This weekend's Miami Grand Prix represents Formula One's fourth round of the 2023 championship and also marks the first of three visits to the USA.
After debuting last year, the Magic City is back for its second iteration on the hybrid street circuit that snakes around the Floridian city's Hard Rock Stadium.
The off-track activity of 2022's event lived up to the marketing hype surrounding the race, with a fake marina, dozens of "celebrity" appearances, and a faux-police escort to the podium after the chequered flag. On the track, though, it wasn't a classic, but that might change for 2023.
The skies! Weather reports suggest the humid subtropical conditions could see the first wet race of the year. As with any forecast, there's no certainty that'll be the case, but some weather sites suggest the chance of rain falling around in Sunday's late afternoon (Miami time) is as high as 60% and mention the word 'storm'.
It's perhaps too British to focus on the weather when there's no certainty of it affecting the race, especially with F1's knack for often just missing rainfall. So, looking elsewhere, there's track resurfacing to look at, which will impact the Grand Prix no matter what. The new asphalt is an unknown element at a circuit where the teams already only have three days of real-life data and could see incorrect tyre life projections alter any planned strategies.
As an event, the Miami Grand Prix might feel larger-than-life, but there is no Sprint showboating here as we had last weekend in Azerbaijan. All the teams brought upgrades to Baku but only had one Free Practice run to test them. Miami returns to the standard three one-hour-long sessions before Quali, letting each driver test the new components to aid their engineers' understanding.
Tyre compounds will be one stop harder than in Azerbaijan, with Pirelli providing the C2, C3, and C4. Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg demonstrated the longevity of the C3 on Baku's streets, running almost every lap of the race on the same set of rubber. With a more abrasive surface and higher temperatures, Miami's track should have quicker tyre degradation.
If the weather forecasts are correct and rain does fall, the Intermediate and Wet tyres will hit the track rather than their slick counterparts. Wet-weather running often levels the playing field, and the unbeatable-looking Red Bull RB19 might seem vulnerable for the first time this year.
Max Verstappen would be the obvious choice for the likely victor, but in the 2023 rounds where the always-imposing walls enclose the 20 drivers, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, Sergio Perez won. The Mexican's reputation as a street circuit specialist might aid him mounting a championship battle this year, and Miami is one of two street tracks F1 visits in May, along with Monaco.
Ferrari stepped forward to close the gap to Red Bull in qualifying trim after Charles Leclerc took two P1 starts last time. However, those gains didn't help for the grand prix distance, and if it stays dry, the Italian outfit likely won't trouble the first two positions. If it does rain, though, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will also fancy their chances as previous wet race winners.
No need to adjust any coronation-viewing plans for the F1, with qualifying and the race providing late-evening entertainment on Saturday and Sunday — if you have Sky, at least.
Qualifying – On air: 8 PM, Session start: 9 PM Saturday 6th May
Race – On air: 7 PM, Session start: 8:30 PM Sunday 7th May
Qualifying/Sprint – 8:30 AM Sunday 7th May
Race – 1:25 AM Monday 8th May
Qualifying & Race – As you might expect for Miami, it's pretty warm, with temperatures in the high 20's. If you trust the Met Office, there's a 40% chance of rain to mix up the grid on Saturday and up to 60% chance to disrupt the race on Sunday.
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There's no rest for the Formula One teams and drivers — the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix is already upon them after a wet trip to Monte Carlo last week. The trip down the Mediterranean coast will see a rather different challenge for the cars at a classic race track following the recent run of street circuits.
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