Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturday: Miami’s Vice

The main takeaway from the Miami Grand Prix so far is that it’s not quite as big in year two.

There were tickets still out there for fans to buy, unlike last year, when the track sold out weeks before the race. This year, on the first day with cars on track, the event finally sold out after aggressive price cuts in the final week.

There have been plenty of theories buzzed around for why tickets didn’t fly off shelves, from the F1 push potentially finally losing steam to tickets costing an arm and a leg to the Miami track itself not being fan friendly.

The biggest one is probably that there are now five races in North America. Of the five, Montreal has the most notable racing pedigree with a great record of races, and the other might be Mexico City as it features Sergio Perez, the Mexican version of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Of the American tracks, Circuit of the Americas is a traditional circuit that isn’t nearly as expensive as the other two options. But of all five of the tracks, Las Vegas and the prices it is charging have to be the biggest Miami killer.

Why drop a couple grand to go to Miami when you can spend more to go to the first race in decades at Las Vegas in November? The moderately wealthy who can afford to go to maybe one of these races in a year, making these decisions months in advance, have apparently decided to choose the strip over palm trees and the parking lot.

It wasn’t going to be a disaster if the race isn’t a sell-out. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter for the sport’s bottom line, as FOM already has its site fee from the promoter. But if this race is going to survive, with plenty of other markets around the world demanding an F1 race, it has got to do better next time.

There’s still time to do it, as the event still has eight more years on its contract. But so far, it has been a bit of a disappointment after a roaring year one.

It’s unlikely the racing is going to wow a lot of fans this week, either. Last week’s grand prix at Baku was a snoozer, and while those will always exist in racing, the shortened DRS zones did not seem to help.

What ended up happening is that it became hard for the non-Red Bull cars to pass, and because Red Bull is in its own tier this year, the only real action came when Perez or Max Verstappen had to pass somebody. Of course, the FIA has decided to cut two of the three DRS zones at Miami.

There is little reason to expect Ferrari to make up the gap to Red Bull this weekend, outside of maybe qualifying. Of the two Red Bull drivers, Verstappen has the edge considering his success at Miami last season.

There was a tense moment last week in the Sprint, really the only memorable moment of the weekend, when George Russell slid up into Verstappen at the start. Verstappen confronted the Mercedes driver after the race and seemed very frustrated about it.

The incident really wasn’t Russell’s fault. Maybe he should have backed off on his cold tires. But a driver that doesn’t go for that move will probably end up a fired driver eventually.

It just seems that Verstappen is mad that somebody raced him like he would them.

A big story this week has been the upcoming shooting of a new F1 movie, which is being directed by Joseph Kosinski of Top Gun Maverick and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced both Top Gun movies and Days of Thunder back in the day.

The crew has acquired a car that is somewhat similar to an F1 car produced by Mercedes. Shooting will begin during the Silverstone weekend and will extend out to multiple race weekends.

Unlike Days of Thunder, the movie car will not run during official sessions or the actual race. Drivers will include the film’s star Brad Pitt, with Tom Cruise reportedly willing to run the car at some point.

There’s some rising pressure on Nyck de Vries to pick the pace up at AlphaTauri. He came into this season as one of the most seasoned and experienced F1 rookies in years, having won the Formula E championship in the 2020-2021 season and being a test driver for Mercedes for years.

Last year, de Vries essentially won a seat on the grid after scoring points in his debut with Williams on short notice. This year, the 28-year-old Dutchman has been completely out-paced by teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Normally a team would give a rookie another season as long as they haven’t been a complete embarrassment, and de Vries has been better than that. The problem with the situation is that coming in de Vries was considered experienced enough to overcome the gap a rookie has when they first join F1.

What’s more is that this is Helmut Marko we’re talking about – a man not renowned for patience. Red Bull Junior Ayumu Iwasa is currently leading F2 points. If he can hold off drivers such as Oliver Bearman and Theo Pourchaire to win that championship, Red Bull would almost have to move him up to AlphaTauri.

And with Tsunoda really taking a step up this season and largely outperforming the car’s pace, suddenly, it’s not looking like de Vries’ prospects are that great going forward.

There’s still time to turn it around. A solid month of May, where the Dutchman avoids accidents and finishes races, may quiet a bit of these rumors. But the headlines don’t look too good so far.

The Miami Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, May 7th. Lights out will come at 3:30 p.m. EST. Race coverage will be provided by Sky Sports and broadcasted on ESPN.

Frontstretch will be experimenting the next two weekends by moving F1 and IndyCar coverage to its own Twitter account, @FSOpenWheel. The account will be giving live flag-by-flag coverage of both the Miami Grand Prix and the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis next weekend, along with periodic updates during qualifying sessions as well.

About the author

michaelfinley010

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021, and also formerly covered the SRX series from 2021-2023. He now covers the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and road course events in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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Mike

One of the reasons the race in miami took longer to sell out is because the track added extra seating capacity this year because last year the race was a quick sell out. Unlike nascar that states their races at daytona and some other tracks are sell outs but dont mention they cut seating capacity by 30000. So more bs by nascar they never tell the real story and come up with lame excuses to reasons television ratings are falling. It couldnt be the product they are trying to promote or the terrible network broadcasting.

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