For the first time, it’s “Welcome to Miami” for Formula 1. The racing series is preparing for a mega party at its debut in Florida’s metropolis. World championship leader Charles Leclerc has something to prove.

The Formula 1 community has been looking forward to this race for some time. The Grand Prix in the pulsating metropolis of Miami should give the racing series a further boost in the all-important US market. The premiere of the Miami International Circuit around the Hard Rock Stadium must now prove on Sunday whether the hype surrounding the Florida guest race can keep its promises.

What awaits Formula 1 in Miami?

The track builders have constructed a 5.412-kilometre circuit around the home of the Miami Dolphins football team. After first impressions in the simulator, the drivers were taken with the track, which is supposed to offer good overtaking opportunities. With plenty of entertainment and a multicultural atmosphere, the weekend is supposed to be a big party for the fans. An artificial beach has been built for this purpose. The small marina, where the yachts are parked on a sea-blue painted surface instead of in the water as in Monte Carlo, is more of a head-scratcher.

Why is the anticipation so great?

Besides the advantages of Miami as a tourist magnet, the growing affection of the American public has not gone unnoticed by drivers and teams. The PR strategy of the Formula 1 bosses and the success of the Netflix series “Drive to Survive” have brought the racing series many new fans in the USA. In Austin last autumn, around 380,000 spectators flocked to the track. In addition, the drivers simply get the thrill of trying their hand on a brand new track. “It’s great to get another street circuit on the calendar, the track in Miami looks really interesting,” says Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel.

What is the sporting starting position?

World champion Max Verstappen comes to Florida with a lot of tailwind after the outstanding weekend at Imola. The Red Bull driver won both the sprint and the main race and, thanks to the maximum yield, reduced the gap to world championship leader Charles Leclerc. These two will again start the Miami race as favourites. Ferrari star Leclerc has to prove that his messed-up performance in Imola is not the beginning of a drop in form.