Hamilton: Formula 1 is now part of Miami culture, which is really, really cool

Lewis Hamilton Miami Grand Prix

Formula One is back in the United States for the first time in six months and the first of three stops is the Miami Grand Prix, the race that was supposed to be the American showpiece.

But the glittering debut in Las Vegas last November was rated as one of the best races of the 2023 season, and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is a popular event aimed at passionate F1 fans.

Miami was the big party when it debuted in 2022, but the question is: Has its status fallen so much that Sunday's race is simply the first of three events in traditionally NASCAR country?

Tyler Epp, president of the Miami Grand Prix, acknowledged that ticket sales for the third edition of the event were “weak” but believed there would be an increase ahead of Sunday's race.

Epp believes the US can handle three events because they are so different: “It feels like the decision to make this race about Miami and everything Miami has to offer was the right decision.”

“It separates us from Las Vegas and Austin and, frankly, Montreal and Mexico and all of North America. I still think we are a unique property. We are the first of the three and we like our position there.

“Communication between the three races in the States is good. “We have not seen the market decline directly because of Vegas, at least we don’t think so, and we are rooting for the other races in this country to ensure that the power of Formula 1 continues to drive the fan base,” Epp added .

Hamilton: I think the sport has gotten bigger here

hamilton F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) / Xhamilton F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) / X

F1 teams have praised improvements Miami has made since opening the 19-turn, 3.361-mile track in the parking lot of Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL's Dolphins. After the stadium remained unused in 2022, team hospitality was moved to the field last year and the entire track was repaved ahead of the 2023 race.

The circuit has 11 pedestrian bridges, more than any other on the F1 schedule, and the width of several bridges has been doubled to improve pedestrian traffic on the sprawling campus, which hosts concerts and parties while cars also make their laps.

“If you compare where we are today, three years after we started, it's a huge change,” said Williams team boss James Vowles. “It was basically a parking lot that they converted into a world-class Formula One track.”

Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton reacted angrily when asked if the addition of Las Vegas to the Formula One calendar had “diminished” Miami's status as a see-and-be-seen event.

Hamilton responded: “Diminished? No, I think the sport has gotten bigger here. There is much more awareness. In every city I visit, people are excited. It's now a sport here in the States. It used to be just an event that happened once a year. Now we’re kind of part of the culture here, which is really, really cool.”

Max Verstappen won the first two races in Miami as well as yesterday's sprint race and, after opening this season with wins in four of the first five races, is expected to win again on Sunday. Its dominance has led to complaints about the competitiveness of racing.

The No. 1 Red Bull starts this year's race from pole position and there are few, if any, bets against Versta[[en adding Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix victory to his illustrious CV. (Report by Jenna Fryer)

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