Racing Into Grand Prix Weekend

Julia Strasius, Business Manager

This past weekend, Formula 1 traveled to Miami for the Grand Prix. The race, held at the Hard Rock Stadium, featured a brand new track built just for the event. The race consisted of 57 laps on a 3.36-mile circuit, where cars raced at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

The Grand Prix began with practice sessions on Friday, before qualifiers on Saturday and the final race on Sunday. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the podium in first place, winning the first ever Miami Grand Prix. It was a close race between Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, as Verstappen overtook Leclerc early on in the race. Verstappen, only 24-years-old, currently holds the title of 2021 Formula 1 World Champion, after bringing home wins from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix is an expensive and exclusive event, with many celebrities in attendance. Tickets to the Friday practice round started in the hundreds, but prices increased to the thousands for the Sunday race day. The weekend sold out, with over 250,000 people attending the event. 

Over the course of the weekend, the Paddock Club was a buzzing location, as the teams’ garages were filled with celebrities, drivers and team principals preparing for and watching the race. In order to acquire a seat in this space, one had to pay over $18,000 or be invited personally. The Paddock Club is the pinnacle of exclusivity and wealth at the races.

“They say in Formula 1 that cash is king, and the Paddock is the epitome of wealth within this sport. The cars themselves are products of pure speed and excellence,” Miami Palmetto Senior High senior Edoardo Sangelaji, who attended the race with paddock seats, said. “The amount of effort and time that Formula 1 spends on maximizing everything from profits to the show is incredible.”

This year, the event was sponsored by and featured various immersive experiences and activities, such as cable cars designated to take fans from one side of the venue to the other and the venue’s own beach club set in the middle of the track, which featured performances from various artists like Post Malone and The Chainsmokers. 

Contrastingly, the Monaco Grand Prix is known for its beautiful views and extravagant yachts. Miami incorporated some of this spirit in their venue, with yachts docked within the 6-8 turn complex. The boats looked as though they were submerged in water, but it was really a plastic surface intended to mimic the shiny ocean. Those who chose to dock their boats there had to pay $28,000 and receive exclusive passes to be able to watch the race from their boats.  

In interviews following the race, some of the drivers mentioned they believed the track needed a few improvements on areas like the tarmac and the chicane, between turns 14 and 15. Some drivers also mentioned corners feeling unnatural, but given the fact that the track was brand new, these alterations were bound to be encountered. 

As Sunday came to a close, the sounds of cameras clicking, celebrities hustling around and crowds cheering quickly dissipated as the teams packed away their garage setups. Formula 1 will arrive in Barcelona on May 22 for the Spanish Grand Prix, followed by the iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 29. 

“At first glance, like any other race, the goal is to drive fast and cross that finish line first. But in reality, the sport of Formula 1 racing is much more than that,” Formula 1 fan David Rivera said. “These teams invest millions of dollars to ensure high visual standards for everyone watching in person, and even at home.”