Miami Grand Prix: F1 debut torn apart as ‘shallow’ race on ‘characterless concrete’

F1 preview: A lap of the Miami Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was quickest by 0.071 seconds in practice for the Miami Grand Prix on Friday, May 6. Mercedes’ George Russell trails in second, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who Leclerc is battling for the title, came third. Several drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, appeared to struggle with the new street-style track around the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.

No one found the sport’s newest track more difficult than Valtteri Bottas, who crashed his Alfa Romeo at Turn Eight.

Much has been made of the newest Grand Prix circuit ahead of Sunday’s race at the Miami International Autodrome.

The 5.41km lap with 19 turns is set at a venue that has previously hosted Super Bowls and Baseball World Series.

However, the “temporary circuit” has been criticised for lacking the history and authenticity of other venues, not least because of its fake marina.

F1 writer James Elson blasted the sport’s newest track in a piece for Motor Sport earlier this week.

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He wrote: “Why, in a country blessed with a multitude of ‘classic’ race tracks, is F1 not racing on one of the permanent circuits, but on a strip of vast characterless concrete?”

The Miami circuit is the 11th different American venue to host a round of the F1 world championship.

However, critics have argued that organisers should have chosen a track that already has a legacy.

Mr Elson wrote: “F1, as usual, isn’t doing much to help its image by staying away from areas and venues which are known for racing.”

He added that it is “instead plumping for a more glamorous and perhaps shallow alternative because – well, simply because it can”.

One of the US’ most iconic racing venues is Watkins Glen, which is known as the country’s “home of F1”.

The iconic circuit has played host to classic racing moments over the years.

Mr Elson said: “Whether it be Jackie Stewart’s last race, James Hunt’s win to continue his ’76 title fightback or Alan Jones’s barnstorming comeback at the race’s final addition.

“A wide variety of classic racing moments make the ‘Glen, for many, the quintessential American F1 venue.”

The expert also hit out at the new track in Miami for essentially being a “car park”.

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He said: “In reality, the new circuit is built within the less-than atmospheric car park of the Hard Rock stadium in Miami Gardens.

“Attracting the greatest derision is the fake marina at the centre of the circuit.

“With real boats – available to commandeer for a huge sum of course – plonked on top of a painted surface.”

However, some in the sport are excited about the prospect of racing at Miami, including Hamilton.

In an interview with F1, he said: “I’ve been to a couple of Super Bowls and this feels like a similar vibe.

“What a great place for us to have it – and around this incredible stadium.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing spectacle, and also really cool for people across in Europe and around the rest of the world to see just how great Miami is.”

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