Miami’s ‘just OK’ race was a victim of propaganda…

The race in Miami didn't deliver as promised but was still an ok race

The race in Miami didn’t deliver as promised but was still an ok race

Formula 1′s first ever Miami Grand Prix was…OK. It was fine. I’ve seen great races, terrible races, and all that comes between. This one felt very middle of the road – not as bad as the worst of the critics made out but well short of the spectacle F1 seemed desperate at times for us all to buy into.

At every race there’s a disconnect from ‘the show’ when you’re not on site. The surrounding spectacle just doesn’t matter when what you’re really engaged with is the coverage of the race itself. Everything else is just…noise. And wow, there was a lot of that around Miami.

I wasn’t the target audience for this race. I don’t think many of you reading this were either. New, American fans, big corporate partners and celebrites – that’s who F1 prioritised. And I don’t have a problem with that. There are 23 races in a season now. Variety’s quite nice.

But wherever they are held and whatever the surrounding spectacle all 23 races should have the sporting competition side at their heart. At times, Miami went too close to getting that balance wrong. F1 seemed so determined to make sure everybody loved its newest addition, something Liberty Media has pursued for several years, that the swirl of PR hype become out-and-out propaganda at times.

While there were obvious issues such as the flawed track surface and the unpopular slow chicane, I don’t think the track was too much of a problem. The the events of the race itself that limited how good it was were actually a reflection on F1 rather than the Miami International Autodrome (awful name). The fastest car, with a straightline speed advantage, got to the front and was better on its tyres. That’s never going to prompt a fight for the win, regardless of the circuit.

The race behind was decent enough – Valtteri Bottas versus Lewis Hamilton and the Haas x Aston Martin battle for lower points finishes (leading to the gut-wrenching student-teacher crash between Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher) were my two highlights from this race.

A grand prix is about more than the lead battle, and it doesn’t have to have a hundred overtakes to be good viewing. I thought there was enough going on for it to be OK. And that’s fine because sometimes that’s all an F1 race is!

If you had to watch this on television, you do have my sympathies. Because I do think it was an inferior product. Partly because the whole point of the Miami GP is that it was meant to be a massive spectacle with a festival like atmosphere – which it was. I’ve never seen the paddock like it. But how are you meant to feel that or, more importantly, enjoy that from home? You can’t.

So the least you can expect is to enjoy the race. Except the pretty terrible TV direction spoiled what few points of interest there were – lots of missed overtakes and key moments, too much focus on shots of pitstops and cutaways to delighted fans. Who is championing that? I bet that’s an F1 higher-up who has got it into their head that they need to show people having a brilliant time. The logic will be: ‘That will convince people it was brilliant and sell tickets next year!’ I bet it’s as patronising as that.

But I digress. The point is that while the Miami GP was fine for an average F1 race, we weren’t promised an average race. We were colossally over-sold an incredible sporting event.

Well, as an event, it delivered. As a sporting spectacle…not so much. F1 tried to cram the race down everybody’s throat and the result was a race that never stood a chance at living up to such overhyped expectations.