Many insiders have taken a few days to think about what they experienced over the weekend in Miami and be able to evaluate it as a whole. The three days spent around the Hard Rock Stadium were particularly intense, and in the end almost everyone present came to the conclusion that it was an event destined to be a watershed in the future of Formula 1.
Important premise: not all race weekends that we will see in the medium and long-term future will follow the ‘Formula Miami’, a model perfectly applicable to the reality of the United States, but which is not a guarantee of success outside the USA. .
However, there are many indications from last weekend in Florida, and some of them show directions that will certainly be evaluated by other Grand Prix promoters as well.
The first aspect that struck the Miami weekend was the audience. There was no real record turnout to read the numbers, on the contrary, the stands set up by the organizers guaranteed ‘only’ 50,000 seats, a number far from other events, such as that of Mexico City.
What was decidedly special was the work aimed at welcoming a record number of VIPs, where ‘VIP’ does not mean popularity in itself, but the possibility of being able to shell out very high sums for an exclusive service.
The number of wealthy people, yes, was a record, or about 30,000, attracted by the concept of ‘event’ that they know very well in the US. There are events, sporting and not, which for the Americans become a must, an event not to be missed, and the Miami organizers were very good at building a great expectation that immediately promoted the Formula 1 Grand Prix in this exclusive event club.
The presence of thirty thousand VIPs in terms of turnover / profit is not comparable to that of thirty thousand ordinary spectators, and nothing was left to chance in order to provide services up to the caliber of guests, even setting up beaches (complete with ‘ sirens’), swimming pools, relaxation areas and all that the images (especially from above) of the Miami circuit showed.
However high, the number of VIP tickets soon sold out, and a sort of black market was triggered, which from the initial $ 10,000 (per person, for 3 days) went up to 30,000. Last year some US journalists had published a curious survey among VIP customers at the exit of the Super Bowl, discovering that a substantial percentage had not actually attended the meeting, preferring to stop in lounges and relaxation areas.
While Latifi and Gasly wrestled on the track, some stands were empty in places
Photo by: Williams
It is therefore not surprising that some television shots showed empty seats even in the stands, they were not unsold tickets, but spectators engaged in other recreational activities among the many offers.
Traditional fans will be horrified by this approach, and it must be understood, but it is not the fault of Formula 1, on the contrary, the organizers have been able to go and grab a slice of the market that offers excellent profits on the financial front.
If only great Formula 1 fans had been present in Miami there would certainly not have been a sold-out, but (and this is good news) the share of fans is growing rapidly, on the initial push that came from ‘Drive to Survive’ , an audience that now regularly follows the Grand Prix as confirmed by the historic record from the ABC network on Sunday in Miami, with 2.6 million spectators. “The Netflix series has done what fathers once did – said an American journalist – that is to bring their children to an event and spark that spark that creates fans and the public of the future”.
And in fact, at the exit of the Miami paddock, even at late hours, a very neat group of guys stopped, calling not only the drivers but also many of the team principals and some technical directors, in search of the ‘selfie’ area.
A few years ago it was unthinkable to foresee stadium chants for Gunther Steiner, but today in the United States it really happens and the first to be surprised is the Haas team principal, whose popularity in the United States is nothing short of surprising.
This is the most significant aspect in the future, a base of fans different from VIPs is taking shape, that is people who arrived at the Hard Rock Stadium attracted by what Formula 1 offers on the sporting front.
Not everyone, of course, was lucky enough to be able to access the paddock, even if at a certain point the number of people present in the coveted ‘fence’ made it seem that the fences had been knocked down.
Some boy discovered a way that allowed access to the upper floors of the stadium from the area opposite the pits, then after having circumnavigated the structure, he allowed to go down using the escalators (normally used for the outflow at the end of football games) that last weekend they led directly into the paddock.
Among those who operated there was also someone who turned up their noses, and on Sunday two hours before the start of the Grand Prix, access to some pits became really problematic, overwhelmed by a torrent of VIPs, friends of VIPs, bodyguards VIPs, VIP insiders and so on.
And among other things, someone really was, as confirmed by the exceptional presence of Michelle Obama, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. However, there are those who remembered the weekends lived in Sochi, in a deserted and silent paddock, or even the atmosphere of Shanghai, with the professionals closed in their respective ‘stilts’ surrounded by a huge and depopulated paddock, and the all without any regrets.
There is undoubtedly a lot of positive about what is seen in Miami. The track itself has been promoted, although many have wondered how it was possible to insert such a narrow and winding stretch into the route as the one between turns 14 and 16 given that an average road in those parts is eight lanes.
The organizers will make corrections (where possible), but the starting point is undoubtedly very good. Now it is a question of whether the ‘Miami’ model is also applicable outside the United States, whether or not it makes sense to do so, or whether it is wiser to keep it within American borders. Without acting out of excess, however, some indications are interesting for all promoters.
In the US they have the figure of the spectator who is at the center of an event, an aspect that is not always considered of high priority in Europe and other continents. In our part of Italy more than three hundred euros are often asked to attend a race on a grandstand without seats, uncovered, with portable toilets and few services, and today this is no longer in line with the market and with the needs of spectators.
Either the prices are lowered or the services are improved, and from this point of view Miami has a lot to teach. Then you can be horrified in front of the fake beaches and all the rest, or in front of the ‘American’ that in Miami, being America, make sense, perhaps less elsewhere.
Overall, however, Formula 1 comes out well, confirming a very positive trend that began in 2021 and is still growing. The challenge now becomes not to get carried away too much, avoiding that the goodness of an event is evaluated by the number of ‘special guests’, influencers, sportsmen or deejays of the moment.
The outline is great for business, visibility, and in general it helps the Formula 1 movement to grow at a time when other sports are in great difficulty, but it also becomes important to be able to say ‘no, thank you’ when appropriate, knowing how to give up. a few dollars more.
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