F1 biding time on Miami due to pandemic

A render of the proposed Miami street circuit

Formula 1 has not given up on a Miami street race but is waiting for the effects of COVID-19 to shake out before seriously pursuing the idea again.

A Miami Grand Prix could have been added to the calendar as early as 2019, then was on the cards for 2021.

However, the coronavirus has put paid to those plans for now, even if Saudi Arabia will see a brand-new street race next year, in Jeddah.

F1 is nevertheless upbeat about the prospect of a return to Florida, which would be promoted by the Dolphins Group with whose stadium the circuit would be situated.

“On Miami we’re still actively engaged,” said the championship’s CEO, Chase Carey, in a Liberty Media investor call.

“And we actually did have a conversation with the Dolphins Group leadership a few weeks ago.

“I think both of us decided that when the virus issues sort of came to the forefront and with the uncertainty associated with it we were probably better off going a little slower, and trying to get to a place where we had a bit more visibility on how this is going to play out.

“We’re probably as excited as ever about the opportunity in Miami. But we both felt the prudent path forward was to make sure we’re confident.

“I think for a new race, we want to launch in the right way, and we thought the right thing was to try and go a little slower until we had a little bit better visibility, whether it’s vaccines, or treatments, or tests or what have you.

“And, ultimately, growing the sport in the US, as we said all along, it’s not a 12-month proposition, it’s a longer-term proposition.

“It’s more important we do it right than fast. And the virus obviously represents challenges, until you have a better sense of it.

“So certainly, we’re still engaged, but I think we’ll continue to sort of monitor the broader environment, and see when it makes sense to move to the next phase.”

F1’s 2021 calendar is expected to be released in the lead-up to next weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix.

Indications are that Albert Park will open the season on March 21, with a different look off the race track itself in order to manage crowds and exercise infection precautions.

The 2020 Australian Grand Prix was abandoned within hours of F1 being due on-track, after a McLaren crew member became infected with COVID-19, but Carey is confident about the start of next year.

“We feel pretty good about next year,” he remarked.

“Our early events are the ones we’ve probably had the deepest conversations with.

“All seem confident about having fans and having events that, if not normal, feel pretty close to normal. We’re getting great enthusiasm, but there’s still uncertainty.”

Practice at Istanbul Park begins on Friday at 19:00 AEDT.

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