1950s, with their last involvement in F1 being as the engine suppliers for the minnow Footwork team back in 1991. Both brands have also gone head-to-head in Formula E in recent times, so to see how they will fare in F1 is an exciting prospect indeed.
A new challenge in the form of the new circuit
It is well-known that the Miami GP will be the first F1 race in the city, but the prospect of racing at a new venue is always exciting for the fans, drivers and teams alike. While the argument can be made that there’s no data to work with for the teams as they’ve never raced here before, the modern-day simulators and computers can crunch enough data to ensure teams don’t show up to the track clueless as to what they must do than Minardi’s test driver Chanoch Nissany was at the 2005 Hungarian GP!
The Miami track has a fair few aspects of the street circuit philosophy found on most American street circuits- a few tight turns, a 90-degree section, long straights and of course glitz and glamour all around the track! There’s one section of the track which you might already have seen being memed to no end on social media- and that is the fake “harbour” which has been constructed to make the race seem like it’s actually being held in Miami. Apart from that though, the track has quite a few interesting parts which could give us some great moments over the weekend!
3 DRS zones also add to the excitement quotient, though from first glance it seems like Turns 1,11 and 17 might be the only places to actually make overtakes. The Turn 11-16 section is extremely tight and will pose a unique challenge for the cars and drivers- expect to see mistakes being made all throughout the weekend as the teams find the car’s limits and learn the track. Only issue for us folks from India will be the timings- the earliest session for us will be FP3, and even that will be held at 10:30PM! You can take a look at the timings for each upcoming F1 session here.
Ferrari have not exactly had the best of races after Saudi Arabia when looking at the team as a whole. Star driver Leclerc made a terrible mistake at Imola during the dying stages, pushing too hard when he didn’t need to, while Sainz has not scored a point in the actual race since Saudi Arabia, suffering 2 DNFs at both Australia and Imola respectively. So, what’s happened?
As fantastic as their Bahrain GP season opener might have been, some unfavourable elements seem to be creeping back into the team’s element which had hampered their last championship challenging years in 2017 and 2018. In both cases, the lead driver lost some crucial points after pushing too hard, while the second driver suffered from a run of iffy form and a few retirements. What can be done to alleviate this, you might ask?
The simplest way to put it is that Ferrari need to just regain their composure once again, though saying that is the easiest thing to do. Their car is easily the class of the field, though is one of the few cars on the grid to not have been on the receiving end of any development updates to the car. As much as it can be attributed to Ferrari’s management system by a few sources, the team as a whole just needs to catch a bit of luck. What is important to note here is that despite many points lost in Australia and Imola, the team is still leading both championships. They know how to win championships, and provided they do things right they can certainly add to this tally by the end of the year.
Hamilton and Mercedes’ fightback
Something which was a bit unnecessary at the end of the Imola GP was Toto Wolff’s team radio transmission to Lewis Hamilton apologizing for the poor race the 7-time champ had, finishing a lowly 14th. The radio gave the nuts over on social media the impetus they needed to yet again shed hatred on Lewis’s struggles during the start of this season. Social media was awash with criticsm, “roasts” and calling out supposed hypocrisy on Toto and the team’s part. However, I simply find this to be a desperate cry for attention!
As we have discussed earlier, one bad weekend doesn’t mean that the driver is incapable or the team is bad. Sure, issues with porpoising and a generally inferior car are hampering Mercedes’ 2022 campaign, though who’s to say that fortunes won’t change? Lewis was a very harsh critic of himself post-race, apologizing to the team and fans for the way in which his race unfolded.
However, a driver doesn’t win 7 championships, 103 races and a team doesn’t win 8 championships in a row by being “washed up” as the social media “gurus” say. Sure, they’ve had their issues this year and have themselves admitted that the championship won’t be achievable this year, though they are slowly addressing car issues to improve their general situation. To do so they’re bringing crucial upgrades to Miami, which might well change their fortunes for the better. How effective these upgrades will be is a conclusion which can only be drawn at the end of the race weekend, so let’s wait and see how it pans out for them.
The heightened battle for points
The 2022 season has seen 18 out of the 21 drivers who took part in it score points after just 4 rounds, with the exceptions being Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi and lastly Aston Martin reserve Nico Hulkenberg who substituted for Sebastian Vettel in the first two races of the season. It’s safe to say then that the degree of competitiveness this year is at an all-time high!
The likes of Haas finish within the lower ranks of the points quite regularly, while Williams has come close to points on occasions other than their solitary points finish at Australia as well. Alfa Romeo has scored points with both drivers, while Alpine is more touch and go with the manner in which they score points. Aston Martin seems to be relying on luck, while McLaren is akin to Alpine wherein sometimes they’re there and sometimes they’re not. These are the teams which are in an intense battle for points each race, and to see this level of competition is quite frankly reminiscent of the 2010 or 2012 seasons, where disregarding the top teams the midfield was incredibly bunched up, with fortunes changing from race to race.
Miami is a venue which is quite an unknown for the teams, and if the F1 gods are kind on us fans we should be in for a thriller. The fast and flowy yet structured track design will certainly suit some teams more than the others, so to see how it ends up for the teams will be an interesting prospect!
Miami might well be known for being the part venue, but the city will be the F1 venue for at least the near future. Something important is that the weather in Florida is supposedly much like that at the much-loved Sepang circuit in Malaysia, in the regard that the weather can go from sunny to thunderstorm in the span of just half an hour at times!
Rain is scheduled for Sunday while the rest of the weekend is seemingly dry. With this extra spanner in the works, the challenge of the circuit has just increased even further for the teams! Do not miss the race- who knows, it could well end up being one the record books can write home about!