For months, Formula 1 had been building up to the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and the stage was set with celebrities galore flocking to the Hard Rock Stadium.
The Late Late Show’s host James Corden got involved with the action, making his entrance in front of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, both of whom were wearing a glitzy and cropped version of their orange strip.
Formula 1 had been unable to secure track space around the iconic Miami beach, but this was of little matter as the organisers fixed up what they hoped to be an ‘authentic’ Miami experience with artificial water the centrepiece of the circuit, even featuring full sized Yachts.
However, all the frenzy and fireworks were building up to Sunday’s ‘lights out and away we go’ and this is where the real questions on Miami’s credibility as a Grand Prix venue would be answered.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen started the grid in third but a strong start saw him immediately overtake Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the first corner and the championship battle continued for eight laps until the Dutchman was able to get past his 2022 rival Charles Leclerc.
And so, the 2022 Championship fight continues as Verstappen edges closer to his Monegasque rival’s lead.
However, as a race, a venue and experience, what has the inaugural Miami Grand Prix brought to Formula 1?
Was the off-track hype too much?
F1 veteran Martin Brundle said ahead of the Miami race weekend: “There’s so much anticipation for this Grand Prix, like I’ve never seen before. I’ve never known so much hype and excitement before a Grand Prix. And they’ve done a great job here, folding what looks like a great race track around the Miami Dolphins Stadium.”
However the race itself has to match the hype. The likes of David Beckham, DJ Khaled and Shawn Mendes all hit the streets of Miami to watch its inaugural Grand Prix but it seemed like the occasion of the weekend was worth more than the race itself.
While the race certainly had a few gut-wrenching and heart-stopping moments, it was certainly no Monza 2021 or even Abu Dhabi 2021.
Having witnessed all the hype and fanfares that preceded the Miami GP, one can only imagine what will be in store for the Las Vegas GP next year.
The only fear being that, as often becomes the norm, the sport takes the backseat and the events around it take away from what we should really be focusing on.
Will F1 become a battle between America and the Middle East?
In the 2021 F1 season, we saw three races take place in the Middle East, with the region being accused of ‘sport-washing’ - plugging money into sports in order to sell their own agenda.
Numerous organisations and drivers voiced their concerns as it appeared F1 and the FIA were not doing enough to acknowledge the problematic reports of the area’s human rights policies.
However, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi can all afford to host these races with no issues and so they all went ahead.
Having seen the rise in interest in Formula 1 in America since Netflix’s Drive to Survive came out, the States have poured more money into promoting the sport and in 2023, we shall have three F1 races taking place in the Middle East and three taking place in America.
Six races out of 23 taking place in two regions out of over 140 countries.
It appears as if America are battling with the Middle East to hold prominence over Formula 1, and if the FIA are not careful, in a few years we could see both America and the Middle East battle it out for yet more control over a sport whose history comes from all over the world.
Has Leclerc lost the title already?
In 2022 there have been five Formula 1 races and of the three that Max Verstappen has finished, he has come out on top in each one.
Charles Leclerc looked as if he would storm the Championship this year but Red Bull’s Verstappen has been keen to retain his 2021 crown and it would appear that if his team can remain consistent, he should have very few issues in winning the title for a second consecutive year.
Ferrari remains well ahead in the constructor’s championship and Leclerc still has a small edge over his Dutch rival but if Verstappen continues his tremendous streak, the Italian team and their Monegasque driver will have a lot of work to do if they are to maintain their lead.
Miami has shown, much like Imola did two weeks ago, that if there are no engine faults, Red Bull has the edge over their Italian rivals in terms of speed.
With nearly a quarter of the way through this 2022 season already, the Championship battle is most certainly heating up but we could very easily see Verstappen run away with it if Ferrari are not careful.
Can McLaren bounce back?
It has not been the season McLaren have dreamed of so far this year. The British-based team had hoped to build on Lando Norris’ well-earned podium in Imola but an error in the pits and a collision with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly ended Norris’ Miami hopes.
Ricciardo too had another race to forget as he once again failed to secure any championship points.
Despite gaining two places in the opening lap, a strategic error cost him any hopes of breaking out of the midfield.
To add yet more insult to an increasingly painful injury, the Australian was then handed a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
Zak Brown and his franchise have a lot of work to do to bring their team up to where they were last season and if the work can be done behind the scenes, the engineers know that their drivers can deliver - they just need the right cars.