We’re currently in the midst of the very first Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix – the 13th unique Formula 1 Grand Prix to be held in the US of A. Miami’s addition to the F1 calendar is a potent symbol of the sport’s current boom in popularity, especially in the US and largely thanks to the success of Netflix’s Drive To Survive.
Qualifying wrapped up yesterday and so far, the Miami International Autodrome has produced some very exciting racing. But most people haven’t been talking about the racing. Oh no. They’ve been talking about the track’s bizarre fake marina.
In the middle of the track on the inside of turns 6, 7 and 8, there’s a collection of 10 yachts that appear to be floating on some sort of mini lake. But the ‘marina’ doesn’t have any actual water, unlike other tracks like Abu Dhabi or Monaco. Instead, the yachts are surrounded by concrete with a vinyl water graphic on top.
Naturally, fans have had a field day clowning this ridiculous fake marina online. What’s the point of a yacht club that you can’t sail in and out of?
In some ways, the fake marina is emblematic of the ‘plastic’ nature of the Miami Grand Prix. While it’s good to see F1 starting to catch on in America, many of these fans who’ve been lured in by Drive To Survive are considered ‘plastic fans’ by F1 purists.
But for Miami Grand Prix managing partner Tom Garfinkel (who’s also the vice chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, around which the race takes place), the fans making fun of the marina is only a good thing.
“I think we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he tells Autosport. “We’re having some fun with it, right?… I think the people on the back of those yachts watching the race will have fun, and I think the people that are sort of poking fun at it, I think it’s funny, and it’s great.”
Autosport also points out that the fake marina yachts aren’t just some tacky trackside furniture: they’re a focal point for a whole entertainment precinct along with a fake beach with deck chairs, games and loungers.
Of course, any new entry to the F1 calendar was always going to face some pretty intense scrutiny. The same thing happened with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last year – although that was for a very different set of reasons…
The race kicks off in just a few hours, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz P1 and P2 for the start. That’s rather fitting, actually: Miami has one of the highest concentrations of Ferrari owners in the world, so it’s kind of a home race for Ferrari.
Lights out, and away we go…