The F1 Miami Grand Prix was originally planned to run through the Bayfront Park area, but residents protested and the plans were scrapped
(Photo : Photo by Robert Giordano // CC BY-SA 3.0)
F1 is not one of the most popular sports in the USA. Where racing is concerned, NASCAR holds the title. The F1 was born and raised in Europe, and at the moment has only one Grand Prix in America, held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Yet recently the F1 has been looking to raise its profile in America, and capture a slice of the multi-billion dollar live sports event market. With American company Liberty Media now commercial owners, the F1 is still in hot pursuit of Miami as its destination city of choice.
Miami Ideal American F1 City
The initial plans were for an F1 race to be held in Miami around the Bayfront Park and Biscayne Bay areas. The 10-year agreement was set to go ahead at the start of the 2019 season, before it was met by solid opposition from local business owners and residents.
The resistance led to delays, which then turned into the idea being abandoned altogether. For the next couple of seasons at least, it looks like the protests against the street race have done enough to stop the event.
That isn't likely to step Liberty Media from regrouping and planning another deal. The F1 have identified Miami as a vibrant and dynamic destination that would be "great to add to the F1 calendar", according to global director of promoters and business relations Chloe Targett-Adams.
She points out that it will be complex to balance the interests of multiple shareholders and community interests. If the Miami F1 is to take place, it would need to avoid disturbing residents while also adding as much value as possible to the area.
Following the backlash, the suggested course has now been moved to Miami Gardens and the area around the Hard Rock Stadium, where less disruptions would occur. There is no real news of how this plan is developing, though it is known that the F1 are partnering with Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, in order to make their dreams a reality.
Popularity Of F1 In America
F1 is an international sport, but is not so popular in the USA. The first F1 event was held in 1950 at Silverstone, and most events since have took place in Europe. This makes it difficult for potential US fans to enjoy the live events, which are often broadcast in the early hours of the morning. Only the most dedicated of F1 fans would be up for a 4am start.
Meanwhile, NASCAR sees sellout attendances, Indiecar has its audience, and the Green Grand Prix, well, it's trying its best and promoting the right values.
There are also very few American drivers to cheer on in F1. Mario Anchetti was the last American to win a race, and that was back in 1978 at the Dutch Grand Prix. There are also barely any betting opportunities, with sports betting difficult in the US until recent legislation changes began to pave the way for increased betting kiosks, online sites, and upcoming betting apps like Fox Bet.
The Austin COTA was added to the F1 calender in 2005, and though it wasn't an instant success it is now a well loved annual race. The F1 insist they do not want to replace the Austin F1, but rather add Miami as an extra date.
Liberty Media, themselves an American company, acquired the commercial rights to F1 in 2017. New CEO Chase Corey has stated that he intends to make the sport more US-friendly, introducing mobile and behind-the-scenes content. More races in the USA would also help, and would coincide well with the legitimisation of sports betting.
Expected 2020 Course Changes
The official list of races for the 2020 F1 Grand Prix circuit is yet to be released. Miami almost certainly won't be on the list this year, though Austin almost certainly will. Silverstone have signed a new 5-year contract, and Chase Corey insists that London is still on the card as another 'destination city', though it's unclear whether that will be in the coming season.
So far, announcements have been made about two exciting new additions to the world circuit. They include the return of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, largely down to the rising popularity of Max Verstappen, and an exciting new track in Vietnam.
Contracts are expiring for four courses, including Spain, Germany, Italy and Mexico. It is thought that at least one of these courses will be dropped to make room.