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F1, Hard Rock Stadium reach preliminary deal to stage Miami GP

Formula One has finalized an agreement in principle with Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins, to play host to the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in May 2021.

The proposed race will mostly take part on stadium ground. But a half-mile stretch of the course would also include Northwest 199th Street, a public road which will be temporarily closed to regular traffic for the weekend.

“With an estimated annual impact of more than $400m (€363m) and 35,000 room nights, the Formula One Miami Grand Prix will be an economic juggernaut for South Florida each and every year,” Dolphins chief executive Tom Garfinkel and F1 managing director Sean Bratches said in a joint statement.

The Miami Grand Prix still needs approval from Miami-Dade County commissioners, however, and many local residents are concerned about the negative impact of traffic, noise and pollution.

According to the Miami Herald, Hard Rock Stadium and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will cover all race costs, including the development of an expected $40m custom track.

The venue has undergone renovations worth around $700m in recent years in an effort to transform it into a multi-sport destination, including staging the Miami Open tennis tournament for the first time earlier this year.

An initial plan to stage a street race in downtown Miami was scrapped due to concerns about businesses interruptions, leading to organizers seeking another location.

“We are deeply grateful to our fans, elected officials and the local tourism industry for their patience and support throughout this process,” Garfinkel added. “We look forward to bringing the greatest racing spectacle on the planet for the first time to one of the world’s most iconic and glamorous regions.”

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has hosted the United States Grand Prix since 2012 and F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media has long been seeking a second US race.

Meanwhile, F1 will stick with its three-day race format despite Sunday morning qualifying being well-received in Suzuka, Japan, last weekend after it was moved due to Typhoon Hagibis.

“It was a Super Sunday in Suzuka and that naturally reopened the debate about the shape of an F1 weekend,” Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director for motorsport, said. “This is an aspect of the sport we have focused on in some detail as we work towards the rules that will govern F1 over the coming years and we have taken into account the voices of all of the key players – the promoters, the teams and last but not least the fans.

“I’ll be honest and say that there has been strong consensus, especially among the organisers, for maintaining the three-day format of track activity, although with a different timetable….After careful analysis we have concluded that the best solution is to keep the event over three days, revising the Friday format but leaving the rest untouched, with qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday,” Brawn said.