F1’s 2022 Miami Grand Prix brings America its ‘Drive to Survive’ moment
At exit 2X of the Florida Turnpike, the Hard Rock Stadium car parks are getting a Monaco-style makeover. With six weeks until the last American Formula 1 grand prix on May 8, the vast expanse is equipped with a 3.36-mile circuit, palm-shaded villas and VIP clubs that will cost more than $9,000. for a weekend pass. The home of the Miami Dolphins may not exude the aristocratic decadence of Monte Carlo, where F1 drivers whip their multimillion-dollar machines down picturesque streets overlooking harbor yachts. But at Turn 7, where a line of port-a-potties sits in the middle of construction, a “marina” will welcome deep-pocketed fans aboard small boats trucked in and “moored” on supports surrounded by planks painted to look like water. The whole event is sponsored by Crypto.com. “The idea is that it’s going to turn into an almost Disneyland map,” says Dolphins general manager Tom Garfinkel, pointing to a map of the track in his office. “It’s kind of like, ‘Do you want to go to Space Mountain? Do you want to go to Pirateland?’ ”
Not so long ago, the idea of Disney-fying F1 would have sent Ferrari fanatics off the highway. For decades, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile-sanctioned series has been considered the pinnacle of motorsport, a rich meltdown of exorbitant engineering and wheel-to-wheel speed. A classy international audience, mostly from Europe and South America, obsessed with the circuits where Rolex, Shell and other big brands aspired to partner with the most epic cars on the planet. Bernie Ecclestone, the British tycoon who started making F1 an empire in the 1970s and controlled it with monarchical power until 2016. Bernie, as he is universally known, once said he ran F1 like a “Michelin restaurant, not a burger joint.” If F1 was synonymous with Moët, he believed it would not sit well with McDonald’s-loving Nascar fans.