F1’s Miami GP track breakdown: Bringing South Beach vibes to Hard Rock Stadium

Every Formula One race has its own identity. And many circuits have their “thing” – some widely known feature you won’t find anywhere else.

Monaco is known for the Nouvelle Chicane, Turns 10 and 11 right in front of the port, while Spa features Eau Rouge, one of F1’s most notorious corners. Then fans come to Miami, which starkly contrasts the Americanism of the stars and stripes at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

When first developing this GP, race organizers hoped to run the track in downtown Miami, an oceanside answer to Monaco’s famed layout. That didn’t work out, so we’ve got a track built around the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. But building the Miami International Autodrome a dozen miles from South Beach didn’t keep race organizers from importing bits of color that offer that “Miami feel.”

And so we’ve got the fake marina and similar vibrant aqua color that resembles that of the Dolphins.

“We have been very committed to, from the beginning, the brand of Miami,” Miami Grand Prix president Tyler Epp said in 2023. “We’re going to create Miami as the lens for which people are viewing the race.”

Here’s what you need to know about the F1 circuit built around a NFL stadium in the Sunshine State.

map of Miami GP circuit

Points of interest

Miami’s temporary track was selected from more than 30 proposed layouts but received mixed reviews during its inaugural season in 2022. Most drivers criticized the track surface, and some were unimpressed by various points. The circuit has the same layout this season, with just a few tweaks here and there from 2023 that included a much-needed resurfacing.

There’s “no substantive changes” for the track ahead of this year’s race, Epp said. “There’s a very small adjustment to pit lane entry for the drivers, but it’s almost unrecognizable. It was a safety concern from the FIA and the drivers’ council.”

Here are a few key points that fans should keep an eye on.

Miami GP track highlights

Turns 13 to 16 (A)

Daniel Ricciardo described this chicane as “a little too Mickey Mouse” in 2022, which tells you all you need to know about it. It’s slow and narrow as the cars file under the turnpike. (Regulations put a speed limit around overhead features, which is why the chicane is there at all.)

Turn 16 to 17 (B)

At the end of the long straight, drivers face another prime overtaking spot with the tight left-hander of Turn 17, which is right near the Dolphins’ practice fields. It’s key to remember that there were only 45 overtakes throughout the 2022 Miami Grand Prix, but 52 in 2023.

Turn 11 (C)

This is a braking zone before hitting the accelerator into Turn 12. The left-hander is poised to be a good overtaking spot and a potential litmus test for one issue sucking up oxygen ahead of this race: just how possible it is to pass.

Turns 6-7-8 (D)

This sequence is right in front of the MIA Marina (aka faux marina, which has some actual water now). Pierre Gasly, who describes himself as “the type of guy to like Miami,” said he enjoyed the fast nature of this sequence.

But this portion came into the spotlight in 2022 when Gasly and Lando Norris collided as the Frenchman went around the outside of the McLaren during Turn 8. It ended both of their races as Norris spun and Gasly retired a few laps later.

The 2023 tweaks, including the DRS changes

The track was resurfaced after drivers slammed it in 2022 for offering poor grip and even breaking up at points. Sergio Pérez called the surface “a joke;” Fernando Alonso derided it as “not F1 standard.” Epp said they “really leaned on our partners at Tilke to make sure that we’re doing this properly.”

On the lighter side, the faux marina now features a couple of pools — with actual water in them.

Also, a few safety tweaks were made after conversations with the drivers’ council, F1, and the FIA, notably around Turns 13 through 16, which take drivers under the turnpike. That’s where both Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon crashed during practice sessions in 2022, each hitting a stretch of wall that wasn’t protected by the force-absorbing Tecpro barriers. After hitting the concrete with 51Gs of force, Ocon called the setup “unacceptable.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: A general view of boats at the circuit during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 04, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The circuit’s faux marina brings some of the “Miami feel” to the grand prix weekend. (Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The track also featured a rumble strip on the left for Turn 14, and the apex of Turn 15 was a bit elongated, both of which should help drivers navigate the section.

Ahead of the 2023 race, two DRS zones were shortened in Miami. But the drivers didn’t seem to get why, especially given the low number of overtakes during the 2022 race.

“I think all of us didn’t really understand why they’ve been shortened. None of us were consulted about it or asked our opinion on it, and I think the race speaks for itself in Baku,” Mercedes’ George Russell said in 2023. “DRS is there to aid overtaking, and it’s always exciting when you’ve got these big DRS advantages, and it gives you the opportunity to fight, and clearly, in Baku, it was way too short.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc agreed. “I think with the cars that we have at the moment, it’s still quite difficult to follow,” he said. “Hopefully, in the future races, we won’t shorten them.”

This is an updated version of a story that originally ran in May 2023. 

(Graphics: Drew Jordan/The Athletic. Lead image: Cristiano Barni ATP Images, Dan Isitene – Formula 1 via Getty Images; Design: Drew Jordan/The Athletic)

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