Formula One heads to Miami for the first-ever Miami Grand Prix, which will take place at the Miami International Autodrome.
The inaugural Miami Grand Prix is set to be a spectacle with grandstands, marina and the likes of Travis Scott, Tiesto, Rick Ross and Diplo performing at the week-long Miami pre-race party.
Miami will be the second race to be held in the USA, and from 2023, there will be another addition in the States, with Las Vegas joining Austin and Miami.
While the entertainment is guaranteed off the track, there will be plenty of action on it as well, with Red Bull stepping up to the Ferrari challenge; a proper title fight is underway.
Heading to Miami’s first-ever F1 race, I take a look at a few things that might take place.
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A swinging pendulum up top
Although Ferrari are leading both Championships heading into the maiden Miami Grand Prix, this season’s battle has swung like a pendulum between Ferrari and Red Bull. It would have been a one-horse race had Red Bull’s reliability been as solid as their pace, but DNFs in Bahrain and Australia mean the Austrian team are having to play catch-up. Max Verstappen, though, has won both the races, which has put the pressure right back on the Championship leaders Ferrari. While they don’t have the fastest car on the grid, one expected Charles Leclerc to take the win at the Sprint in Imola and even second place during the race the same weekend given the level at which the young Monégasque is driving, but Leclerc lost out to Verstappen on pace and tyre management at the Sprint and a driver-error saw him lose a podium place on Sunday and finish a lowly sixth.
Ferrari’s misfortunes have put the ball right in Red Bull’s court, and the Austrian team head to Miami with the advantage. Another important factor that gives Red Bull the advantage is Carlos Sainz, who has suffered two back-to-back DNFs, which means Red Bull have had two cars to attack and strategise against Leclerc. Ferrari need Sainz to step up and deliver if they want to hold on to the Championship lead and, heading into the Miami race, it’s neck-and-neck again, albeit with the slightest of advantages to Red Bull.
Miami Grand Prix Pole Prediction : Leclerc / Verstappen
Miami Grand Prix Win Prediction : Ferrari / Red Bull
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Lost at sea
The 2022 season could well turn out to be the first season in seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s career in which he endures a winless campaign.
Hamilton’s woes were clear in Imola after he finished thirteenth behind the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, who he just couldn’t overtake no matter how many times he tried. And it wasn’t just the race that was to forget for Hamilton: both the Mercedeses were knocked out in Q2 and neither could make it into the points for the Sprint either.
Hamilton’s horror show on Sunday was just a culmination of the German team’s problems, and if there was any silver lining in Imola for the eight-time Constructors’ champions, it was the performance of George Russell, who had a stellar start on Sunday and managed to capitalise on it to finish P4 in a car that really shouldn’t be that high up.
The Imola performance wasn’t just a one-off for Mercedes. They have clearly been struggling since the winter testing. The new season that is seeing new regulations and new car designs introduced looks like the one that Mercedes haven’t got right so far. The main issue they are facing is that their car bounces way too much on its suspension at high speed, which makes it difficult for the drivers to go into the corners and attack properly. This bouncing phenomenon known as porpoising has been troubling other teams as well, such as Ferrari, but no team have been hit as badly as Mercedes. All teams know that this porpoising is due to the underfloor aerodynamics, but Mercedes are still trying to figure out and understand the problem rather than create a solution for it, which is why they do not have any immediate fixes. The porpoising was so bad in Imola, that Russell even complained of physical pain—chest and back pain—following the race.
It isn’t a pleasant sight for the German team and they know it. They will not be fighting for wins or even podiums for a while, nor they will expect Hamilton and Russell to do wonders in Miami, which will be an extremely optimistic and borderline daft view.
Mercedes aren’t in the Championship fight. Don’t expect great things from them in Miami.
After spending two seasons at the back of the grid, Swiss team Alfa Romeo have become serious contenders for the upper-midfield battle following the regulation changes. Powered by a solid Ferrari power unit, Alfa Romeo have been one of the strongest midfield teams of the season so far. They scored their highest points in the season in Imola and currently sit a pretty fifth in the Constructors’ table.
The team have made great strides towards the front, and their new signing Valtteri Bottas was just a few tenths behind George Russell in P4 in Imola. The Swiss team have scored at every Grand Prix so far except the Saudi Arabian race and have shown proper race pace during all the races. Even a slightly eventful race with the slightest of pile-ups at the front of the grid could put the Swiss team in a good spot to capitalise on it.
Aside from Alfa Romeo, the other Ferrari-powered team Haas are another one who have shown solid race pace in the opening few rounds and are another team who have clawed their way from right at the back of the grid to the midfield. French team Alpine have been promising as well, but their reliability woes have hurt their chances in the last few races, and if the leaders up front do get into a mess, count on the likes of Alfa Romeo, Haas and Alpine to capitalise.