Miami Grand Prix, Oscar Piastri’s rookie season, Max Verstappen’s championship campaign, night races, 2023 calendar
Oscar Piastri’s debut season hasn’t delivered the spectacular results of his junior career but the Aussie rookie is making the grade despite the difficulties.
Piastri got off to a low-key start in Formula 1 life. He had the pace to push highly rated teammate Lando Norris and was cool and calculated in the race.
But that wasn’t enough to make up for the considerable deficit of his stricken McLaren car, which has put in an erratic performance so far this season, bouncing back and forth from wallowing performances behind the grid to unexpectedly reasonable points finishes.
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Miami was another deeply memorable round for Woking. The Papaya cars were the slowest in qualifying and the race, providing little work for the drivers on a painful Sunday afternoon.
However, the day proved more difficult for Piastri than most after a technical issue nearly put him out of the race – until he managed to convince the team he could get his dead car home.
After the flag, attention turned to the podium, where Max Verstappen received his third winner’s trophy of the season after a comeback from ninth on the grid – and the Dutchman insists the moment wasn’t spoiled by the chorus of boos that sent him on first place welcomed .
And Miami organizers are considering the possibility of switching to a night race, which would be a boon for Australian fans.
PIASTRI JOURNEY TO THE 19TH CENTURY ILLUSTRATES EXCELLENCE
Oscar Piastri’s difficult run to a lapped 19th place was another example of his ability to adapt under pressure, according to McLaren boss Andrea Stella.
McLaren was the least competitive team in Miami, with Lando Norris and Piastri qualifying 16th and 19th and finishing 17th and 19th.
But Piastri’s Sunday was particularly tough, thanks to a brake-by-wire issue that rendered the car nearly undriveable, so much so that the team decided to withdraw the Australian’s MCL60 based on two indicators captured in the data.
“The first thing was that the rear brakes started to overheat,” Stella said per RacingNews365. “The second was Oscar going too long in a couple of corners because he was pretty much only using the front brakes when we were trying to resolve the issue.”
But the pit wall had changed their minds with Piastri’s ability to work around and over the problem, allowing him to stay out and finish the race should a safety car or other disruption shake the field.
“We found some adjustments and also driver adjustment, which meant we were able to keep the brake temperature under control and also achieve relatively good consistency under braking,” said Stella.
“That’s why we decided to stay in the running. We know there weren’t many opportunities, but we’re here to race, we stay in the race.
“He had to drive the whole race with a problem on the brake-by-wire, which Oscar dealt with brilliantly.
“After locking up the tires three or four times, he kind of realized how to adapt his braking to the problem.”
The longer operation also meant McLaren was able to collect more data on the upgrade package it put in the car in Azerbaijan last weekend.
VERSTAPEN DON’T WORRY ABOUT BOHNS
Max Verstappen is unfazed by the boos he received from the crowd at the Miami Grand Prix and says he would rather be known and unpopular than be shrouded in darkness at the back of the grid.
Verstappen was mocked by the crowd both during the controversial driver presentation ceremony just before the start of the race and on the podium when he was presented with his winner’s trophy.
But the Dutchman said he had no problem with the booing because it was a reaction to his win.
“I think if I ride in the back, nobody’s going to do anything in terms of reaction, are they?” he said.
“I think it’s normal when you win and they don’t like who wins. So that’s something for me, which is absolutely fine, as long as I’m on top, that’s the most important thing for me.
“I take the trophy home and they go back to their homes and have a nice evening.”
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Verstappen is no stranger to upsetting audiences, particularly during his tense 2021 title fight with Lewis Hamilton, which polarized the F1 fan base to levels never seen before.
But the cheering was arguably at its worst the following year, when both Verstappen and Hamilton were booed at different races, depending on who had the most support from the crowd.
He was moved to speak after Hamilton received a particularly hostile reception at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, declaring those cheering as the Brit and team-mate George Russell crashed out of qualifying were “not really F1 fans “.
“You can’t really enjoy what’s happening right now, a lot of great drivers are actually fighting each other,” he said The guard at that time.
“How often do you see something like that? Such an intense rivalry or fights. These people are not lovers of the sport.”
MIAMI EXPECTS NIGHT RACE
Miami Grand Prix organizers have been talking about moving their event to night runs.
The Miami race has been on his 10-year contract for two seasons and is one of three races in the United States this season, including the long-running United States Grand Prix in Austin and the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which debuted in 2017 November is on the calendar.
Lighting a Grand Prix circuit comes at a significant cost and adds logistical complexity to a race, but the Miami International Autodrome is built around Hard Rock Stadium, which is owned by Stephen Ross, who is also the promoter of the event through his RSE Ventures Rennes is an investment company.
Miami Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel is also the managing partner of the Grand Prix.
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Talks about a possible transfer to an evening start hour are already being held, said Garfinkel.
“We’ve had some discussions about this,” he said, per ESPN. “Obviously the weather is a bit unpredictable at this time of year – the weather has been nice so far this year, last year it was unseasonably hot for the time of year – but there are a lot of factors that come into play with F1 and television and everything else so we have It’s done. We have to weigh all these things, but we’re quite open-minded.”
But Garfinkel added that the decision was still a long way off.
“We’re not at a point where we’re going to make a decision now,” he added. “I think we’re having discussions about what it would look like if we did.”
Six of the sport’s 23 races this season will be held at night or at dusk, including Las Vegas.
The Vegas race is very late at night, with qualifying at midnight and the race at 10pm – although that’s great news for Australian viewers, for whom those East Coast sessions are at 9pm and 5pm respectively.
Sunset in Miami at this time of year is around 8:00 p.m., which is 10:00 a.m. AEST.