It’s the weekend that Formula 1 fans around the world have been waiting for with immense excitement and anticipation.
The Miami Grand Prix is finally here and the hype ahead of the fifth race of the 2022 season is likely to be only matched when the Las Vegas Grand Prix approaches.
Miami is now the second GP to take place in America, and it was recently announced that the third was just around the corner, matching the growing love for the Sport across the pond.
Zak Brown, McLaren’s American Team Principal, has said he hopes to bring a ‘Super Bowl effect’ to Miami when Formula 1 takes over this weekend .
So as the usual enthusiasm of any race weekend builds, let’s take a look at some of the additions that will add fuel to the already roaring fire ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
Will Miami be worth the hype?
No race preceding Miami has received quite as much hype as the second American race on the calendar.
Teams have created their own Miami-themed merchandise and drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo have featured on American talk shows, such as ABC television’s Good Morning America and Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show.
It had been thought, however, that the Miami circuit would be set up around the seaside streets of Miami Beach but it is now to take palace around the Hard Rock Stadium with the set dressing planned to give an ‘authentic’ feel, with an artificial ‘marina’ to be set up - is an artificial marina really the same thing as the iconic Miami Beach?
In addition, even if the Miami GP proves to be as successful as the hype around it, many will fear that it has already been greatly overshadowed by the announcement of next year’s Las Vegas event.
Verstappen or Leclerc?
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have enjoyed two wins apiece this season, with Verstappen winning both races he has finished.
This weekend is set to be one of the biggest tests for this year’s Championship contenders as neither of them will have raced it before.
It is a completely un-raced temporary track, making it difficulte to predict who will have the best car for the conditions.
It is thought that there will be an average lap speed of around 223km/h - almost identical to Imola.
Therefore, with a new race to experience and Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto saying Ferrari will not be bringing any ‘main’ upgrades to Florida, F1 fans can prepare themselves for what should be yet another weekend of intense battling between Red Bull’s reigning champion and Ferrari’s emerging contender.
Can we expect anything from Mercedes?
Mercedes have experienced the worst start to their season since 2013. They have had two podiums in the past four races and sit third in the constructor’s Championship.
After Imola, Toto Wolff even admitted to the cars being ‘undriveable’ (although Russell did manage a podium while his teammate seven-time Champion was sitting down in 14th…).
Russell said it was the most excessive porpoising down the straights he had faced all season and Hamilton’s 14th place finish was his worst ever result in over a decade.
However, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said after the Emilia-Romagna in a post-weekend YouTube video that the team would be bringing upgrades to the W13 ‘hopefully soon - maybe as soon as Miami’.
Mercedes fans will hope that these upgrades can miraculously bring their team up to a position where they can come back to fighting for podiums, race wins, and maybe even constructor’s Championship.
Will Sebastian Vettel stay?
Aston Martin have also had one of their worst starts to a season in recent years. They went into Imola without having scored a single point but their new AMR22 finally came into action and saw four-time Champion Vettel finish in eighth place while his teammate Lance Stroll came in 10th.
Previous to Italy, Vettel had been refusing to rule out the possibility of a Formula 1 departure at the end of the season if his team failed to improve.
Aston Martin’s new Team Principal Mike Krack said: “(Vettel) is realistic about what we do.
“So it is a matter of trying to merge what we think we have to do, what he thinks we have to do and be open and transparent, have good conversations and move on.
“He is a nice guy, a nice fellow and he understands where our limitations are at the moment but he doesn’t stop pushing.”
Krack and the rest of the Aston Martin set up will hope their improvements over the coming weeks will ensure their star driver stays beyond the end of the 2022 season.
Can Daniel Ricciardo come back?
McLaren had a turbulent start to the 2022 season but this seemed finally restored when Lando Norris secured his team’s first podium of the year in Imola.
Daniel Ricciardo however did not have such luck. Finishing down in 18th, Ricciardo suffered a failure to his car and could not maximise on any strategies his team tried.
Having moved from Red Bull to Renault to McLaren, Ricciardo may wonder why he made any of these decisions, but if his teammate can work magic on the car, there is no reason why a driver with Ricciardo’s talent cannot do the same.
McLaren have proved they can compete with the top three, especially given Mercedes’ start to the season, but the Australian is likely to need a bit more TLC as he comes into Miami five places behind his teammate, who is also 10 years his junior.
Ricciardo is well known for thriving at the big occasions, and hopefully Miami can provide that ‘Super Bowl’ feel that will see F1’s jokesman bounce back.
When is Miami Grand Prix?
The Miami Grand Prix kicks off with practice on Friday 6 May 2022 and will conclude with the race on Sunday 8 May 2022