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Formula 1 Miami GP

Ageing will now improve Miami track surface, say F1 race organisers

Miami Grand Prix organisers are confident the new track surface will now improve over time, after it elected not to waterblast it ahead of last weekend’s Formula 1 race. 

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

The asphalt at the Hard Rock Stadium track was re-laid by circuit specialists Tilke for this year’s Miami GP, following problems in the inaugural 2022 event. 

However, the surface still posed issues for drivers with a lack of grip – especially off the racing line – which triggered a number of incidents throughout the weekend. 

One of the factors that limited the grip on offer was the decision by Miami race chiefs not to waterblast the surface – which helps remove a layer of bitumen and oil that is present on newly-laid asphalt. 

But while that posed some drawbacks for this weekend, Miami GP managing partner Tom Garfinkel says the move will now pay off as a more natural ageing of the surface will make it better for the long haul. 

“Without doing the water blasting, it'll have a little more longevity,” explained Garfinkel.

“It will also change over time. I think this climate with the sun and the humidity, and some other things will affect the track but, as it ages, it's supposed to get better.” 

While the track surface was difficult for drivers in practice and qualifying, race winner Max Verstappen reckoned it was good enough by the race.  

“I think it improved quite a bit over the weekend,” said the Red Bull driver. “I was a little bit afraid, of course, with the rain that it would be a bit worse, but most places were quite okay.  

“It's a street circuit. You can't expect it to be amazing offline, that's how it goes. But overall, I think it was a lot more fun to drive compared to last year. I think the tarmac has been a lot better. So yeah, it was absolutely fine. I think it's not a bad track.” 

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

One other factor that did not help with the track surface was the lack of support race series, with only a single Porsche event alongside F1. That limited the amount of rubber that was being laid down over the race weekend to help improve grip. 

Asked if Miami was considering getting more support races on board for 2024, Garfinkel said: “We're contemplating it. I think if you get more rubber on the track offline, you're going to have better racing during the race. And it's just more entertainment, more racing for the fans. So, if we can do that, that might make sense.” 

Garfinkel also reckoned that changes Miami made to the configuration of the Turn 15/16 chicane also worked really well. 

Last year, the layout was criticised for being too tight, and raised some concerns from drivers after Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon spun in to the wall in that area of the circuit. 

Revisions were made to both the barriers and the profile of the chicane, which Garfinkel said got praise from drivers – as did the removal of several bumps. 

“Last year it was a little bumpy at places, but we've gotten feedback from the drivers that it is much smoother,” he said. 

“Then the mitigation in turn 15/16 was really after feedback we got from George Russell. We talked to all the drivers, we talked to all the team principals, we talked to the FIA, F1 and everyone had differing opinions about 15/16 and what we should do. 

“But the conclusion was really with F1 and the FIA to try to just soften the apex a little bit and take the kerbs down a little.  

“It was a little smoother through there. It was originally kind of a harsh corner because of safety and trying to really work hard to slow the cars down before you got through there.  

“This year, we’ve softened that a little bit, and the feedback we've gotten is that they like it much better.” 

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