Formula One is the pinnacle of global motorsport, but for various reasons—early morning weekend start times, lack of a star American driver—it has long faced an uphill battle in the U.S. market. Thanks in part to Netflix’s wildly popular behind-the-scenes reality series Formula 1: Drive to Survive, though, F1 is finally having its moment stateside, and the latest indication of that rise comes on May 8, with the debut of a second U.S. race, the Miami Grand Prix.
“Miami is new for us,” says reigning world champion driver Max Verstappen. “For me, [the U.S.] always gives you this kind of feeling that anything is possible. It’s massive. It’s big. Everything is big.”
Miami is the 11th U.S. location to host an F1 race. Since 2012, Austin has hosted the United States Grand Prix (this season’s U.S. GP takes place on October 23), but prior to that, many races were in cities with lower international profiles, such as Watkins Glen, New York, and Riverside, California. The Magic City, on the other hand, carries with it a global imprimatur.
“I think Miami is a good place for F1 to go, because it’s one of these iconic cities in the United States,” says Guenther Steiner, team boss of Haas, Formula One’s only American team. “It’s known all over the world.”
The city signed a 10-year contract with F1, and in light of that commitment has purpose-built a new racetrack, the Miami International Autodrome, about a 20-minute non–race car’s drive from downtown. (For their part, the F1 drivers will reach an estimated top speed of 199 mph on the 19-turn, 3.36-mile circuit.) Perhaps the most striking aspect of the track is the way it curves around Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Dolphins.
“You could walk around the top deck of the stadium and see every corner,” says Tom Garfinkel, Hard Rock Stadium’s vice chairman, president, and CEO.
Once the green flag waves, though, fans will surely have their eyes glued to the race itself. This season has no shortage of storylines, as seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes seeks to retake the title from Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen, who won his first crown in dramatic fashion last year, passing Hamilton on the last lap of the season’s final race, in Abu Dhabi, following a controversial safety car lap.
The Miami GP will be a hot ticket, but don’t despair, racing fans, if you can’t make it; at the end of March, Formula One announced it will add a third U.S. race, the Las Vegas Grand Prix, in 2023. The only fear and loathing at that event will be between the competitors.