Will the new Miami circuit produce great racing? Who’ll come out on top between the F1 title protagonists? And can Mercedes maintain their record of winning at every new circuit since 2013? Here’s what to look out for at the all-new Miami Grand Prix.
Who Will The New Miami Circuit Favour?
Formula 1 is in Miami for the first time in its history. The first race in Florida since 1959, the new Miami Grand Prix has a lot of hype to live up to. The popularity of F1 in America is booming right
now, with new highs in TV ratings and unprecedented demand for tickets. Tickets for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix sold out in under an hour, with 240,000 spectators expected this weekend.
The drivers are yet to turn a wheel on the actual circuit, but their impressions from the simulator are good. The high-speed layout has been designed with overtaking in mind – something which should
be more easily achieved with three DRS zones in operation in Sunday’s race.
Given their form so far this year, Red Bull and Ferrari are the teams best placed to win. But don’t rule out a surprise on this as yet un-raced circuit.
Grand Slam Season
Max Verstappen is the favourite to win on F1’s first visit to Miami. Like title rival Charles Leclerc, Verstappen has won two races so far this year. Leclerc is ahead in the standings as he has consistently finished on the podium in the first three races, while Verstappen suffered two DNFs due to reliability in Bahrain and Australia.
The first signs of championship pressure for Leclerc showed in the last race at Imola. When he was set for a podium finish, the Monegasque driver pushed too hard, spinning and losing out on valuable points. Verstappen now sits 27 points behind Leclerc, following his Sprint and Grand Prix wins two weeks ago.
The pair have been in a league of their own so far in 2022; proven by the fact that each driver has recorded a rare Grand Slam in the last two races. They are the first pair of drivers to record the feat (taking pole, winning the race, setting the fastest lap and leading every lap) at two successive events in F1’s 72 season history. Should Verstappen achieve the feat again this weekend, he’d be the first to do so at consecutive races since Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
Max Verstappen to have the fastest lap – 13/8
Mercedes Back In The Mix?
Mercedes have won the first race at every new venue to be added to the Formula 1 calendar since 2013. The last time they failed to win the inaugural race on a new track was the last time F1 added a new circuit in the USA – Circuit of The Americas, in 2012. Since then, the Silver Arrows have come out on top at all six brand new circuits which have joined the schedule. Lewis Hamilton has won five of those six races.
Hamilton failed to score last time out, but his chances could be improved this weekend as Mercedes set about fixing their early-season issues. The team claim this weekend will be “experimental”, with Toto Wolff saying there are a number of directions to explore for the W13 car.
Whether Mercedes move closer to Ferrari and Red Bull or not, a good bet for big points is George Russell. Mercedes’ new recruit is the only driver to have finished in the top five at all of the first four races of the season.
Will Sainz Have Some Good Luck?
It was a promising start to the year for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with two podiums in the first two races. Since then, however, luck has not been on the Spaniard’s side. In the last two Grands Prix, Sainz has completed just a single lap. He spun out on the second lap in Australia and his race came to an end on the first lap in Imola following a collision with Daniel Ricciardo.
Sainz now has less than half of the points of his team-mate and will be looking for a good result in Miami to get buoyed up for his home race, the next race weekend in Spain. Fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso will be hoping for some luck too, having scored only two points from the first four races. A big result is surely due for both Spanish drivers.