The Miami GP was a great spectacle even if the track was bad Formula one

ANDevery time a sporting event is declared a “Super Bowl” of its kind, the pressure to make it worthwhile will be huge. But in terms of spectacle, Formula 1 is inaugural Miami The Grand Prix more than justified the overcharging. The fake marina, pool sirens and other kitschy accessories were a hit. People of all races and cultures came in crowds, dressed to kill. The fans came out by force. The sun came out, the vibe was ready for Instagram and the Confederate flag was not in sight. Nascar, eat your heart out.

By the time Gabrielle Union, David Beckham, Kathryn Hahn and Mila Kunis walked through the Miami Gardens paddock last week for what some called MotorCoachella, the audience had grown to about 85,000; an incredible number of them were adorned with the latest fashions from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Williams. In the end, they got their considerable monetary value. It didn’t matter that the race itself was a big, fat fool.

Face it: apart from championship games involving Tom Brady – who also took part in Sunday’s GP – most modern Super Bowls cause one-sided affair. Sunday’s title fight between pole sitter Charles Leclerc and title defender Max Verstappen it was no different.

Of course, it seemed early as if this major event would create a much closer clash of styles, with Ferrari’s skill in cornering in the fight against Red Bull’s speed straight ahead. But after they returned, Verstappen quickly skipped Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and pulled Leclerc on his way to a big lead. Were it not for caution in the 41st lap, Verstappen could have been the author of the worst hit in the Miami Super Bowl since the 49ers ran over the Chargers in 1995. Verstappen, who arrived on the podium under police escort, taking a Dolphins football helmet from Dan Marino was a nice touch. But after that beating? His rivals probably needed more protection.

Blowing was not a diversion at home either. ABC’s coverage of the race attracted 2.6 million viewers in the U.S., the most ever for a live F1 television broadcast – a slightly smaller audience than the one that watched Sunday’s Nascar race. And that with NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who enthusiastically and somewhat randomly continued the long tangent around the race during ABC’s previous coverage of the Grizzlies-Warriors playoff series.

Hailee Steinfeld and Serena Williams online before Sunday’s race. Photo: Eleanor Hoad / Rex / Shutterstock

Even more impressive than Verstappen’s amazing result is that he achieved it on an impromptu, hybrid track that would be subject to fierce criticism over the weekend for its dilapidated hairpin, tight chicane and overall lack of grip aggravated by an almost three-digit heat wave. Twice the track was rebuilt on the eve of Sunday’s race. Fernando Alonso effectively named the area at the top of this ragged parking lot – an alloy of Georgia granite, local limestone and 24,000 tons of asphalt – substandard. Sergio Perez of Red Bull called it a “joke.”

Lando Norris, who dropped out of the race after a late failure with Pierre Gasly through an intricate piece of asphalt in the 7th turn, accused the circuit designers in Miami of “missing out”.

“There was only one line that has grip,” said Valtteri Bottas, who broke his Alfa Romeo by entering 7th turn during training on Friday. “That makes it a little harder to overtake.” Verstappen, who nearly fell out of training as he went through the chicane and slipped again while third in qualifying, said the grip from the race line was “almost like gravel”.

Even more beloved was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon assembling his car as it erupted from the chicane entrance into an all-concrete barrier. . It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl if there wasn’t a bit of controversy after that. (Moreover, it’s a bit of a refreshing tone change from all the previous weeks’ chatter about porpoises.)

But not every driver was thrilled with the Miami experience. Lewis Hamilton likened the track in Miami to the parking lots of big stores where he raced karting with his father, but declined to condemn the track the Sunday after the race. (Although Hamilton did take slightly the exception of the bumps on the track at the beginning …) And of course, Daniel Ricciardo is always optimistic.

Although the Australian was not particularly thrilled to finish in 13th place, Ricciardo could still assess how far and fast F1 had come. Seven years ago, on the eve of the gloomy US Grand Prix in Austin, which was almost washed away by heavy rains, Ricciardo was asked what F1 should do to attract more American fans and his answer – be “more guys” – could not be more ironic. And when I caught up with him late Sunday on the floor as he avoided a bunch of celebrities and selfie seekers – most of them here for what petroglyphs might describe as sparkling soap – well, I wondered if he could see the irony now.

“I remember saying that, yes,” he said. “I never thought he would get to this point in such a short time. Sport is really entering pop culture.

“I feel like everyone is here today, or at least the people I met have been here because they love this sport. It is not up to them to take pictures on social networks or to be on TV. There are a lot of popular people who really show interest. We had Josh Allen, the quarterback Bills, here, and he’s currently obsessed with sports. Watt guys were here. It makes me happy that the sport has disappeared the way it did. ”

The track in Miami may have been a disappointment, of course, but organizers will have nine more cracks to address. What is important is that this accentuated Shula steak matched the squeak. As a Super Bowl-level event, the Miami Grand Prix has more than passed. It left no doubt that the American strategy of expanding F1 is definitely on the right track.

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