This week, a venture into the unknown awaits Williams Racing and Formula One for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix – the first of two races in the United States in 2022.
The Floridian city has an all-new venue for F1 to race at with Hard Rock Stadium, usually home to the Miami Dolphins NFL team, turning into the Miami International Autodrome for the weekend.
The 5.41km track layout is full of flowing corners and three long straights that should see F1 cars speeding around for 57 laps at speeds nearing 320kph.
The 19-corner circuit will see some high-speed battling, mainly down the long run between T16 and T17 – a straight that forms one of the Miami International Autodrome's three DRS Zones.
Although the racetrack is undeniably a street circuit, no public streets are used. Instead, the track is formed from private access roads and tarmac within Hard Rock Stadium's grounds that the hosts will deconstruct once F1 leaves town.
One element of the circuit that you won't find anywhere else on the Formula One calendar is the cable car system that passes overhead at Turn 8 before running alongside the short straight into Turn 9 – what a view those cabins will have!
What are the drivers saying?
With every driver needing to find their footing for the Miami Grand Prix, Nicholas Latifi is sure that he can use the streets usually reserved for the Miami Dolphins to his advantage:
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and experiencing a brand-new event. It’s a really exciting weekend for Formula One and to see the sport go from strength to strength in the US is great.
“I’ve only experienced the track on the simulator, but it seems like a good combination of slow-speed technical sections and more fast and flowing elements, so it’ll be an interesting challenge.”
Miami will be the fourth time Alex Albon has raced on North American soil in F1, with his previous two races on the continent – the 2019 US and Mexican Grands Prix – seeing the Thai driver walk away with two solid P5 finishes.
“It’s very exciting to be heading to Miami,” our No23 stated, continuing: “It’s a brand-new track and a home race for Dorilton.
“I’ve driven the track in the simulator and my initial feeling is that it’s going to be very technical with a lot of different style corners.
“The venue itself looks incredible, and I’m sure fans are in for a great weekend.”
From the Pit Wall
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, has had a lot of work to plan for the new event but is well aware that simulator prep is no match for getting boots on the ground:
“A new circuit always presents an exciting challenge to the drivers and engineers,” he said, adding: “Although the drivers will learn the circuit very quickly, the behaviour of the tyres, the initial ageing of the asphalt and the local conditions will ensure that there is a lot for the engineers to optimise throughout the weekend.
“The Miami International Autodrome is a new circuit, which features several long straights, two fast corner sequences and one low-speed twisty section – this is all within a 5.4km anti-clockwise layout.
“There will be compromises to be made between the various sections of the track and so the team will have quite a task to find the best overall lap time.
“Pirelli have provided compounds from the middle of their range, which is the same as in Imola.
“These are expected to suit the circuit layout quite well, although the exact tyre behaviour will depend on the track temperature and the chosen setup.
“It is this interaction between setup and tyre behaviour that will provide the drivers and engineers the biggest challenge of the weekend.
“The weather looks likely to be hot and sunny with a small chance of thundery showers, and with the key sessions taking place in the mid to late afternoon, it could be quite punishing for the cars, tyres and drivers.”
Did you know?
The Miami International Autodrome will become the 11th American circuit to hold a Grand Prix – no other country in F1 history has seen as many venues host Formula One.
Two Williams Racing drivers have taken four victories in the USA, each at different circuits. Alan Jones won the 1980 USA East GP at Watkins Glen and the 1981 USA West GP at Long Beach, while Keke Rosberg took victories at the 1984 and 1985 US Grands Prix in Dallas and Detroit, respectively.
Formula One and Miami have flirted about the city staging a race for many years. The organisers went through over 70 possible configurations all across the city before landing on the ultimate layout for the Miami International Autodrome.
From 2023, the USA looks set to host three races per year for the foreseeable future as Texas' Circuit of the Americas has its contract in place until at least 2026, and Miami has a bumper 10-year deal with Formula One to host until 2031. Then, next November, we head back to Las Vegas as we race under the lights along the iconic strip.
Williams Racing x Miami Vibes
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