If you’ve been following F1 news lately, you might’ve heard that the Miami GP was recently announced for 2022, along with a track layout. This might sound like great news to you, another race to watch next season! But recent F1 tracks have been, well, less than stellar. So when I heard that the track had been announced, I had to see what it looked like, and hoped with all my heart that it’ll have an exciting layout.
What did I think?
Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Good Track vs Bad Track
In order to decide if a track is good at first glance, we need to understand, what makes a good track? Why are some tracks fan favorites, while others are the cure to insomnia? So I’ve compiled a list of four different tracks, two that are loved, and two that are, disliked. They are:
Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium (Onboard Lap)
Interlagos in Brazil (Onboard Lap)
Sochi in Russia (Onboard Lap)
And Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi (Onboard Lap)
It’s the reason why we continue to go to tracks like Silverstone and Monte Carlo. Everything that happened on that track in the past turns it into what it is today. Sure, we as fans like the new stuff, but knowing the history of a track, and remembering famous races that happened there, always add to the excitement of a race weekend.
Starting with our good tracks, Spa-Francorchamps takes the prize for being the most historical track on my list, having been on the calendar since 1950, the very first season in Formula One. It’s taken many different forms over the years, being over 8 miles long at one point! Everytime we go there, fans young and old can take the time to appreciate this historical, and incredible track.
Interlagos isn’t nearly as old, hosting its first grand prix in 1973. However, it makes up for this by delivering truly remarkable races. Senna’s drive in 1991, Verstappen’s win in 2019, the chaos of 2012, and honestly, who can forget what happened there in 2008?
“IS THAT GLOCK?! IS THAT GLOCK GOING SLOWLY?!”
If you know, you know.
Our bad tracks on the other hand are relatively new, with Yas Marina’s first race in 2009, and Sochi’s in 2014. Since they’re pretty young compared to the other tracks, they have to make up for it in their recent races.
I cannot remember a race in Sochi that I finished and wanted more.
Yas Marina on the other hand, has had some good races, to give credit where credit is due. The only reason I think this is the case is because it’s the season finale, and championships have occasionally come down to that final race.
So in order for a track to be good, it’s gotta have that history. And if it’s not that old, it should at least have some good races to its name.
The next thing on our good track checklist is the atmosphere. Fans, lights, the surroundings, all these things add to the excitement of a race. The Italian Tifosi at Monza, cheering their hearts out for Ferrari, and the breathtaking surroundings of Marina Bay in Singapore. Even if the racing wasn’t that good, at least you felt like you had a good time.
Starting again with our good tracks, the atmosphere at Spa is mainly carried by the fans. To a newcomer, the surroundings of Spa can seem quite bland, with nothing but trees surrounding the track. But if you ask me, I think that’s all it needs. One legendary track in the Belgian Hills, a place that doesn’t need lights and celebrities to sell itself. All it needs to do is show you a lap around the track, and you already want more of it.
At Interlagos, the Brazilian fans rival the Dutch and the Italians with their dedication to the sport. I’ve never been in the grandstands during a race there, but I’ve seen footage of them cheering for Max Verstappen in 2019, as he snatched the lead from Lewis Hamilton in the Senna S.
Sochi has their olympic park.
And that’s it.
Finally, Yas Marina, being a night race, looks stunning. By the waterfront, the blue and white colors, the fireworks, all of that really helps the atmosphere. I know I considered it a bad track, but if they did one thing right, they made its design a sight to behold.
So to add to the track’s history, it needs a good atmosphere. It needs to transform the feelings of the fans to excitement and anticipation for the race.
In order for cars to perform an overtake, there first must be enough space to do so. This is why qualifying in Monaco is so important, because if you get stuck behind another car, chances are, you’ll be staying there for the entire race.
Our good tracks, Spa and Interlagos, along with our bad tracks, Sochi and Yas Marina, all fit this category well. There is plenty of space on all of the tracks to allow cars to run three or even four wide at some parts of the track.
I know, I missed a chance to throw shade at Sochi, but trust me, there’s more on the way.
Now, for a track to be good, it doesn’t need to be wide all the way around. There can be a sweeping technical section, where cars have barely enough room to go two wide, that can open up into a long, wide straight, as long as it can produce overtaking.
So let’s add track width to our good track necessities, to give cars enough space to go for overtakes on their opponents.
No one likes a race where all the turns are easy. We don’t, and the drivers don’t either.
That’s why corner difficulty is crucial when designing a track. High speed curves, double apexes, elevation changes, tight chicanes, hairpins, all these things count as great corners.
And no circuit does this better than Spa-Francorchamps. I believe there is truly no other track out there that has corners that flow together like they do at Spa. La Source, Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Les Combes, Pouhon, Blanchimont, etc. When a corner has a name, you know it’s good. When every turn on the track has a name, whoever designed it deserves a raise.
And if he got one already, give him another one.
Interlagos may not have the beautiful corners that lie in Spa, but it still does a good job. The Senna S in Sector 1 is one of my favorites, and Sector 2 does a fine job in making every turn as technical as possible for the drivers.
Now we come to Sochi and Yas Marina. Their corners share a lot in common, possibly because they were designed by the same guy, Hermann Tilke. Listen, he’s made some good tracks, I’ll give him that, but when it comes to Yas Marina? And Sochi?
Mercy will be thrown out the window.
Turns 1 and 2 on both tracks are respectable, and then we approach Turn 3, which I have to say, is pretty good. But now we have the rest of the track to deal with.
It looks like a page from a middle schooler’s geometry homework on right angles.
They are everywhere. Almost every single corner on both tracks is close to a 90 degree angle. If you watched the onboard lap of either track, you probably began to zone out at one point. Because every corner is easy! And when every corner is easy, what do we get?
A boring race.
This is the most important part of track design. You can have all of the features above, but if there’s no place to overtake, you don’t have racing. You have cars driving in a circle for about an hour and forty-five minutes.
Now what is the perfect overtaking opportunity? You know it, you’ve seen it.
A heavy braking zone after a long straight, that leads into a tight corner (or section of corners). Turn 1 at Monza, Mexico, and Bahrain are all great examples of this.
Spa, although it is one of the greatest tracks to ever grace the earth, doesn’t have many of these. The only places to make a move on the track are at the end of the chicane, or on the Kemmel Straight. Overtaking at other corners is possible, but much harder.
Interlagos has only one heavy braking zone, but if we’re being real, about every corner there is a chance to overtake. Sector 1 is high speed and all about finding the right line, Sector 2 is technical, and Sector 3 is basically the home stretch. You can overtake in virtually all of these places.
Sochi and Yas Marina, being best friends with the right angle, have only two places where an overtake can be considered.
And this, along with a culmination of all their other features, make them the worst tracks on the calendar.
Conversely, this makes Interlagos the best track for racing, with Spa being better at everything else.
Now that we know what makes a good track, it’s time to use that information and decide if Miami can join the ranks of Spa and Interlagos.
Miami Grand Prix (Onboard Lap, Turns 1 and 2 are different in the video due to recent track revisions)
Since the track is new, it’s a bit unfair to judge it’s history.
But the atmosphere is something we can talk about. Being an American, and knowing Miami sports fans, they’re quite passionate, to say the least. I’m not saying they’re the next Tifosi, no of course not, but they can definitely bring some life to this race.
The track has sufficient space for an overtake in certain parts, however the walls on edges the track as opposed to run-off areas will certainly make drivers think twice about a move.
Corner difficulty is something the track has got right. There are no elevation changes unfortunately, but they do have fast and flowing corners, including a double apex or two at one point.
But finally, we come to the most important part. The overtaking opportunities. I counted about 3. They have the long straights, and they have the heavy braking zones. My only question is, is that gonna be too easy? We’ve seen it at Spa, a move on the Kemmel Straight is basically undefendable. Is Miami going to suffer the same fate?
My final judgement on the track?
I say it’s worth a shot.
Aside from the historical aspect, it meets all the criteria I mentioned above. The fans will be great, it has the track with, it has a couples fast a flowing corners, and there are a few chances to overtake. The only thing I’m worried about, as I’m sure you are too, is how easy the overtakes will be. Because although we appreciate overtakes, we want drivers to work for them, attacking and defending for their lives. In the end, it’s something we’ll only figure out on race day, but as of right now, it looks much better than the new Jeddah Street Circuit, and more importantly, better than Sochi.
And to me, that’s worth giving it a chance.
What do you think about the Miami circuit? Do you think we’ll see great racing, or will it be another race to fall asleep to? Shoot me an email or send me a message here, I’d love to hear from you! I’ve been Miles Stewart, and I’ll see you all in the next one, take care!