The fate of the proposed Formula One Miami Grand Prix has been quite a precarious one. One minute, it’s happening, and the next, someone is suing the prospective trace over any number of complaints: noise, traffic, you name it. But things actually appear to be moving forward.
This previous Wednesday, the Miami Gardens city council voted in favor of the race going ahead. The city’s new mayor, Rodney Harris, managed to strike a balance between F1’s excess and the impact on locals by introducing a plan that will reduce noise, disruption, and the times when cars can actually use the track while also bringing local businesses into the fold.
As a result, Liberty Media boss Greg Maffei and former F1 CEO Chase Carey are both expected to put in appearances at this weekend’s Grand Prix in Imola, Autoweek reports.
American-based company Liberty Media has been aiming to bring a second F1 race to America for years, but it hasn’t happened for a variety of reasons. In some ways, it seems like F1 is unable to decide exactly how to best serve American race fans. In other ways, the stalling has come down to local governments protesting the introduction of another street circuit. It’s been a pretty volatile combination that has resulted in a lot of nothing-getting-done.
Now, though, if F1 agrees to certain parameters, it can schedule a Grand Prix in 2022. Those parameters include:
- No on-track action after sundown
- No on-track action before 2:30 pm if school is in session
- Implementation of noise-dampening barriers
- Signs around the track letting locals know about the race and road closures beforehand
- A $5 million community benefits program
- Scholarships and internships for local students
- Discounted tickets for locals
- No fees charged to local restaurants and businesses that choose to take part in the race weekend
If you know anything about how F1 operates, you know that the series generally adopts a “fuck with us and find out” stance when showing up at race tracks around the world. Every single food provider or local business is subjected to rigorous scrutiny in order to be approved to conduct sales at the track. The series usually doesn’t make any extra effort to benefit local communities outside of the tourists it brings in. Locals generally don’t get any special concessions. And if it’s loud, then you just have to deal with it. So, this is pretty huge.
But one extra little nugget of information is included in the bottom of the Autoweek article:
Meanwhile, the United States Grand Prix contract in Austin, Texas, is up for renewal in 2021, although that decision may be delayed as some race contracts were quietly extended in 2020 when the pandemic forced events to be canceled. While F1 enjoys the Circuit of the Americas facility and the city of Austin, the race has struggled financially and has not brought a huge amount to the sport.
Texas in not proving to be F1 country, and the word is that at least two other venues may be bidding for the deal: Las Vegas and Indianapolis.
It may be the Texan Race Fan in me, but I’d argue that the US Grand Prix has done pretty damn well for the series, all things considered. COTA pays its multi-million dollar hosting fees, it regularly sells out, and it puts on great racing. There have definitely been complaints—bumpy track conditions, wild weather—but those complaints aren’t much different than those you encounter at any track.
It would honestly benefit F1 to have two races in the United States, but as the Autoweek article notes, Las Vegas and Indianapolis are two equally interesting venues that have the benefit of being located farther away from Miami than COTA and therefore would reach a different swath of the country and, as a result, more race fans. It’ll be tough to move past the hot disasters that were previous races in Vegas and Indy—but if Miami is where F1 wants to hedge its bets, a non-COTA venue could make sense.