Formula One drops plans for 2019 race in Miami

The Formula One motor-racing championship has postponed plans to stage a new grand prix in Miami, stating it is not prepared to do a deal that would result in an event being held on a “sub-optimal” race track.

The news comes after officials in Miami last week delayed key talks on a contract to stage a race in the US city amid concerns from local residents. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed that talks originally scheduled for July 26 will now be delayed until after the City Commission’s August break in order to secure further input from downtown residents.

In a statement yesterday (Monday), Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at Formula One, said: “In the last few months we have worked diligently alongside our promoter Stephen Ross of RSE Ventures, the City of Miami and Miami Dade County, to realise our ambition to bring a Formula 1 Grand Prix to Miami, and we have made significant progress: however, these are complicated negotiations.

“Whilst our preference would have been to race in Miami in 2019, there was always a point by which delivering the best possible wheel-to-wheel racing experience for our fans, drivers and teams wouldn’t be possible in the time available. We have now reached that point as far as racing in Miami in 2019 is concerned.

“However, we are taking a long-term view and as a result, we have decided, in consultation with the Miami authorities, to postpone sign-off until later in the summer, with the aim of running the first Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix in the 2020 season.”

The grand prix proposal received the unanimous support of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee in May. The announcement was made following a public hearing in the US city, with stakeholders seeking to add a second race in the United States in October 2019.

Negotiations reportedly concern a 10-year deal which would contain an option for a further decade-long extension. The original plan for the race ran from Biscayne Boulevard in front of American Airlines Arena over to PortMiami and back. The Miami Herald newspaper last week said a revised plan now sees a circuit wrap around Bayfront Park, including a road adjacent to the water, running up Biscayne Boulevard and looping around PortMiami.

Bratches (pictured) added: “We have always said that we wouldn’t compromise on delivering the best possible race, for the people of Miami, our fans and the 1.8 billion people who watch F1 globally every year, and if that meant waiting until 2020, then that was far more preferable than signing off on a sub-optimal race track, just to do a deal.

“At every stage of this process we’ve enjoyed positive collaboration and co-operation with the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, Port of Miami, Bayfront Parks Management, residents and businesses. As a result of these discussions, we have listened and adapted our plans, including elements of the track layout. We are committed to expansion in the US and to Miami in particular and we will be bringing our fantastic sport to this iconic city in October with the Formula 1 fan festival, where we look forward to engaging and exciting fans.”

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas has hosted the United States Grand Prix since 2012, but F1 has long aspired to add a second US race, with Miami touted as a leading contender. Monday’s announcement means that the 2019 F1 calendar is likely to be reduced in size to 20 races, with a deal looking unlikely for a return to Germany, which held the weekend’s grand prix at Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg.