The engines are revved and the cars have left the garages. Martin Brundle is on the grid and Mario Andretti is very chirpy, and seems to have won the chance to drive an F1 car at the Austin GP. Brundle speaks to Venus Williams, who says “we love having Lewis and all the drivers in Miami.” It’s rammed on the grid. Dj Khaled sings the praises of Miami, his home city. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City QB is a very tall man. “This is crazy, this is spectacular.” Except it’s not Mahomes, but Paolo Banchero, as Brunds had been given duff info. Racing people in short supply as it’s flooded with celebs.
Ah, Christian Horner, a celeb himself. “We’ve got to split them,” the Red Bull principal says of the Ferraris. No Astons on the grid, says Brunds, who engages the company of cheerful-looking chap. They are starting from the pit lane. Pharrell Williams says “I love Ferrari cars but Lewis is my brother”. He’s chatting to McLaren principal Richard Mille. Chris Medland, F1 hack par excellence, is speaking to Lance Stroll, who says the Astons have problems and have to go to the pit lane. Jean Alessi, the Ferrari man, is backing his old team but is worried by Max Verstappen.
David Beckham blanks Brundle, not for the first time. But then relents. “It’s amazing, it’s what Miami does best, the sporting occasion.”
And so to the anthems….
It’s 40 years to the day since the sport lost Gilles Villeneuve at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The overall drivers’ standings after four races so far
- 1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 86 points
- 2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 59
- 3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 54
- 4) George Russell, Mercedes, 49
- 5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 38
- 6 Lando Norris, McLaren, 35
- 7) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 28
- 8) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, 24
- 9) Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 20
- 10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 15
- 11) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 11
- 12) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 10
- 13) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, 6
- 14) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 4
- 15) Fernando Alonso Alpine, 2
- =16) Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, 1
- =16) Alex Albon, Williams, 1
- =16) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, 1
A reminder of those Miami grid positions.
- 1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
- 2) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
- 3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
- 4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
- 5) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
- 6) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
- 7) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
- 8) Lando Norris, McLaren
- 9) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
- 10) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
- 11) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
- 12) George Russell, Mercedes
- 13) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
- 14) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
- 15) Mick Schumacher, Haas
- 16) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
- 17) Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo
- 18) Alex Albon, Williams
- 19) Nicholas Latifi, William
- 20) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Rain is falling in Miami, and a track that is already a little wet through the humidity, may cause problems, making the road a bit greasier than the drivers would like. It’s hot out there, and the track may not be the easiest even in the dry. There were a couple of heavy crashes in practice sessions and a couple of drivers have been complaining, and concerned about their safety.
“I’m sorry to be critical but I told the FIA yesterday that my crash in second gear shouldn’t feel that hard, but today my neck was a bit in pain,” Carlos Sainz said on Saturday. “I told them *Let*s put Tecpro there* because it*s a very hard concrete wall.”
This isn’t F1’s first flush in America. Some of you may remember Mario Andretti, who spoke to Giles Richards.
Andretti’s opinion rightly still carries weight. He won the F1 championship with Lotus in 1978 but his career was long and successful across so many disciplines. He remains the only driver to have won the F1 title, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. He was named US driver of the year in three separate decades: 1967, 1978 and 1984.
Why so many famous faces here? The answer is Drive To Survive, the Netflix series.
F1 is holding two races in the US for the first time since 1984, with Miami and the US GP in Austin. Next year it will add Las Vegas to the mix. The sport’s owners, Liberty Media who took over F1 in 2017, have made no secret of their ambition to build F1’s profile in the US and Drive to Survive has been vital.
Team principals have acknowledged the part the TV show has played in bringing their sport to a wider audience, even while some drivers such as Max Verstappen have criticised that it is played for dramatic effect to sell a narrative.
To say this is a celeb extravaganza is to put it mildly. Michael Jordan is doing his last dance, Serena Williams looks ace, Pharrell Williams looks happy, Will-I-Am has got a feeling it’s going to be a good, good night, and Michael Douglas has the same basic instinct, Tom Brady has touched down and David Beckham got a bend on to be here. Some real Don Johnson values in his get-up.
Rhythm is gonna get’cha
Rhythm is gonna get’cha
Rhythm is gonna get you
The rhythm is gonna get you tonight
No way, you can fight it every day
But no matter what you say
You know it the rhythm is gonna get’cha
Gloria Estefan and her Sound Machine, Crockett & Tubbs, Steve Van Zandt, Dan Marino, Tony Montana, The Rock, Gentle Ben, Jon Secada, Police Academy 5, Phil Neville: yes, it’s probably time to shake out the Miami cliches before the big race itself, though a first F1 race here since 1959 is quite the occasion, as America, via Netflix, has becomes the latest territory the fastest vroom-vroom cars in the world of sport have conquered.
What’s at stake, beyond Lewis Hamilton’s battle to keep his body piercings on in the cockpit? Well, Charles Leclerc looked highly accomplished in qualifying where Max Verstappen did not, as the world champion was forced into a mistake when pushing too hard on his final lap. In the drivers’ championship, Leclerc leads Verstappen by 27 points, a handy advantage, and he has Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz alongside him on the starting grid, with Verstappen in third with Red Bull oppo Sergio Perez in fourth.
It’s hot out there, humid, too, and that could make for some fine entertainment. Reliability could be an issue for all the teams – just ask Hamilton’s Merc team even if he did make sixth on the grid this time – and may be the deciding factor.
Moon over Miami
Shine on my love and me
So we can stroll beside the roll
Of the rolling sea
Moon over Miami
Shine on as we begin
A dream or two that may come true
As the tide comes in
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