More rubber down, no night race and sprint interest: Miami's F1 2024 plans
Miami Formula 1 chiefs have outlined some key changes to their event for 2024 aimed at improving the experience for drivers, team members and fans.
Off the back of a successful first two events for the Miami Grand Prix, the Hard Rock Stadium event is expanding capacity next year, which includes extra grandstands on the start/finish straight.
But despite feeling that the demand is there to attract more fans, race organisers are not resting on their laurels. Instead, they are looking to improve on some critical aspects they think can elevate the GP to another level.
Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images
More rubber down
The track surface in Miami has been a big talking point at both of its events, following the surface break-up problems and lack of grip in 2022 that prompted it to be resurfaced by Hermann Tilke's company for this year. But the new asphalt did not improve things dramatically, as drivers once again complained about a general lack of adhesion – especially when running off-line.
There is some hope that a more weathered surface will deliver an improvement for 2024, but another aspect being looked at is in ensuring a better support race package – which will put more rubber down on the track for the F1 cars.
Miami GP president Tyler Epp said: “We have had conversations with the FIA and F1 about trying to get a little more rubber laid onto the race track prior to the F1 cars going out.
“That's something we're looking into for next year. We'll try to make it the very best environment possible, but it was almost two-seconds better, and we saw an increased number of passes, including a pass for the lead.”
Asked about having more support races on in 2024, Epp said: “I think it's very, very viable that we would go back to two support races supporting F1 next year. Exactly what those are, we're still working through, but I will tell you it's being driven by trying to make sure the F1 races and practice sessions are performing in the best possible way that they can, not necessarily just trying to fill the schedule.”
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
No night race, but interest in sprint
Managing partner Tom Garfinkel revealed at this year’s event that there had been talks with F1 about the Miami GP becoming a night race.
But while Miami organisers have since sounded out other night race promoters, the proposal has been put on the back burner for now.
Epp added: “A number of the promoters have been very helpful: Singapore, and specifically Vegas, and we've talked about, could we do this? Does this make sense?
“But we didn't really get too deep into the analysis, because at some point, it's why are you doing it? We have to make sure there's a justifiable reason.
“It’s very unlikely that we would do it for 2024, but we will continue to evaluate. We're always looking at ways to make the experience better, and if we get to the place where F1 says this really does work for us from a broadcast perspective, this makes a lot of sense. Certainly, we'll take a look at it.”
Autosport understands that Miami is one of the candidates to hold a sprint race in 2024, as F1 chiefs close in on a decision about which six venues will get them.
Epp said that the venue was open to the idea, but said it was not something it was actively pushing for.
“We're always interested in the sprint race,” he said. “But I will also tell you that quali is really valuable for us, right? Like we see a lot of value in the qualification experience in F1.
“I think there's a tonne of our fans that have given us great feedback about traditional qualifying. But we're here to support [F1] and if we have an opportunity to host a sprint race at some point, we welcome that. But it's not something we're actively pursuing.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
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The ‘fake’ Marina and Beach Club
Miami is also planning to continue with some its trademark elements, including the Hard Rock Beach Club and ‘fake’ Marina in 2024.
Epp admits that at some point a shake-up may be needed to freshen things up so fans don’t think the event is becoming stale, but for now both elements are viewed as a success.
“Sooner or later things have to evolve, but it doesn't mean we completely depart,” he said. “It doesn't mean that all of a sudden there is no more beach, but it does mean that at some point, the beach probably evolves into some different things or includes different activities.
“But these decisions are made mostly around the demographic and the experience that the people are having in those spaces. So, if we're consistently getting certain feedback that ‘this is nice’, we will keep it.
“The Marina has been super fun. We will continue to evolve that and there'll be a time when that has to rotate through, but that’s okay.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, the Red Bull Racing team celebrate a perfect race weekend
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
Fewer static shocks
One of the big changes that Miami made for this year’s event was relocating the F1 team paddock inside the Hard Rock Stadium itself.
With things having got too crammed at the inaugural event, the stadium setting proved to be a big success in improving the atmosphere and making life easier for team personnel.
But there was one noticeable downside: the artificial grass laid down to protect the pitch helped produce static electricity – so anytime anybody touched anything, or anyone else, they got a shock.
Epp says that will be dealt with for 2024, as he reckoned the location was also better for fans – who could watch the drivers and team personnel come and go over the race weekend.
“We were happy with it for two main reasons – the first one was the key stakeholders experience was approved,” he said. “I think almost universally we got that feedback from the teams, the drivers, and even the media, and everybody said that this was a good change.
“We got very little negative feedback, and there were a couple of things – like the electric shocks – but we can adjust some things and those problems are all fixable.
“The other point is that we couldn't do something in that football stadium on the pitch without making sure that we engaged the fans. I think that was the quiet benefit that we didn't talk about a lot.
“When you start getting to the point where drivers are walking across the paddock to the team buildings, and people are chanting, that's authentic, and now we can start to build something as word gets around in the F1 communities.”
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