Following the conclusion to Formula One's first ever race in the American sunshine state of Florida, many fans were left with somewhat of a sore taste of what they'd been promised would be the 'Super Bowl' of the sport. A party atmosphere with A-list celebrities ruled the weekend, as the event had been targeting the rich bracket of fans ever since tickets sales began, with the cheapest admission starting at a pricey $650 for the weekend. Before the race, stars such as Tom Brady, David Beckham and Michael Jordan all appeared, helping to introduce an audience that otherwise wouldn't have been interested. Historically, America hasn't been big on F1. Nascar rules the way and viewership figures suggested the same thing. In 2011, Nascar saw a weekly 3 millions viewers, while F1 managed to attract just 400,000. By 2022, the tables have somewhat turned, with F1 now seeing 2 millions viewers for its Miami GP weekend, against Nascar's 2.5 million. 
 
A massive reason for this upturn in viewership has been the owners of the sport - Liberty Media. Since their 2016 takeover, the stock value has risen by 250%, and they have crucially also managed to lure in a worldwide audience that has been behind the expansion of things such as the 23-race calendar, and 3 races in the US instead of the original 1. They lifted a social media embargo on footage, meaning teams had greater freedom to post what they wanted, at the same time as making the sport a whole lot more accessible via platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.  The expansion that the sport has undergone resulted in the announcement of both the Miami GP and the Las Vegas GP. Infamous for their party atmospheres - the stepping stone in America on this level is crucial for the sport to sustain and grow a market it hasn't ventured into during its 75 year existence. Throughout the weekend, the sport advertised swimming pools, South Beach and yachts which is a view not normally seen outside of the glamourous Monaco Grand Prix. A unique twist to the sport that helped engage fans in just how incredible a Miami GP via social media, was a great representation of exactly how far the sport has come since 2016, and why owners Liberty Media deserve a lot of credit for what they have done so far.
 
The idea of a Miami Grand Prix was always going to go down well with the sport's fanbase - great location, climate and entertainment. But the one thing that inevitably didn't get enough of a look in, was the track. Deciding to race in what is effectively the car park of the NFL franchise the Miami Dolphins, was never going to produce spectacular racing. Adding a sub-par asphalt, made driving the cars harder to drive, and therefore the racing less entertaining - which isn't what the whole aim of a Miami GP was right? As soon as Friday running had finished, drivers were left lamenting about how the circuit would be bad as a spectacle and to expect a boring race. By the time Sunday, and the race rolled around, many of these drivers would've been considered as correct up until around Lap 50 of 57. That was when Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris collided in dramatic fashion, causing a safety car. Battles across the Top 10 meant the race directors could barely keep up with the action towards the end, thus rendering the race itself a considerable success when it looked mere laps away from being a snooze fest.
 
Much of the build up to the race had left fans anticipating one of the greatest races in the sport's history - which was an incredibly steep mark to live up to, and was never going to happen. However, the event itself, and the spectacle of Miami was something for F1 to behold, and given another chance, the circuit could yet provide some great racing. Viewership was at some of the highest levels ever seen in the US, and in general, the event was a success and provided F1 with a pedestal to stand out amongst other sports around the world last weekend. How many other sports get to hold massive events like this on the scale that F1 gets to? Not many - and that's part of the appeal of the sport. It's why it is likely going to continue to grow and render the current US expansion a spectacular success.

 

F1 in Miami - overhyped or spectacular?