Formula 1 finally feels it has arrived in the hearts of US sports fans. The debut in Miami already looks like a great success for the racing series. This is probably also due to a Netflix series.
The fresh tarmac at the Miami Dolphins’ football temple is giving even record champion Lewis Hamilton something like childlike anticipation. “It’s nerve-wracking, it’s a huge event for us,” enthuses the Mercedes superstar ahead of the Formula 1 premiere in Florida’s dazzling metropolis. American-sized hype surrounds the next Grand Prix weekend, after decades of disinterest the racing series feels it has arrived in the heart of US motorsport fans. In reportedly only 40 minutes, the wickedly expensive tickets for Sunday’s race were sold out.
Hamilton: “A growing love in the States”.
“I never understood why people weren’t interested in Formula One here. It’s just great to see that we’ve cracked that and there’s a growing love in the States,” Hamilton said. The 37-year-old has long been the only Formula One driver known to a wider US audience. To kick off race week, the popular breakfast show “Good Morning America” invited him to make a guest appearance in New York’s Times Square.
Netflix caters for new, young audience
But in the meantime, more and more sports fans in the USA know the rest of the drivers’ field as well. The reason for this, apart from the annual guest appearance in Austin, Texas, since 2012, and the successful PR campaign of the American Formula One owners, is above all the Netflix series “Drive to Survive”. The fast-paced documentary has been retracing every season in one season for four years and has brought the premier class a new, young audience, especially in the USA.
Rude curses also make Steiner a star
Even figures like Mick Schumacher’s Haas team boss Günther Steiner became stars with his crude swearing. This is probably one of the reasons why the organisers in Miami had initially planned a lap of honour for the team bosses in addition to the drivers’ parade. In the meantime, however, this item is no longer on the programme.
Even so, the Miami debut is expected to be quite extraordinary. “Even people who have already been to other races should think: this is different, this is fun, this is exciting,” says chief organiser Tom Garfinkel. So there is a small marina with yachts and an artificial beach with pools on the edge of the 5.412-kilometre course. VIP guests are welcomed at the Miami Dolphins’ state-of-the-art training centre. A series of concerts will feature music stars such as Post Malone, Kygo and The Chainsmokers.
Bottas: “This should be good old-fashioned racing”.
The best entertainment should also be provided by the temporary track. The cars are supposed to reach a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour. There will be some good overtaking opportunities between the 19 corners, Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas judges after the tests in the simulator. “It should be good old racing,” says the Finn. “It looks pretty fantastic. Lots of fast corners, really challenging, unusual corners, extremely long corners, very long straights,” Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly describes his impressions.
Lewis Hamilton’s upbeat mood on the way to Miami, meanwhile, might not just have to do with his enthusiasm for the Sunshine State. A look at the statistics may also put the recently frustrated Silver Arrows driver in a good mood. After all, his Mercedes team has won every one of the six debut races on a newly built track since 2014.