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Miami: F1 was "not interested in racing around" a stadium admits Bratches.

NEWS STORY
03/11/2019

Earlier this week, F1's hopes of a race in Miami suffered a further blow when at a meeting of the board of county commissioners at Miami-Dade's City Hall, two resolutions were passed, the first of which prohibits road closures near residential neighbourhoods in Miami Gardens, which would mean the current proposed track layout would need to be changed, while the second calls for a public hearing before any F1 race in Miami Gardens gets formal approval.

Taking to social media, some attendees at the meeting voiced their opinion that F1 commercial boss, Sean Bratches argued a somewhat weak case in defence of the race.

There could be good reason for this.

If there is one thing certain to make F1 fans groan, it is news of a new street race, which in most cases over the years have proved to provide somewhat pedestrian racing.

However, fans of a certain vintage know that it could be worse, as they recall the early 80s, when F1 cars raced around a parking lot, namely Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

When hopes of a race on the streets of Miami that would have included the Bayfront Area were looking grim, attention switched to an alternate venue, The Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, and owned by billionaire Stephen Ross, who is organising the race and, in a first for the sport, in a revenue share agreement with F1 for the event.

As F1 and Ross persist with their plans for the Miami event, it has come to light that fans are not the only ones who have been against holding an F1 race in what is essentially a car park.

Taking to social media, Juan Penalosa, executive director of Florida's democratic party, revealed an email exchange between Bratches and Vicente Betancourt, Miami's film and culture administrator, in July 2017.

"I met with Steve Ross on a number of issues," writes Bratches, "one being his interest in hosting a Grand Prix in Miami. I did not tell him that you and I were speaking and that we are meeting in London later in the month... want to make sure that this is managed in accordance with your interests.

"I did tell him that we are not interested in hosting one around his stadium," he continued, "rather a street race, he was fully supportive and I think a good partner to help manage and promote the event."

Nothing Damascene about this particular change of opinion of course, rather the fact that F1's hopes of a street race were looking grim, which is when the stadium suddenly became a viable prospect.

Indeed, as it seeks to expand the calendar to as many as 25 races, with particular focus on its own American backyard, Formula One Management is now so enamoured of the Hard Rock Stadium event that it has been seeking to whip-up support among the locals.

Asked about the change of heart, Luca Colajanni, head of F1's press office, said: "that email was sent two years ago when we were totally focussed on a race in the Miami Bay Area so of course we were not interested in other locations at that time. The Miami Bay opportunity didn’t materialise and only then did we begin to consider alternatives.

"We believe a race in Miami would be an amazing addition to the F1 calendar and continue to work closely with everyone on the ground to deliver that outcome.

"Let me add that, as the Italian poet Petrarch used to say, the wise advice changes, but the fool remains of his opinion."

While Bratches may have seen the light, it is unlikely that COTA chairman, Bobby Epstein is going to change his opinion any time soon, telling ESPN that "the selling point behind Miami was not the track, it was the (original) backdrop. They said we want to be in global destinations with iconic backdrops. It does seem very off brand of them to have a parking-lot race.

"We don't worry from a ticket sales point of view," he said of the potential threat from Miami. "I don't worry that that will become a fan favourite. It's not going to be a spectacular track but I do worry the impact it would have long-term in this market."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Austin, here.

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1. Posted by Paul C, 06/11/2019 6:34

"Sean try these three tracks on for your second USGP: Sebring international (it is in Florida, too), Road Atlanta and Indianapolis. Quit trying to push F1 down the throats of people who would complain about a Formula E race for too much noise and you would block their neighborhood streets."

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