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Formula 1: Lights Out - What to look for at the Miami GP

05 May 2022 05:06:34 EST
The F1 circus heads to the glitz and glamour of Miami this weekend

The stars are set to come out to enjoy the razzmatazz of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and those in attendance can expect fireworks both on and off the track.

Formula 1's American owners, Liberty Media, pulling out all the stops to put on a real spectacle in their first venture into Florida in an attempt to grab a larger slice of the US motorsport market and have drawn up an impressive guest list to help advertise the glitzy event, featuring the likes of sporting greats Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.

However, based on the first four rounds of the 2022 season, F1 needs no help selling its product with another weekend of wheel-to-wheel racing expected at the Miami International Autodrome.

F1's answer to the Super Bowl

There's certainly plenty to catch the eye at the unique venue, with the circuit snaking around Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins and the venue for the Miami Open tennis tournament.

The 5.4km, 19-turn "street track spectacular" as it's been dubbed by organisers, has a handful of overtaking spots, but the key to victory could be getting the car set-up right.

With a mixture of high speed straights and tight technical sections, coupled with the unknowns of a new circuit and air temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius, the teams have plenty to ponder heading into the weekend.

The Miami International Autodrome, which is the 11th different venue in the United States to host an F1 Grand Prix, has been compared to Albert Park, home of the Australian Grand Prix, and that is perhaps our best indication of what kind of race to expect and what type of set up may prove successful.

Ferrari keen to strike back

Ferrari will certainly hope the races in Melbourne and Miami marry up having dominated the Australian Grand Prix from start to finish earlier in the year.

Charles Leclerc enjoyed a lights to flag victory Down Under, coming home 20 seconds clear of Red Bull's Sergio Perez in second.

Max Verstappen failed to finish that race due to a technical issue, his second DNF of the season, but bounced back in fine form at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in round four.

The reigning world champion completed an F1 grand slam at Imola, winning the sprint race to take pole position and then leading every lap of the Grand Prix on his way to a very comfortable win.

With Leclerc making a late error which dropped him to sixth, Verstappen was able to cut the Ferrari driver's lead in the championship to 27 points and is now 1.083 to retain his drivers' title.

Leclerc is 8.50 for the world title, with both drivers having now enjoyed two wins apiece to set the stage for an enthralling championship fight.

With the two drivers having swapped wins so far this year, Verstappen is 2.62 to hang on to the momentum with a victory in Miami, with Leclerc 1.80 to keep the back and forth nature of the title fight going.

With F1 still in the early days of its new technical era and this being a new track, it's very difficult to predict who will come out on top.

Along with comparisons to Albert Park, Miami also shares a few characteristics with the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

Drivers will hit close to 200mph on the three long straights and that might give the slightly quicker Red Bull a small but vital advantage over the Ferrari.

Related Formula 1 News

The Chequered Flag race review - Emilia Romagna

The Chequered Flag race review - Australia

The Chequered Flag race review - Saudi Arabia

The Chequered Flag race review - Bahrain

Improvement a must for Mercedes

Ferrari and Red Bull will expect to fill the podium in Miami having adapted far better to the new technical rules than previous top dogs Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows have been over a second slower than the top two teams on average across the first four rounds of the season with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton suffering the ignominy of a P13 finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton has already thrown in the towel on his title fight, despite his team mate George Russel having got some decent results from his Mercedes.

Russell, 101.00 to win in Maiami, is fourth in the drivers' standings and the reigning constructors' champions are hopeful their British pair will be more competitive in future races as they get set to introduce some upgrades in Miami.

Engineering director Andrew Shovlin says the changes made in Florida will indicate whether the team are going in the right direction and admits the problems with this year’s Mercedes are big enough that they won’t be solved in just one weekend.

McLaren on road to recovery

The lack of a dramatic jump forward in their car development could mean another frustrating race for Hamilton - who is a 29.00 chance for the win - as well as Russell, opening the door for someone else to finish best of the rest.

McLaren have got stronger as the season has gone on, with Lando Norris leading the way for the Woking-based outfit. Norris enjoyed good results in both Saudi Arabia and Australia before taking third at Imola, after which he was described as a world champion in waiting by 2016 champion Nico Rosberg.

It's been a rapid recovery by McLaren after a difficult start to the season and Norris is worth keeping an eye on to see if they can stay on the right track, with the Brit 11.00 for the podium and 1.90 for a top-six finish in Miami.

McLaren are trying to set themselves apart from a competitive midfield in Formula 1 this season with the likes of Alfa Romeo and Haas proving quicker than expected.

However, with teams starting to develop and improve their cars, it will interesting to see who can remain competitive and who falls away from the pack, and we could get our first indication of that in Miami.

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