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The US will be F1’s “second home” in 2023, hosting three races this season. Miami will be the first stop, as the Magic City hosts a Grand Prix for the second consecutive year.
As F1 drivers and teams get reacquainted with the Miami International Autodrome, we have everything you need to know about the temporary Formula One track built around the Hard Rock Stadium. A physical track with wide, long radius corners, Miami will create an interesting challenge for this weekend.
Miami GP Layout: A Street Circuit That Doesn’t Look Like One
The Miami circuit went through five layout changes. Nothing out of the ordinary in F1, except for the fact that the four previous layouts never got out of the drawing board.
It all started in 2018, when the Miami Grand Prix was first announced. The original track design incorporated parts of Biscayne Boulevard, then crossed a bridge and looped back to the Miami Heat’s American Airlines Arena.
The layout choice made sense: Biscayne Boulevard had already been home of Miami’s IMSA races for a full decade, from 1983 to 1993. It had also hosted a pair of CART and ALMS races in 2002 and 2003, as well as a Formula E round in 2015. The track would also have PortMiami as its backdrop.
But the new track layout was met with plenty of resistency. Local protests began as soon as plans for the Grand Prix were revealed, and drivers were also critical of the unimaginative track layout. In the end, after three proposed redesigns, the idea was scrapped altogether.
Plans shifted to a track around Hard Rock Stadium, with Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross being heavily involved in the negotiations. The new layout was unveiled in 2021, using Hard Rock’s parking lots and adjacent streets. Again, the new track was also met with plenty of resistence, including complaints about noise levels and traffic management.
The talks led to yet another change in the layout, moving the turn 1 complex from 199th street. This time around, however, an agreement was reached, and Formula One’s long-standing dream of hosting a Grand Prix in Miami was finally given the green light.
The Miami International Autodrome doesn’t look much like a classic street circuit. Except for the tight and twisty complex between turns 11 and 16, the track layout consists mostly of medium to high speed, wide, long radius corners. The track has three prime overtaking spots: two long straights and a flat-out section from the exit of turn 8 all the way to turn 11.
Miami also has a 1.2 kilometer long back straight, which is the second-longest in the F1 schedule (behind Baku). At first glance, Miami bears some similarities to the now long-scrapped Valencia Street Circuit, which hosted the European Grand Prix from 2008 to 2012.
Miami International Autodrome DRS Zones: Three Prime Overtaking Spots
F1’s radical rule change in 2022 brought back the ground effect cars in a bid to improve racing, making it easier for cars to follow one another around witout too much interference from the dirty air. The Miami F1 track tries to make use of this.
While the long radius corners aren’t exactly great for overtaking, they do allow the trailing car to follow the one ahead. That’s essentially the idea behind Miami’s DRS zones: the track’s unconventional layout for a street circuit lets drivers follow each other closely in order to set up an overtake in the coming DRS zone.
The first DRS detection point at the Miami International Autodrome is located on the exit of turn 8. Drivers can then tuck under their opponent’s slipstream and use the overtaking assist starting on the flat-out turn 9 kink, going all the way to the heavy braking for turn 11.
Drivers then go through the narrowest part of the track, which is the complex running from turn 11 to turn 16. Exiting turn 16, drivers get by the second DRS detection point, which leads to the best overtaking spot. The second Miami International Autodrome DRS zone starts halfway through the 1.2 kilometer back straight, giving the chasing car a huge edge in speed and providing a big overtaking chance into turn 17.
The third and final DRS detection point is located on the exit of turn 17, which means that the leading driver won’t have a lot of time to rest. Drivers have to go through the left-right esses in turns 18 and 19 before arriving at the main straight, which is the third and final DRS zone. The chasing car can set up an overtake into turn 1, but this section of the track does give the leading driver a better chance to defend his position.
The Miami International Autodrome is an FIA Grade 1 track with capacity for 56,000 fans – up from 53,000 in 2022. The track uses the Hard Rock Stadium’s parking lot, as well as some of the access roads around the Miami Dolphins’ homeground.
Miami International Autodrome Racing History
|2022||Charles Leclerc||Max Verstappen|
The first edition of the Miami Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc go head-to-head for the third time that season, as the early-championship rivals had already done the same in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Unlike the previous two races, however, Miami showed the first signs of Red Bull’s dominance. Once Verstappen got in the DRS zone and overtook Leclerc on lap 9, he never looked back. Verstappen built up a massive 7.4s lead before having it wiped out by a late Safety Car.
But once the race got back under green, Verstappen successfully fended off Leclerc’s initial attack before crossing the line 3.5s ahead of his closest rival.
The race ran relatively trouble-free for the most part. Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly came together on turn 8 to bring out the aforementioned Safety Car. On the final lap, Mick Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel crashed into turn 1 as a result of an optimistic lunge from the Haas driver. Other than that, drivers managed to keep their cars away from the walls, which was also helped by the track’s wide corners.
What Lies Ahead for 2023
In theory, Miami probably won’t change things that much. The high speed sections will likely favor Red Bull again. Despite Leclerc’s solid showing in Azerbaijan, Ferrari still doesn’t inspire enough confidence to take the fight to the Austrian team.
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